Appreciating Haverford's Impact
Had it not been for a high school friend who suggested that he check out the American Friends Service Committee’s World Affairs Camp at Quaker Knoll in Wilmington, Ohio, Bert Kritzer ’69 might not have considered Haverford College. Learning about Quakerism at that summer camp led him to think about Haverford, and he applied early decision and was accepted. “The College offered a $300 scholarship and $1,000 loan. That sealed the decision to attend Haverford,” explains Bert.
At Haverford Bert quickly discovered the “seriousness of the intellectual environment.” He took courses in writing, philosophy, political science, and, in his sophomore year, sociology. As he approaches his 50th Reunion, Bert credits Haverford with giving him the critical skills and wherewithal for the intellectual pursuits that have sustained him. Being at Haverford “made me understand how much work is involved in learning.”
Bert also immediately immersed himself in the Theatre Club—unsuccessfully auditioning for a part in his first year, but then taking on backstage technical work for both the Theatre Club and the annual Class Night skit. At the encouragement of Lance Jackson ’66, he was introduced to modern dance at Bryn Mawr and performed onstage.
His experiences at Haverford, the influence of three high school teachers, and the woman he would meet following his second year at Haverford composed the trifecta that has had the greatest impact on his life.
The summer after his sophomore year, Bert returned to Quaker Knoll for an overnight visit. There he met Amy Howe—a camp counselor who shared his enthusiasm for the theater. Their first date that summer was a theater performance. After a year of traveling between Ohio, where Amy was attending Wittenberg College, and Pennsylvania, she transferred to Temple University to be nearer to Bert during their senior year.
They planned a May wedding in Ohio during Haverford’s senior week because Bert had already taken his senior comprehensive exams in sociology. Their non-honeymoon consisted of an immediate road trip back to campus because Amy had to start summer school the Monday after their Saturday evening wedding. When they got back, Bert discovered he had been nominated for honors and had to appear for an oral exam.
The couple spent their first months of marriage living on the Haverford campus in 10 Railroad Avenue. Bert worked as a research assistant for Sid Perloe, now emeritus professor of psychology, analyzing data Sid had collected for a study of human behavior. Sid’s data were drawn from information about members of the Class of 1969, so Bert had the chance to see his own admission file. He recalls a notation by the staff that proved prescient: “He will be surprised by the level of work.” Bert concurs—he found graduate school to be easier than college. Haverford had prepared him well.
After working for two years, Bert enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earned a doctorate in political science, and held visiting positions at Indiana University and Rice University. In 1977, he landed at the University of Wisconsin– Madison where he spent 30 years teaching in the political science department.
Amy, meanwhile, pursued her interests in theater and writing. When their third child was about three, she started graduate study at Wisconsin. After completing her degree, she taught at Indiana University and West Virginia University. Home base for Bert and their children remained in Madison, and Amy tried to fly home every other weekend. When a spot opened up at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Amy took it and, in time, earned tenure. They could now be together most weekends and arranged academic leaves to be together for extended periods. Bert and Amy continued to pursue their shared interests of reading, writing, and enjoying the theater in London, New York, and elsewhere.
In 2007, Bert accepted a faculty position at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul and then moved to the University of Minnesota Law School in 2009. He holds the Marvin J. Sonosky Chair of Law and Public Policy and is a leading scholar on the empirical study of the legal profession and civil litigation. He has more than 100 journal articles and 11 books to his credit, including the 2018 volume coauthored with Neil Vidmar, When Lawyers Screw Up: Improvising Access to Justice for Legal Malpractice Victims.
Amy joined Bert at Haverford for his 40th reunion and, ever interested in theater, they both returned in 2016 for the Bi-Co Theatre Reunion that celebrated Professor Robert Butman, Bryn Mawr Theatre, and the Haverford Drama Club.
Amy and Bert had been married 47 years when she died unexpectedly in June 2016. Bert reports that Haverford had figured in each of the various iterations of the couple’s wills. In fact, he can trace various renditions of his will and a living trust agreement dating to 1986, 1991, 2000, and 2007 which stipulate that all assets pass to his wife, as a contingency his three children, and, in the unlikely event that none of his immediate heirs survive (known as a “wipeout clause”) partly to Haverford.
Amy’s death led Bert to rethink his estate plan. He decided to include Haverford in his philanthropy in a more certain way. Bert’s attorney advised him that the easiest way, avoiding any need to modify his living trust, was to designate a percentage of the remainder of his retirement accounts to the College.
Bert realized that he could do even more for Haverford. When he and Amy drafted their wills, they had not thought to make provisions for the disposition of the royalties from their numerous books. With Amy’s passing, Bert wanted to spare the executor of his estate the task of dealing with those royalties, so he contacted the publishers regarding all 14 works in which either he or Amy had an interest and assigned the royalties after his death to Haverford as a perpetual institution.
The process was straightforward, providing Bert peace of mind and the College “some pennies” above and beyond the planned gift that will come through his retirement assets.
Knowing that royalties associated with best-selling authors or with works that attract a wide audience can be far greater than those associated with scholarly publications, Bert is hopeful that his decision to assign the royalties of his books to Haverford will inspire others to consider that option. Indeed, assigning royalties, copyright, or other intellectual property rights can be a hugely effective way of showing tangible appreciation for the institution that played a role in nurturing talents. Haverford welcomes such inquiries and collaboration. Because the transfer of assets and the tax treatment can be highly nuanced, Haverford encourages authors, artists, and other creators to consult their personal advisors, as Bert did.
When asked what he hopes to achieve in directing his planned gift to unrestricted endowment, Bert replies characteristically candidly and modestly, “It simply reflects my appreciation for the impact Haverford has had in shaping my life.”