This year is UC Davis‘ 100th birthday, so it is only natural that Picnic Day‘s parade marshals represent the ushering in of a new century of tradition.
The UC Davis 2009 Picnic Day all-student Board of Directors has announced that this year‘s parade marshals will be Bob Black and Gabriella Wong, a former and current UC Davis student.
Picnic Day itself traditionally begins with the Picnic Day Parade, led by the parade marshals, both who have greatly impacted the school and the community itself.
Bob Black graduated from UC Davis in 1973. As a student, he was the ASUCD president from 1966 to 1967. During his presidency, Black played a critical role in the establishment of ASUCD units such as the Coffee House, the ASUCD-City of Davis Unitrans Bus system and the Experimental College. Each of these units have become an integral part of UC Davis and without his involvement, it would not be in existence today.
“Each of the programs, like Unitrans, that is sometimes credited to me was the product of many individual contributions,“ said Bob Black in an e-mail. “I am proud that I listened well, gathered ideas and wasn‘t afraid to put the ideas on the table in their early form.“
If you have been reading carefully, you might have realized that Black‘s graduation date and his year in office as president would have made him a super-seventh-year-senior at the very least. But instead, Black dropped out of UC Davis in 1967 before his senior year to work on and off with the anti-war movement.
In 1969, he returned to Davis and opened a health-food store, Natural Food Works. Black eventually served on the Davis City Council in 1972 and was elected Mayor of Davis in 1976.
“Politics was in my blood, ever since my historic campaign to be my fifth-grade class president,“ Black said. “For reasons I can‘t explain clearly, I was given the gift of being able to distill and articulate the thoughts and feelings of my generation and a larger progressive movement [in the 1960‘s and 70‘s].“
After his election onto the city council, Black reenrolled at UC Davis for summer sessions -the first UC Davis student to ever serve on the Davis City council and attend classes.
Black received his bachelor‘s degree 1973, and got a law degree from UC Davis in 1976. He practiced law in Davis for the next 22 years, representing many clients, including ASUCD. By the early 1990s, Black moved to Del Norte County and is currently the city attorney for Crescent City.
Gabriella Wong, a Union City, Calif. native, is a senior sociology major graduating this year. She received the Straus Public Service Scholarship for $10,000. With it, she plans to fund a community organization to support the deaf and hard of hearing community at UC Davis. She also plans to use it to fund transportation and presentation costs of going to various schools in California to recruit deaf and hard of hearing students to apply for admission.
“I wanted to create this organization where deaf and hard of hearing students could socialize and meet with others because academic success is paralleled with social belonging,“ said Wong in an e-mail.
She also plans on establishing a scholarship for outstanding deaf students in the community.
“What truly motivates me to help the deaf and hard of hearing community is having the hope to see the community gain educational equality,“ Wong said.
The Board of directors also chose Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef and Roseanne Mandel of the faculty and staff to be “Distinguished Legacies“ – a new type of honorarium that was added this year.
“The subcommittee [of the Board] wanted to honor those who has a long career of service and dedication to UC Davis but who may not have necessarily attended UC Davis as a student,“ said Monica Lindholm, the 2009 Picnic Day vice-chair, in an e-mail.
The process for choosing the parade marshals begins with the board of directors brainstorming a list of qualities and characteristics that a parade marshal should have. The board then names individuals who they feel are worthy of being a marshal. Nominations can come from the community as well, Lindholm said.
The board of directors felt that this year‘s parade marshals had to have a commitment to service, a substantial impact on UC Davis and the community at large, and represent a diverse cross section of achievements and interests.
“This year, in light of the 100th anniversary of the first arrival of students, the subcommittee wanted to select a past and current student to serve as this year‘s two parade marshals,“ Lindholm said. “For our Distinguished Legacies, we wanted to honor those who had dedicated a long career to UC Davis, were retiring from their current position, and who will leave a lasting impact and legacy.“
After 15 years as Chancellor and 24 years in total at UC Davis, Vanderhoef will be retiring this year. Since he has been chancellor, the university joined the American Association of Universities and has increased its extramural awards from $169.1 million to $586 million a year. The university is now also ranked 10th in research funding among public institutions and has increased private gifts from $40 million to over $200 million a year under his guidance.
Rosanne Mandel is also retiring this year as the assistant director of Student Programs and Activities Center (SPAC). She has also served as the University Advisor to Picnic Day for a number of years.
This is Picnic Day‘s 95th year in existence and serves as the annual Open House for prospective and current students, families, alumni, staff, faculty, and the Davis community. The Board of Directors selected “Reflections: 100 years of Aggie Legacy“ as the theme for this year. Picnic Day is considered a prominent reflection of the university‘s founding, history, growth, achievements and future, according to the UC Davis Picnic Day website. Picnic Day 2009 will be held on Apr. 18.
NICK MARKWITH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.