Celebrate 50 years young

UC Santa Cruz started in 1965 as an unconventional place that pushed against the stodginess of educational institutions, a place where innovation—no matter how messy—was part of the campus's DNA.

Our celebrations of the campus's 50th anniversary—a year of festivities, reunions, talks, and collaborations—have been sensational successes, with sold-out events, world-class talent, and capacity crowds.

Below is a guide to a few of the year's anchor events; see the full list of events.

Join the fun and add your voice.

Dressing up to party down

In January, the campus kicked off its 50th birthday year with a fashion flourish with "Dress Like It's 1965 Day." Staff, faculty, students, and community members participated—and had a blast (from the past)! Outfits were judged by Mad Men Co-Costume Designer Tiffany White Stanton (Kresge '03, psychology). Check out the photos.

Alumni bash

A record-breaking crowd of revelers took part in a special 50th anniversary Alumni Weekend. The buzz about returning for next year's reunion filled Cowell Courtyard. Plans for Alumni Weekend 2016 (April 29–May 1) are already underway. The party gets better every year!

See more Alumni Weekend news and photos.

Fiat Fifty

This year's Founders Celebration, called Fiat Fifty, will be a spectacular evening under the stars in celebration of trailblazers, radicals, and legends. To be held September 26 on the campus's East Field, the evening—the crowning event of UC Santa Cruz's 50th celebratory year—promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

The dinner will be unlike anything the campus has done before. In a pavilion overlooking the Monterey Bay, Kathryn Sullivan (Stevenson '73, Earth sciences), the first American woman to walk in space, will be our master of ceremonies as we honor chef and food activist Alice Waters with the Foundation Medal and our pioneer staff and faculty with the Fiat Lux Award.

Hot Dates

Founders Celebration 2015

September 25

Faculty Research Lecture

Susan Strome, professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology

September 26

Fiat Fifty Dinner and Reception


Foundation Medal

Alice Waters, chef, restaurateur, activist, and author

Fiat Lux Award

Pioneer staff and faculty

In conversation with Herman Blake at McHenry Library

True Originals: "An Incubator of Stars"

Moderated by Chancellor George Blumenthal, featuring astrophysicist alumni

Douglas Duncan, CU Boulder

Geoff Marcy, UC Berkeley

Steven Hawley, Kansas University

Other 50th events

September 12

Farm to Fork Benefit Dinner

September 12

Cowell Ranch Hay Barn Dedication

September 15

Retirees/Emeriti Brunch

September 20

Arboretum 50th Jubilee

September 25

Pioneer Alumni Welcome

Celebrating the incoming class of 1965

September 27

Pioneer Alumni Brunch

October 15

Ken Norris Memorial Lecture

Russ Flegal

Pete Raimondi

Kristy Kroeker

Moderated by Ryan Coonerty, Santa Cruz County 3rd District Supervisor

October 25

Slug Parade & Expo

Downtown Santa Cruz

November 10

Emeriti Lecture

Pavel Machotka

November 12

6th Annual Morton Marcus Memorial Poetry Reading Al Young, California Poet Laureate

We thank our Fiat Fifty sponsors for their generosity and support in making this a memorable celebration.

Redwood Level Sponsors

OW Family Properties

Diginity Dominican

Diginity Dominican

Gordon (Crown '72) and Tanya Ringold

Fieldhouse Level Sponsors

Barry Swenson Builder

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk


Scharf Investments LLC

Anne Beroza

Stevenson '72

Sarah C. Latham

Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services

Linda S. Peterson

Stevenson '70, UC Santa Cruz Foundation Trustee and Chair, Campaign Steering Committee