News | 30 March 2013

Alumni Weekend: Reliving memories, making new ones


A Banana Slug family got into the spirit of things during last year's alumni weekend celebration on campus. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

A Banana Slug family got into the spirit of things during last year’s alumni weekend celebration on campus. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Roma Sprung (Porter ’74, biology), is eager to reconnect with the campus she left behind.

“I haven’t been in this region of the world for years,” she said. “I was in France. I was in the East Coast. There is something about revisiting my roots.”

On Alumni Reunion Weekend, from April 26 to 28, Sprung and hundreds of other prodigal Slugs will get their chance.  With a full weekend schedule of events, UCSC grads will have many opportunities to make brand-new collegiate memories at a series of exhibitions, tours, discussions, lunches, and receptions.

And while they make new memories, they can also preserve their old ones by bringing in their vintage college-days photos to the campus library and getting them digitized for posterity.

Meanwhile, alumni are generating excitement, and a large dose of nostalgia, by adding their digital UCSC photos to an online album that is already chockablock with images that are bound to bring back the old days, from an image of “Banana Slug Suckers” to shots of the Quarry Plaza and a slimy banana slug making its slow way through a redwood forest on campus.

The weekend, with a  “Go To Your Happy Place” theme, promises to attract a lively mixture of old-timers and “pioneer’’ class members who can remember the trailers and portables of vintage UCSC along with younger alumni just starting to make their way in the world.

In its 48 years, UCSC has grown an alumni base of over 80,000 graduates who are leaving their marks in industries as diverse as entertainment, law, politics, and medical robotics. UCSC is also a relatively young institution with a robustly youthful alumni base. An estimated 50 percent of UCSC’s total alumni graduated since 1997.

Alumni of all ages and interests will be treated to a wide-ranging menu of events.

A few examples: Saturday, April 27, from 2:30 to 4 p.m, a selection of outstanding faculty will present Teach-Ins: An Academic Afternoon, in which they will talk about subjects ranging from dream research to video games—and there will be no grades, no cram sessions, and no multiple choice quizzes of any kind, guaranteed. (Read the feature story about the upcoming Teach-Ins)

For Sprung, this will be a great opportunity to catch up with one of the presenters, Robert L. Sinsheimer Prof. of Molecular Biology Harry Noller.

“I haven’t seen Harry since I left,” she said. “He was, honestly, my very best professor in the world.”

This is not one of those cases of a returning student waxing poetic about a professor because he was an easy grader. “His course was incredibly difficult,” said Sprung, now an Ashland, Oregon-based internist who does emergency medicine. “I had to memorize the structures of amino acids. We were all really young. (But) he was brilliant, devoted, and dedicated.”

Donna Mekis (College Eight ’84, anthropology; education M.A., ’91) is so excited about the reunion that she’s personally invited 25 other Slugs to attend.

Mekis, a vice president of the UCSC Alumni Association, said that the campus’s looming 50thanniversary celebration in 2015 is adding a sense of history and gravitas to the next few reunions.

“We in the Alumni Association have been talking about the fact that (UCSC) is coming of age,” Mekis said. “It is a very good time to come back and celebrate the campus and the quality of our graduates.”

Mekis has a longstanding connection to campus, and not just because she’s a Slug. Between 1984 and 1991 she worked in the Admissions Office, coordinating the transfer admissions program.

 It would be impossible for attendees to take advantage of every single alumni reunion weekend offering, but they could give it a try. Some of the highlights are:

• Banana Slug Lunch: Dine and Rewind: Saturday, April 27, 12–2 p.m., Porter College Dining Hall – $20

• Teach-Ins: An Academic Afternoon: Saturday, April 27, 2:30-4 p.m., Porter College Rooms. Read the feature story about this ground-breaking event.

• Alumni Wine Reception: Saturday, April 27, 4–6 p.m., Porter Courtyard

The weekend will also be marked by special celebrations and  a host of important campus anniversaries including:

• Merrill College’s 45th anniversary

• Computer Engineering’s 25th anniversary

• Lionel Cantu Queer Center’s 15th anniversary

• Long Marine Lab’s 35th anniversary

• Professor Gary Griggs’s 45th anniversary of teaching

• UCSC Campus Natural Reserve’s 25th anniversary

•  dinner honoring J. Herman Blake, founding provost of Oakes

•  a celebration of the late Don Rothman, a beloved emeriti writing lecturer.

Article written by Dan White.