Alumni Weekend—Come Home

Banana Slugs everywhere: You don't want to miss Alumni Weekend 2015, celebrating our 50th anniversary—it's gonna be the party of the half-century

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The 11th annual Graduate Research Symposium will highlight the innovative research being conducted by graduate students in 38 programs across 5 academic divisions. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)
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Distinguished alumnus M. Sanjayan (Ph.D. biology, '97) will deliver the alumni keynote address, "True Originals: A New Wild: Saving Nature in a Human-Dominated World."
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Story Quarry will allow revelers to document their stories and experiences from the beloved and historic UC Santa Cruz Quarry Amphitheater. Reopening the Quarry Amphitheater is among the priorities of The Campaign for UC Santa Cruz.
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Cinephiles should take care not to miss an unusual opportunity: "True Originals: 50 Years of American Film Comedies."
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Professor Craig Haney will give a presentation entitled, "Think Different: Why Everything We've Been Taught About Crime is Wrong and What We Need to Do About It."
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Professor Bettina Aptheker will discuss "Feminism and Social Justice."

Every Alumni Weekend feels like a milestone for returning Banana Slugs and a chance to be part of a living history.

But those impulses will be stronger than ever during this year's festivities, which run from Thursday, April 23, through Sunday, April 26, at UC Santa Cruz. The event serves as one of the anchor pieces of the campus's yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, which kicked off in January with "Dress Like It's 1965 Day."

In honor of this important milestone, organizers have put together the most elaborate Alumni Weekend ever, with more than 70 activities geared to Banana Slugs from all 50 years of the campus's history.

We detail some of the highlights of the gathering here, but there are many more events, happenings, and opportunities throughout the weekend; for a full listing of events and to register, visit the Alumni Weekend website.

Thursday kick-off

Early arrivals—especially those who've thought about offering a guiding hand to current UC Santa Cruz students—should flock to Mentor Match: A student & alumni networking dinner, starting at 7 p.m. at the Stevenson Event Center. The dinner serves as a chance to connect with other Slugs and provide guidance for the next generation.

Friday festivities

Among the highlights will be an all-day off-campus TEDxSantaCruz event on Friday, April 24, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz. The focus of the event, which is partially sponsored by UC Santa Cruz, is "Radical Collaboration." Featured speakers include UC Santa Cruz faculty, graduate students, and alumni.

Back on campus that Friday, the 11th annual Graduate Research Symposium—highlighting the innovative research being conducted by graduate students in 38 programs across 5 academic divisions, and featuring a bench of alumni judges—takes place from 1–4:30 p.m. at McHenry Library.

That night at 7:30 p.m., distinguished alumnus M. Sanjayan (Ph.D. biology, '97) will deliver the alumni keynote address, "True Originals: A New Wild: Saving Nature in a Human-Dominated World." Sanjayan, executive vice president and senior scientist for Conservation International and host of new PBS series EARTH A New Wild, will share stories and images from his global quest to explore what it means to save nature in a world where wildness no longer exists. Looking beyond the expected devastation of human activity wrought on the natural world, Sanjayan found places—most at the frontiers of where people and wildlife meet—where people can help nature thrive.

During the event, Sanjayan will be presented with the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Achievement award, given annually by the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Association to honor alumni who have rendered special and outstanding service to UC Santa Cruz or who, by personal achievement, have brought distinction to the university. 

Saturday schedule

While there will be some familiar faces and events at this year's Alumni Weekend, expect some brand-new twists, too. This year, little Banana Slugs will have a place to mingle and play, with a Banana Slug Kid Zone event that will take place on Saturday, April 25, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. on the Founder's Glen Lawn.

Another new event this year is Story Quarry, where revelers, starting at 11 a.m., can document their stories and experiences from the beloved and historic UC Santa Cruz Quarry Amphitheater. Reopening the Quarry Amphitheater is among the priorities of The Campaign for UC Santa Cruz.

