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Photo: Reunion group
Former Merrill dormmates Kathy Hansen, Nancy Moss-Racusin, and Kathy Doctor laugh at each other's 70s-era UCSC photos during Banana Slug Spring Fair as Nancy's husband, Porter alumnus Gary Racusin, looks on.
Photo: Matt Fitt

April 24, 2006

More than 800 celebrate Banana Slug Spring Fair

By Dori Schack

Despite the threat of rain, more than 800 alumni and guests returned to campus on Saturday, April 22, for Banana Slug Spring Fair reunions. A record 50 events provided plenty of reasons for graduates to return to their alma mater.

Photo: Guests at luncheon
Joel Biatch and Judy Einzig were among the 250 guests at the All-Alumni Reunion Lunch.
Photo: Matt Fitt
Assemblymember John Laird, Bryan Gross, Stephanie Coleman
California Assembly Member John Laird (’72, center) shares a laugh with Bryan Gross (Stevenson 1969) and Stephanie Wood Coleman (Merrill 1970) next to 60's-era photos of students and faculty.
Photo: Matt Fitt
Alumni panel
A panel discussion featuring distinguished graduates included (from left) Anne Flett-Giordano (Porter '76) and Chuck Ranberg (Porter '77), screenwriting partners who shared an Emmy award for the television sitcom Frasier; Ellen Chu (Crown '71), senior editor at the Government Accountability Office and a former faculty member at MIT; and nuclear policy expert George Perkovich (Cowell '81), vice president for studies at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (View more photos)
Photo: Doreen Schack

Alumni turned out in droves for social events, such as the ever-popular Alumni Vintners Wine Tasting; intellectually stimulating programs like the Humanities Division’s "Classes without Quizzes;" and opportunities for student interaction such as an Asian American and Pacific Islander student-alumni mentorship gathering.

In addition to the Wine Tasting, other popular events were the All-Alumni Reunion Luncheon; an alumni panel discussion featuring two Emmy Award-winning writers, a science writer, and an international expert on nuclear proliferation; the 40th anniversary of Stevenson College, including a faculty panel discussion entitled “UCSC Then and Now—40 years”; and economics and environmental studies departmental reunions.

“We were delighted with this year's outstanding response from alumni," said Carolyn Christopherson, executive director of the UCSC Alumni Association. "As much as they love to reconnect with one another and with former faculty, they're also keen to give back to today's students. Many of them chose to attend panels, ‘mentor circles,’ and college-based events where they could all interact with students in meaningful ways. The variety of reunions was fantastic. The colleges, the academic departments, the divisions all did their part to ‘roll out the red carpet’ for our grads. It was great.”

Speakers at a morning panel of distinguished alumni described enduring ways the campus had affected their lives. “UCSC gave me my best classes, my best roommates, my best friends,” said Ellen Chu (Crown '71), whose professional life has been dedicated to improving the quality of writing among scientists and technology leaders. Anne Flett-Giordano (Porter '76), who writes television sitcoms with Chuck Ranberg, repeated advice she’d received from a favorite theater arts professor, Eli Hollander: “It could be great, it could be a disaster…just do it!” Throughout her life, she said, she has followed that advice, and it has helped her achieve the career of her dreams.

Ranberg (Porter '77) demonstrated the knack for comedy that has made him famous. Contrasting the importance of his own work to that of nuclear policy analyst and fellow alumni panelist George Perkovich (Cowell '81), Ranberg quipped “No one is going to be upset if Iran is attempting to develop another TV sitcom.” The final speaker was Perkovich. For years, though sometimes tired from a job that entails international travel and immersion in policy studies, he would make every attempt to return home from work early on Tuesday evenings to watch his favorite show, the television sitcom Frasier, for which Flett-Giordano and Ranberg won an Emmy Award.

“I was a huge fan. I’d laugh for the entire half hour of that show,” he said, and would be ready to face another busy day.

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