Alumni flock to campus for Reunion Weekend 2008

Professor Stephen Gliessman celebrated receiving the Alumni Association's 2007-08 Distinguished Teaching Award with wife Roberta Jaffe, science education coordinator at UCSC's New Teacher Center (left) and former student Robin Krieger Mejia (Porter '97).
Chancellor Blumenthal with Intellectual Forum participants (from left) John Kao, Katy Roberts (Kresge '74), Shellye Archambeau and Victor Davis Hanson (Cowell '75). (Photos by Terry Way)

The mood was as sunny as the skies on Saturday, when hundreds of alumni returned to campus for Reunion Weekend 2008.

Chancellor George Blumenthal received a warm reception as he welcomed alumni, donors, and friends to the sold-out All-Alumni Reunion Luncheon and Awards Celebration. In his remarks, he noted several recent campus "coups": the ongoing transformation of McHenry Library into a state-of-the-art facility, the record number of applicants for 2008-09 admission, and the recent donation of the Grateful Dead's archives.

"We are all Deadheads now, for the moment at least," he said, to laughter and applause.

At the conclusion of Blumenthal's remarks, UCSC Alumni Association Council President Joan Fitting Scott (Stevenson '69) presented him with an oversized, ceremonial check for $301,398, representing donations made to campus so far this year by graduates celebrating their 5- through 40-year reunions-an amount almost double last year's reunion class giving.

As she awarded the Alumni Association's 2007-08 Outstanding Staff Award to Bob Hastings, director of current student services at the Division of Graduate Studies, Scott gave tribute to Hastings's efficiency, thoroughness, and student advocacy. Students feel Hastings is "their anchor, a lifesaver," she said, as he helps them navigate administrative requirements on their way to postgraduate degrees. Next, Stephen Gliessman, Heller Professor of Agroecology in environmental studies, received the Association's Distinguished Teaching Award for his engaged, inspirational, and "hands on" pedagogy and eager sponsorship of internships and senior theses.

The luncheon was briefly interrupted by sign-waiving protesters calling upon the campus to sign a contract with staff unions.

Later in the day, guests flocked to the campus's first-ever Intellectual Forum. Moderator Katy Roberts (Kresge '74), New York Times senior editor helping the paper's transition to digital media, facilitated a stimulating exchange of views on innovation and education in a global society. Panelists were "innovation guru" John Kao, Silicon Valley CEO Shellye Archambeau, and nationally syndicated columnist and social critic Victor Davis Hanson (Cowell '75). (See "Innovation seen emerging from new 'smooshes.'")

At the forum's conclusion, guests enjoyed wines from alumni vintners at Saintsbury Vineyard, Bonny Doon Vineyard, and Ursa Vineyards.

"We are grateful to the entire campus community for opening its arms to alumni, offering almost 40 different Reunion Weekend receptions, reunions, and showcase events," said Alumni Association Executive Director Carolyn Christopherson. "Faculty, staff, students, and others with whom they interact create an enduring connection between graduates and the campus, facilitating ever-greater levels of support."