Cinephiles should take care not to miss an unusual opportunity: "True Originals: 50 Years of American Film Comedies," in which distinguished alumnus Ron Yerxa (Grad Division '74) will have an upbeat conversation with the Santa Cruz Sentinel's Wallace Baine. The two will discuss comedies over the past 50 years that provide an escape from the ordeal of American life and those that embrace our social conditions head-on. The event is 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at the Humanities Lecture Hall.

All these non-stop exciting events are bound to make people hungry. The Banana Slug Lunch: Farm Fresh, Family Style will be held from 12:30- 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, at the Cowell Courtyard. Lunch will be sourced from local farms and served family style. This event will have a whole different look and feel this year because of the strong focus on the past 50 years of memories at UC Santa Cruz.

A group of distinguished speakers will give the past its due at a talk entitled, "Tales as Tall as the Redwoods: Reflections on UC Santa Cruz's Founding Years," scheduled for 2–3:30 p.m. at Stevenson Fireside Lounge.

Expect a capacity crowd at this year's rendition of the always popular Teach Ins, featuring two distinguished UC Santa Cruz faculty members who will give returning Banana Slugs the delicious feeling of getting back into the classroom without the final exams. Professors Craig Haney and Bettina Aptheker will give informal, separate talks, both scheduled from 2:30–3:45 p.m. at Stevenson College.

Haney, a professor of psychology, will give a presentation entitled, "Think Different: Why Everything We've Been Taught About Crime is Wrong and What We Need to Do About It." Stevenson, Room 175. Professor Haney will describe the political and media misrepresentations of the nature and causes of crime in our society and their consequences in help ing to fuel what he describes as "a very expensive and misguided set of crime-control policies over the last several decades."

Bettina Aptheker, distinguished professor and UC Presidential Co-Chair of feminist critical race and ethnic studies, will discuss "Feminism and Social Justice." Her talk is set for Stevenson, Room 150.

Aptheker's research covers such issues as feminist oral history and memoir, feminist pedagogy, African American feminist history, sexuality/queer studies, and Jewish studies.

She hopes the Teach In is a chance to say hello to former students and reach out to people she has never met before, "and are not familiar with the work, not only mine, personally, but also feminist studies. It is such a vibrant department, and it feels great to spread the word about it."

Also on Saturday, April 25, the highly anticipated True Originals series continues with "Money, Politics, Climate Change and the Law: Will We Rise to the Challenge?" at 11 a.m–12: 30 p.m. at the Stevenson Fireside Lounge and featuring Judge Kelvin Filer (Stevenson '77), Los Angeles Superior Court in Compton; Judge Alan J. Goodman (Stevenson '67), Los Angeles Superior Court; Judge Teri Jackson (Stevenson '77), San Francisco Superior Court; Troy Smith, Los Angeles Legal Aid (invited); and Zach Wasserman (Merrill '69), public interest lawyer in Oakland. The moderator is Paul Hall (Merrill '72), partner, DLA Piper's litigation practice, San Francisco.

The True Originals series continues that day with two concurrent talks. One of them should be of interest to any budding, seasoned, or wellestablished creative writer. It is titled "The Santa Cruz Stairway—Today's Writing and Publishing Strategies from Fiction to Memoir to Handmade Books," 2:30–4 p.m., Saturday, April 25, at McHenry Library, Room 4285.

A second True Originals talk— also set for 2:30–4 p.m.—will give participants a strong sense of the art world with a presentation entitled, "From Here to Modernity: Perspectives from Distinguished Museum Professionals," set to take place at DARC Room 230.

Those who would like to recharge and unwind in between all these button-pushing dialogues and presentations will have many chances to do so. The Sunset and Wine alumni wine reception will run from 4–6 p.m. in the Cowell Courtyard, and the appealing Bonfire by the Bay should be nice and toasty from 6–8 p.m. at the East Field Volleyball Court.

This gathering will be the perfect way to end the day, with stunning views of Monterey Bay, s'mores galore, food trucks, and old friends.

Festivities continue Sunday with brunches, tours, the annual Dizikes Concert, and other events.

All these activities will add up to an unforgettable experience beneath the redwoods as returning Banana Slugs reflect on the past, the present, and the next 50 years.

For a full listing of Alumni Weekend 2015 events, visit the Alumni Weekend website