What a great weekend

Photo of students rehearsing for UCSC's Got Talent!

Benjamin Du, Andrew Kang, and Che-An Wu rehearsed before UCSC's campuswide talent show. They were one one of the top-three acts. (Photo by Peggy Townsend)

Photo of Stevenson College alumni, class of 1969 and 1970.

Cowell alumni, class of 1973, got in the Banana Slug spirit during Alumni Weekend. Current students, below, took advantage of the always-popular photo booth, too.

Photo of current UCSC students at Alumni Weekend.

Where to start after such a fantastic weekend? At the beginning, I guess, which was Friday night's campuswide talent show at the Stevenson Event Center. Wow, Banana Slugs really do have talent!

Ten acts made it through preliminaries to perform for a packed house on Friday, and I was so impressed by the range of talent: piano, guitar, Irish dance, singing, juggling—there was even a yo-yo master! Everyone was so professional, and everybody had fun, including the judges. Dean of Students Alma Sifuentes was doing her best to channel television's Simon Cowell, and Police Chief Nader Oweis shared a few Arabic dance steps. As for the contestants, they are all winners in my book, but a special congratulations to Casey Dayan and Sean Campbell, who took home the $2,000 scholarship (which was funded by the UCSC Alumni Association). I was invited to be a judge next year, and I can't wait.

Alumni Weekend was a big success, drawing grads from across the country-- and at least one woman from Europe; I know, because I talked with her. The Oakes College dedication of a plaque in memory of Don Rothman was moving. Many speakers talked eloquently of what Don meant to their lives. From there, I attended the all-alumni lunch at Porter, where I got into the spirit of the  "happy place" theme of the weekend by sharing my personal top ten list (see below). My wife Kelly joined me for the Lavender Reception at the Cantu Center before we headed to the University Center for the tribute dinner to Herman Blake. I've never seen the place so packed! Three of Herman's children were able to attend, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee turned down a date on Sunday-morning television with George Stephanopoulos to honor her former mentor. I do believe Herman's tenure as provost of Oakes was instrumental in setting the campus on the pathway to today's diversity, and we are indebted to him for that—and much more.

Sunday's Dizikes Concert was outstanding, with original members of the Cowell Madrigal Singers performing under the direction of founder Paul Rabwin (who joked that "we rehearse five hours every 40 years"). It was a kick to see one singer relying on an iPad—"performing 16th-century music with 21st-century technology," as Paul quipped. The concert spanned the generations when Acquire, one of UCSC's thriving a cappella groups, took the stage. They nearly brought the house down with their rendition of "Circle of Life" from The Lion King. It was the two groups' collaboration on Paul Simon's "America" that got everyone in the crowd on their feet for an enthusiastic standing ovation. It really was fantastic, and the audience loved every minute. I wrapped up the weekend with a visit to the exhibition at the Digital Arts Research Center.

Congratulations to all the staff and faculty who worked so hard to make the weekend such a success. Here's that Top Ten list:

UCSC has been my happy place for 41 years. Here's a Top Ten list that captures just ten favorite memories:

#10: My very first visit to campus, as a UC San Diego grad student attending an all-UC conference. It was amazing. I'd never seen a campus like this.

#9: Cold dark matter. This campus allowed me, as a researcher, to make a significant contribution, for which I will always be grateful.

#8: The moment the elevator I was stuck in opened on October 17, 1989--45 minutes after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck.

#7: The East Field is one of my favorite places. The view is spectacular; it's where my investiture as chancellor took place, and this is where commencement takes place each spring. It's a very happy place.

#6: The day in 1986 when students made the Banana Slug our official campus mascot. The slug prevailed, besting the sea lion in a campuswide vote. On the 25th anniversary in 2011, the Buttery made special-edition banana slug cookies, and the City Council proclaimed September 27th the "Day of the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug Mascot." How far we've come!

#5: The first time I biked up to campus. I made it to the top, but it wasn't easy!

#4: I have had the pleasure of knowing all four of UCSC's alumni regents: Paul Hall, Alan Goodman, Gary Novack, and Ken Feingold.
They've all done great work for the campus and the university, and they make me proud.

#3: I'm pleased to have played a behind-the-scenes role in securing a staff advisor to the Regents. The story includes a hushed conversation with a UCLA staffer that took place behind a potted palm—I felt a little like James Bond!

#2: This one goes back to 1983 or so: The day I gave my professor's inaugural lecture at Oakes College was a very happy moment. Making full professor and being introduced by Herman Blake was a winning combination!

My #1 happy memory from this happy place is pretty recent: On February 1, I had the honor of accompanying astronomy professor Sandy Faber to the White House where President Obama presented her with the National Medal of Science. What a moment. It's one we can all share and in which we can take great pride!

Comments or questions? Write to chancellor@ucsc.edu and put "Weekend" in the subject line.