More than 300 people turned out for the seventh annual UC Santa Cruz Scholarship Benefit Dinner that took place Saturday night at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

Attendees and sponsors raised over $160,000 for undergraduate scholarships at the dinner--one of UCSC's premier fundraising events--which sold out several weeks ago.

"Tonight's theme is 'Inspiring Innovation,' and what better place to gather than here in the heart of Silicon Valley, the very center of innovation," noted UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal. "I think we Banana Slugs share a spirit of innovation with the valley--a drive to think outside of the box."

"At UC Santa Cruz, we like to say that education transforms lives," Blumenthal added. "Your support makes those transformations possible. Our students are passionate about education, and they graduate passionate about making a difference in the world."

Keynote speakers at the dinner included Dan Roam, author of the international bestselling book The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures.

Roam--who graduated from UCSC in 1988 with a double major in biology and fine art--treated the crowd to a brief demonstration of his popular "back of the napkin" technique, using the museum's impressive IMAX screen as a backdrop to project his work.

Twenty-six-year-old UCSC alumnus and entrepreneur Ezequiel Olvera Jr. also spoke at the event, noting that he gained inspiration from professors at UCSC who really cared about his success.

"Student scholarship support is greatly needed as the next generation of students prepares to enter the halls of academia," Olvera said. "Let's expand their world. Let's give them the key, the opportunity to prosper, to be innovative, and to give back to their community."

More than $160,000 has been raised so far, and donations are still coming in. Additional contributions may be directed to Kathleen Hughes at (831) 459-4552 or khughes@ucsc.edu.

For more information, and to view photos from the 2010 UCSC Scholarship Benefit Dinner, visit the SBD web site.