Alumni Weekend Campus Walk

Justin Brown tells about astronomy stargazing nights on Alumni Weekend
Astronomy grad student Justin Brown tells about stargazing nights on the Alumni weekend PDW campus walk, not far from the proposed IAS site.

Alumni Weekend 2015 was a lot of fun. We had around 2500 alums and family come back to campus, and the weather was typically perfect. (We were actually hoping for some rain, but it never showed up.) The IAS did two events—our third campus walk with Harrell, Molly, and Nolan from Public Doors and Windows, and an Open House reception following the curatorial panel organized by Jock Reynolds '69. Our Open House was crowded and festive, but mostly I want to talk about the campus walk.  

This walk was a bit shorter than the first two, clocking in at just over two hours. Nevertheless, we covered a lot of ground, both historically and topographically. In consultation with PDW, Rachel Nelson and I had assembled five speakers, including a current student, a 2014 alumna, a mid-90s grad, and two alums from the early years. Listening to them at the sites they chose to commemorate, our group of around 70 traversed at least a couple hundred feet of vertical climb as we walked from the Institute site on lower campus up to Engineering 1 above Science Hill, and heard stories ranging from the campus landscape design process before UC Santa Cruz even opened, up to activities happening today.

Our speakers and topics were:

• Grad student Justin Brown—on organizing stargazing nights for students and the community, and what it's like to actually look at the cosmological universe that his work in theory attempts to understand through math and physics. His site was adjacent to the music buildings and the proposed IAS site. 

• Recent alumna Nikki Dominguez—on the strong support system at UCSC and our Academic Resource Center (her site) for "AB540" students like herself and her sister, who came to the U.S. as small children with their parents.  

• 1990s grad Erin O'Toole—on seeing a Guerilla Girls poster in the Baskin Art Studios area as a student and realizing that art could express political and social ideas, and the importance of that realization to her subsequent career. Today she is a curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

• 1970s alum and former Campus Architect Frank Zwart—on the plan for a clock tower at the heart of the UCSC campus, proposed in the early 1960s and soon scrapped by Thomas Church, the renowned landscape architect who created UC Santa Cruz's unique campus plan. His site, on Science Hill, was near the proposed clock tower site.  

• 1970s alumna Betsy Anderson—on working with faculty member and muralist Edwardo Carrillo to create a mural in the Applied Arts building, formerly the site of art studios. Painted over when the Applied Arts building became Engineering 1, the mural is now just a ghost under layers of decade's old paint, but its impact on students like Betsy remains strong.  

This gives you just a glimpse of the Alumni Weekend walk. Like the PDW "Collective Museum" project as a whole, it was illuminating, unexpected, and moving.  

And just so you know, we have been working hard behind the scenes on the Collective Museum itself. It will have these sites, and more than 40 more. Stay tuned for its launch in early 2016!