Faculty and students speak from the heart about UC Santa Cruz
Wow, our faculty and students are this campus's best ambassadors. I was reminded of that over the weekend, when UC Santa Cruz trustee Garry Spire and his wife Ramyne hosted a reception in Los Angeles for parents, alumni, and friends of the campus.
On the program were Shelley Stamp, a professor of film and digital media, and undergraduate Jasmine Lee Ehrhardt. They each gave a short talk, and the audience was blown away by what they heard.
Shelley's work is fascinating. Her research focuses on the role of women in early Hollywood. I was telling old friends about her work just this morning. I had no idea that the top-grossing film of 1916 was directed by a woman, Lois Weber. Her film, Where Are My Children?, was about abortion and birth control. Weber was one of the top directors, along with Cecil B. DeMille and D. W. Griffith, and you have to wonder how her name has been lost to history. Women dominated many roles in Hollywood—as screenwriters, directors, and producers—and the majority of moviegoers were women, too. Shelley has been at the forefront of the effort to reclaim this lost history for two decades. Today, joined by a handful of scholars around the country, she remains the authoritative voice.
To be honest, I didn't envy Jasmine having to follow Shelley, but she was up to the task. A junior double majoring in literature and film, Jasmine described what her years at UC Santa Cruz have meant to her in deeply personal terms. She talked about how her classroom experiences have given meaning to her mixed-race identity and how Shelley's classes have built upon that sense of identity. College has awakened something inside her she didn't know was there, and her gratitude was palpable. When she was overcome by emotion and shed a few tears, the audience was as swept up in the emotion of the moment as she was. It was truly moving.
I'm grateful to Shelley and Jasmine for agreeing to represent the campus at this event. We are hosting a series of receptions this fall that are designed to get the word out about what we're doing at UC Santa Cruz and to build support for our three-part mission of teaching, research, and public service. With ambassadors like Shelley and Jasmine, we're off to a great start.
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