With over 6,000 alumni expected to return to campus this weekend, the UCSB Alumni Association is hosting a variety of events, ranging from lectures to athletics, as part of the seventh annual All Gaucho Reunion.
The series of events will kick off today and continue through Sunday with activities such as Gaucho Friday, GreekFest, the sixth Annual Gaucho Gallop and the third Annual Taste of UCSB. In addition to providing an opportunity for cross-generational interaction between former Gauchos, the weekend’s festivities are designed to encourage active alumni participation within the university’s community and solicit financial support.
According to John Lofthus, Associate Director for the UCSB Alumni Association, the All Gaucho Reunion is meant to encourage alumni to become involved in three areas: philanthropy, advocacy and service. While 40 percent of university funding came from the state a mere decade ago, that amount has dropped to 17 percent, making private support more important for the success of the university, Lofthus said.
“We want alumni to understand that you may be a student for four years, but we need alumni to stay connected to UCSB for their entire lives,” said Lofthus. “That’s the only way to maintain the greatness of UCSB.”
Rachael Rutkowski, Gaucho Gallop and Sponsorship Coordinator and fourth-year political science and history major, said UCSB has traditionally chosen to host annual reunions because, although there are multiple methods of reaching out to alumni, the campus-wide event allows for an environment where students can interact and mingle with Gauchos of the past.
“It’s a great way to network with alumni, a really important thing the Alumni Association likes to push,” Rutkowski said. “But obviously the events are fun as well.”
Gaucho Friday, a new event for this year’s celebration, encourages Gauchos all over campus to show their school spirit by sporting UCSB gear. Beginning at noon in the Arbor, students wearing blue and gold may be given gift cards and tickets to enter a raffle. From noon to 1 p.m. students can also donate items to an Associated Students food bank collection drive and purchase official Gaucho Friday shirts for $5.
Greek Night at Savoy will kick off GreekFest on Friday night with appetizers and a toast. Other Greek events taking place throughout the weekend include chapter house open houses, a barbecue at Greek Park on Saturday and a “Greek and Friends” brunch at the Faculty Club on Sunday.
Saturday morning will bring the sixth Annual Gaucho Gallop, which includes a 5K, 10K, Kids Dash and even a Dioji Dog Dash. According to Rutkowski, the Gaucho Challenge, however, is much more than a simple foot race. Last year, teams of two navigated a 5K course wrought with both mental and physical challenges that would test everything from the contestants’ knowledge of Jack Johnson to their tortilla throwing abilities.
Rutkowski said the event was an enormous success last year with sold-out tickets and the hopes are high for this year, as well.
The third Annual Taste of UCSB will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday in the Recreation Center Courtyard. According to Paulina Tran, Taste of UCSB Coordinator and 2012 alum, 35 vintners, brewers and food vendors will participate in the event, allowing visitors to taste gourmet wines, beers and foods from all around the UCSB area. Several I.V. restaurants will also be in attendance, such as South Coast Deli, Crushcakes, Bagel Cafe and Woodstocks.
The event will also feature live performances by Acapella Voices, a Polynesian dance group and two alumni bands. The cost is $25 for students before the event or $30 the day of, and students must be 21 or older to attend.
In line with this year’s reunion theme is the sold-out Arts and Lectures event, “An Evening with Alice Waters,” to take place at 6 p.m. in Campbell Hall. Following a book signing, Waters will receive an Honorary Alumni Award in recognition of her success in the culinary world and advocacy of healthy food education. According to Lofthus, Waters, who has written more than 10 books and serves as vice president of Slow Food International, has been a long-desired speaker on the UCSB campus.
“Even though she didn’t graduate from UCSB, she is an alumnus and someone that we’re really proud of and that we’ve wanted for some time to invite back to campus,” Lofthus said. “This seemed like the perfect time.”
Other events of the weekend include Communication Career Day, the UCSB Primavera Festival, a senior breakfast, a theater performance, lectures about the history of beer and coffee, softball and soccer games, rugby events, bowling and golf tournaments and multiple receptions, luncheons and dinners. A full list of events can be found on the All Gaucho Reunion website, www.llgauchoreunion.com.