UCSB welcomed back alumni for the eighth annual All Gaucho Reunion, which took place from Thursday through Sunday of last week and raised over $75,000 for UCSB student scholarships.

The days of events were part of a series called “Discover UCSB” and about 6,000 alumni made it out to event. The All Gaucho Reunion was produced by the UCSB Alumni Association, a nonprofit organization that serves the university’s 175,000-plus alumni, and alumni donations went toward areas of campus such as the Associated Students Food Bank.

John Lofthus, a class of ’00 alumnus, currently serves as the Associate Director of the UCSB Alumni Association. Lofthus said this year’s All Gaucho Reunion was highly successful in reengaging alumni and facilitating networking and other relationships between alumni and the current student body and campus life.

“It is critically important to establish a connection with young alumni and alumni in general — get them back here and show them things here on campus that maybe did not exist when they were in school,” Lofthus said. “We did an exceptional job this year doing that.”

All UCSB students, faculty, staff and members of the local community were invited to participate in the reunion’s events, which included activities varying from a 5K run, to wine-and-dine parties, to keynote lectures. A featured event on Thursday, for example, consisted of the All Gaucho Reunion Kick Off Bash, a welcoming event at the Historic El Paseo Restaurant.

On Saturday, a 5K race/walk event called the Gaucho Gallop took place at 8:30 a.m., with its path starting at Harder Stadium and making its way throughout campus before concluding at the starting destination. The run also included alternative race options, such as the Elite Rehab 5K walk/run, the Kids Dash and the Gaucho Challenge, a more interactive run similar to the reality television game show “The Amazing Race,” with free food and prizes.

The Gaucho Challenge, which took place an hour later, at 9:30 a.m., pitted teams of up to four against each other to navigate past five challenges as fast as possible. The races were not restricted to alumni, and many active local residents came out on Saturday to participate. All race proceeds were put toward the UCSB Alumni Association Scholarship Fund.

Other events on Saturday included Taste of UCSB, a food and music event presented by Montecito Bank & Trust, held between the Chemistry and Physical Sciences Buildings. According to event information posted by the UCSB Alumni Association, Taste of UCSB featured over three dozen chefs, brewers, caterers and winemakers, many of whom were also UCSB alumni. Live music, a photo booth and a silent auction to generate funds for student scholarships were also present at the event.

Kelly Singsank, a class of ’13 alumna, said Taste of UCSB was the highlight of her weekend in Santa Barbara.

“Because it was my first alumni weekend, I didn’t know what to expect, but it exceeded all of my expectations,” Singsank said. “It was a great excuse to come back and enjoy everything I love about Santa Barbara — from the weather, to the food, the beautiful campus and the great people.”

This year’s reunion weekend also saw celebratory events from eight different UCSB departments for landmark anniversaries. These anniversaries included those of the mechanical engineering, theater and dance, religious studies and sociology departments, all of which reached a 50-year mark.

Finally, on Sunday, featured events included an Arts & Lectures-sponsored lecture by Robert Ballard, a class of ’65 alumnus, who discussed his adventures and discoveries from deep-ocean explorations. His keynote speech was held as part of UCSB’s National Geographic Live Series.

As an all-Greek section of the reunion weekend, GreekFest continued throughout the weekend with its own set of activities. The Mosher Alumni House hosted the Greek and Friends Brunch on Sunday. At the event, former fraternity and sorority members, some of whom were chapter presidents, reflected on time they spent as part of UCSB’s Greek community. Bill Yankie, a class of ’74 alumnus, said he felt excited to rekindle old friendships and discuss future plans with the friends and acquaintances he had made in the Greek system.

“The Greek and Friends Brunch is a great opportunity for me to see fraternity brothers I have not seen in years,” Yankie said. “A lot of us discussed retirement this weekend and the possibility of us all coming back to Santa Barbara when we do decide to retire.”


This is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.