Alumni Reunion Weekend: Celebrating Slugs of the past, present, and future

Alumni Reunion Weekend, Banana Slug Day, and Cowell and Stevenson Family Day fills UCSC campus

Alumni Bill Hirsch (Cowell ’73, politics) and Rus Scott (Cowell ’73, mathematics) attend their 50th reunion
Alumni classes of ’65-’73 gather to celebrate their 50th reunion and to be honored as Golden Slug Alumni
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success and Equity, Ebonee Williams, speaks to admitted students on Banana Slug Day
Cowell College alumni gather at provost house for a John Dizikes Concert

UC Santa Cruz was bustling with alumni, current students, admitted students, and families on the weekend of April 14-16. The sunny and warm weekend—reflective of perfect weather conditions in Santa Cruz—welcomed the crowds of past, present, and future Banana Slugs roaming across campus and the town. 

Over 150 alumni from the golden alumni classes of 1965-1973 gathered to celebrate their 50th (or more) reunion milestone and reconnect with the university and friends. The class of 1973 celebrated their 50th reunion.

Alumni Reunion Weekend was made up of over 20 events, including intimate college gatherings, time to mingle with current and admitted students, and opportunities to explore the campus. 

One of the most popular events, The Then and Now Tours, provided alumni the opportunity to see changes to the UCSC campus. For some alumni it was the first time they had been on campus for over 30 years. 

“It was amazing to see these extraordinary alumni gather at UC Santa Cruz last weekend,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor of Alumni Engagement John D. Pine. “For many of our alumni, this was the first time they had been to campus in many years. We decided to take a new approach with Alumni Reunion Weekend this year, and it’s great to see the payoff. We are excited to welcome back these golden alumni classes every year.” 

Alumni Reunion Weekend also happened in conjunction with Banana Slug Day—an event welcoming newly admitted students to UCSC. The campus saw over 2,000 admitted students and their families, in addition to returning alumni. 

“Campus was buzzing on Saturday and the energy was contagious. Having Banana Slug Day happen alongside Alumni Reunion Weekend was such a special opportunity for our alumni, students and their families,” said Executive Director of Alumni Engagement Shayna Kent. “Cowell and Stevenson also hosted family day bringing current students and families to events. The dynamic between our pioneer alumni, current students, and admitted students was such a memorable and special event.” 

Trying something new 

UCSC’s Alumni Engagement Team has been hard at work for months planning the reinvisioned alumni reunion weekend, and were ecstatic to see their work come to fruition last weekend. 

In past years, 50th reunions have been spearheaded by alumni volunteers with the support of the UCSC alumni engagement team. Beginning in 2023, the alumni engagement team prioritized organizing and celebrating 50+ Reunion Classes—an important milestone for alumni and the campus. Honoring the first generation of alumni celebrates the founding vision for UCSC’s unique campus. 

Alumni celebrations have been split into two separate weekend events in the spring and summertime. This past weekend, UCSC hosted  Alumni Reunion Weekend celebrating alumni who graduated 50+ years ago. Then, in August, the University will offer “Return to the Redwoods,” a first-of-its-kind residential campus experience where alumni will be able to stay overnight in the residence halls.

Return to the Redwoods 

Return to the Redwoods will welcome alumni back to campus for a full weekend of celebration, Santa Cruz exploration, and outdoor adventures from August 18-20, 2023. 

For the first time, alumni can spend the weekend on campus in either a traditional dorm setting, a full apartment, or find nearby accommodations. 

The weekend will include outdoor adventure activities such as campus hikes, kayak tours, mountain biking, surf lessons, interactive campus experiences, and more. In addition, open houses across campus will be held, as well as evening activities in the Quarry Amphitheatre. 

“Return to the Redwoods is a program unlike any other,” Pine says. “This exciting and innovative event encourages alumni to reconnect with the physical UC Santa Cruz campus and invites them to relive their college experience for a weekend with friends and family. All alumni and their guests (children, friends, etc.) are welcome to come spend a weekend in the redwoods.” 

Stay tuned for registration dates and more information.