On the road... in Los Angeles

Photo of Hector Tobar, Antonio Ramirez, and Chancellor Blumenthal

I was delighted to spend time with emcee Hector Tobar, left, and Antonio Ramirez, whose son is graduating from UCSC next week.

Not to sound like a broken record, but I was so proud of the campus this past weekend when we hosted a series of events in Los Angeles. One-third of our students come from LA, and 15 percent of our alumni live and work there, so we took the show on the road—bringing faculty and students to town.

We hosted a reception and dinner on Saturday night that featured captivating TED-style talks by faculty members David Haussler, John Weber, and Terrie Williams. David hit it out of the park as he described the urgency of his work on the genomics of cancer, John presented the campus vision of the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, and Terrie inspired the crowd with her tale of working to save endangered species, from the Hawaiian monk seal to the African elephant.

The program also featured the music of Cowell College first-year students Jackson Vanover and Aaron Ho. I'd seen these two perform during our campuswide talent show, and they were just as good in front of this group of alumni, parents, trustees, and friends as they were before hundreds of their classmates. What great ambassadors they are!

For me, the highlight of the evening was when our Pulitzer Prize-winning emcee Hector Tobar (Oakes College, B.A. Latin American Studies and sociology, 1988) spoke about his experience at UCSC. Hector is the son of Guatemalan immigrants. He described the day his father, who worked in hotels to support the family, dropped off his son at UCSC with tears in his eyes, knowing Hector would get the college education he never did. And then Hector introduced us to Antonio Ramirez, a waiter serving us that night whose own son is graduating from UCSC in just two weeks. Beaming at the back of the ballroom, Antonio received a marvelously enthusiastic round of applause as the audience celebrated the accomplishments of another Banana Slug—and honored the proud father who made it possible.

From beginning to end, that event was fantastic. Guests were mesmerized by our faculty speakers and uplifted by the students who joined them over dinner. The buzz in the room all night was infectious. It's a privilege to work with such an outstanding group to serve this great university.

Comments or questions? Write to chancellor@ucsc.edu and put "June 1" in the subject line.