Alumni return to campus for weekend of reunions, other events

Alan Richards, right, recipient of the Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching Award, is congratulated by Chancellor Blumenthal.
Rosie Cabrera, also with Chancellor Blumenthal, received the Alumni Association's Outstanding Staff Award.
Action was fast and furious during a after-lunch match between the women's soccer team and an alumni squad.
This year's reunion festivities included a "young alumni" party in downtown Santa Cruz. Sammy the Slug is apparently ageless! (All photos: Phillip Carter)

Reunion Weekend 2009 kicked off on Friday night with a packed house at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz to hear Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Intellectual Forum address. The audience clung to his words on our "environmental destiny" as he spoke for 90 minutes, only stopping during moments of applause to sip his water.

On Saturday, the weather was as good as the mood at UCSC as hundreds of alumni enjoyed events across campus. The day began with the Intellectual Forum Panel Discussion to discuss Kennedy's keynote on Friday night. Joan Fitting Scott, president of the Alumni Association, moderated the conversation between the panelists: NPR correspondent Richard Harris, "White House Farmer" Claire Strader, and Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies Daniel Press.

The panel was followed by the presentation of the Distinguished Teaching Award given to Alan Richards, professor of environmental studies, and the Outstanding Staff Award, presented to Rosie Cabrera, director of the Chicano Latino Resource Center. (See advance story.)

At the forum's conclusion, guests paraded to the Stevenson Courtyard for a casual picnic lunch, where they enjoyed a delicious spread of locally grown food as well as wine and beer from alumni vintners and brew masters.

Sammy the Slug made a guest appearance at the lunch and presented Chancellor George Blumenthal with an oversized, ceremonial check for $744,457, representing donations made to campus so far this year by graduates celebrating their 5- through 40-year reunions; the total is more than double last year's "reunion class" giving. The men's soccer team entered the courtyard with enthusiasm, cheering with the alumni chanting, "Go Slugs! Go Slugs!" The team escorted Chancellor Blumenthal down to the soccer field for a game against alumni.

The reunion weekend theme of "Our Environmental Destiny" resonated throughout the weekend. Five Zenn cars zipped throughout campus, shuttling alumni from events and showcasing their zero-emission, no-noise feature. The new EcoAlum debuted at Reunion Weekend, organizing 80 alumni throughout the weekend to join this network of environmental alumni.

As the evening rolled on, the Pioneer Class celebrated its 40th Reunion with the pioneer tradition of a steak and ice cream Sunday celebratory dinner. The graduates of the last 10 years partied the night away at the Young Alumni Party at Cypress Lounge in downtown Santa Cruz.

"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."