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Triple Eagle Sara Nieves-Grafals, CAS/BS '75, CAS/MA '79, CAS/PhD '80, spent lots of time on campus during her studies, but rarely visited once her career as a psychologist was underway. Her husband, Al Getz, has always contributed to his university and encouraged her to become involved with AU.
"Al woke up my inner Eagle," says Nieves-Grafals. When the couple received tickets to an AU basketball game, they cheered on the Eagles and learned more about campus activities. Soon the couple became regulars at lectures, concerts, and the AU Museum's exhibitions and events. "It enriches our lives," says Nieves-Grafals. "We feel connected to people. AU students are amazingly welcoming."
These events opened the door to extensive volunteer work with AU. Currently, the alumna is a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board and the Latino Alumni Alliance Leadership Circle. She also has served as vice president of the Alumni Board and on the AU President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion. In November 2019, she received the Alumni Eagle Award for her outstanding service to the university.
The couple is also devoted to art, so the AU Museum holds distinct importance. "The only undergraduate work I enjoyed was an art history class, for two credits," says Getz. "I said for years that I was going to start painting, so Sara brought home some paints. They sat downstairs for the longest time. I talked to Jack (Rasmussen, director and curator of the AU Museum), who suggested ideas for classes." Getz continues to paint, take art classes, and now is a copyist at the National Gallery of Art.
Nieves-Grafals explored art history through the alumni AUdit program. Nieves-Grafals reaches out to her psychology department colleagues and Latino Alumni Alliance contacts, matching exhibits and interests to encourage attendance. "Our museum makes AU special. It's a world-class museum that illustrates a commitment to bring the world to AU and AU to the world," she says.
The couple recently included a gift to the AU Museum in their will in addition to a previous designation to the department of psychology. The Sara Nieves-Grafals and Al Getz Museum Excellence Fund will support its operations. "Giving back to the museum is thinking of the future," the couple says. "People helped us. You continue it forward. It makes us happy to think that our contribution will help the museum to thrive. This is our legacy to the next generation."
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