Anniversary Celebration of Geography Department

On Friday May 28 and Saturday May 29, 2004, the Geography Department held its long-planned 30th Anniversary Celebration. Although UCSB has been offering a Bachelor’s in Geography since 1966, Geography wasn’t an autonomous department until 1974. Both Friday and Saturday, each, had approximately 200 participants.


From 1:00 to 4:00 pm on Friday, three graduate student docents offered tours, 12 graduate students demonstrated projects in the Descartes and Star labs, “Geographers on Film” (interviews with our very own professors Waldo Tobler, Jack Estes, Michael Goodchild, and Reginald Golledge) ran in a classroom, and 13 project posters were displayed (which involved the work of 35 people — faculty, grad students, and undergrads). Refreshments lined the hallway – Ellison, third floor, North – where most of the activity was centered. Guests milled and moved from place to place. Included were 22 visitors from the Faculty Women’s Club of UCSB. The Women’s Club only does one tour per year, and they chose our open house. We were honored!

From 4:00 to 5:00 pm, we heard a brief recounting of Department history from Chair Keith Clarke, were regaled by Chancellor Henry Yang’s glowing words about the Department, and watched demonstrations of two 3-dimensional software programs. One of the 3-D programs was presented by Mike Goodchild. Accompanied by music, the show zoomed from outer space into the very buildings on campus, then around the world to various chosen sites, from Yosemite to Baghdad. The other 3-D program was prepared by Prof. Sara Fabrikant, staff Chuck Anderson, and graduate student Jeff Hemphill, all three of whom poured a lot of time and effort into creating the demo. Fabrikant coordinated the whole thing. Chuck Anderson, staff in Geology, presented the GeoWall demo. We needed polarizing glasses to see the 3-D effects in most of the GeoWall images. All of the glasses were used, thus we know there were at least 116 guests for the hour in the Buchanan lecture hall. After the talks and 3-D shows, we were treated to a catered reception in the Ellison Quad, where the designated spot for the time capsule burial was displayed.


Early Saturday morning, Mo Lovegreen, Connie Padilla, Nancy Ponce, Michelle Keuper, Yvette Decierdo, and several graduate student volunteers arrived at the Sedgwick Reserve to set up for the day’s Big Party. There was a registration/welcoming table, a wine tasting booth, snow-cone machine, children’s activities area (chalk art, nature printing on t-shirts, and water play), food-serving tables, and, of course, the banquet tables — 26 6-footers, replete with tablecloths, salsa and chips, and flowers. Rick Skillin, the Reserve Steward, pounded in stakes and stapled on the signs Susanna Baumgart had prepared. Billy and Sue Ruiz of Cowboy Caterin’ arrived, with crew, and set up the barbecue trailer. The weather couldn’t have been nicer: blue skies, warm, breezy — not the wilting heat that just a few weeks ago edged toward triple digits. Volunteer Sedgwick Reserve docents and guests began arriving shortly before 11 am.

Because the number of guests at this time was still small enough, the first docent-led hike was able to use the two University vans to transport the group to the Blue Schist Trail. It begins a couple miles from the ranch compound. Along the Little Pine Fault, the trail has lovely trees and interesting rocks. Although scheduled for only an hour, the hike lasted for nearly two hours. The second docent-led hike, which embarked while the Blue Schist group was still out, was a lot shorter and gentler. Guests walked along dirt roadways, up a hill, and returned to the ranch compound, hearing from the docent about the area’s natural history.

As soon as the vehicles returned from the Blue Schist Trail, guests piled into the two vans for graduate student Ryan Perroy’s “Down and Dirty with Sedgwick Soils” tour. The caravan drove to a place on the southern part of the Reserve that was, apparently, the only “permanent” dwelling place of the Chumash on the ranch. Parking the vans, the group followed Perroy, on foot, to his soil study area. He pointed out the light and dark soil layers. Squeezing a few drops of hydrochloric acid from a bottle, Perroy showed, by the blubbling, that the soil contained calcium carbonate. The soil stratigraphy and composition seemed to indicate the area had earlier been a wetland.

Perroy’s rectangular, approximately 2-1/2-foot deep soil pit was just across a wash from where a UCSB Archaeology class was wrapping up field studies for the school year. Perroy walked the tour group to the archaeological dig. As prearranged, Michael Jochim, the archaeology Professor in charge of the dig, shared what he and his researchers had learned from this site. Michael passed around some artifacts they’d found, which included part of a grinding bowl, beads, and bone fragments.

While some partiers were out on field trips, others stayed at the ranch compound. Michael Williams, the Reserve Manager, led a tour of Duke Sedgwick’s main house. Children printed leaves with paint on t-shirts. Guests tasted wines from local wineries. (Hosted by Robin Johnson, Dylan Prentiss, and Becky Powell, the wine tasting booth was a crowded and popular spot!) Some just munched chips, chatted, and listened to music. A trio named Night Train sang and played a wide variety of tunes.

Afternoon winds are common on the Sedgwick Ranch, and this day they gusted powerfully. The registration canopies blew over. One canopy was was removed; the other was secured akimbo. The strong winds played with the barbecue, blasting smoke and shifting the heat, and the caterers were challenged to control the temperature that was cooking the hunks of top sirloin on the grill. The end result was delicious, however. When served, over 200 people lined up for the “gourmet grub.”

Yes, there were 200 Geographers plus six docents, the Reserve Steward, and the Reserve Manager. Among the attendees, there were 37 children (12 years old and younger) and 155 adults, 27 of whom were alumni. A special guest was included at the last minute: Kevin Simonett, the son of the founding Chair of the Department, David Simonett. Kevin Simonett had been surfing the Internet the week before the anniversary party and had discovered the Geography web pages that talked about his father. He just happened to phone the Department and, of course, we were delighted to invite him and have him actually come!

After dinner, graduate student Doug Fischer led a tour up Lisque Canyon to talk about the plant communities of the Sedgwick. Guests piled into the two vans, getting out three times for chats about the oak communities, lace lichens, native and introduced grasses, and the special plants on the Fransciscan Formation up by the Little Pine Fault. Meanwhile, “back at the ranch,” some played softball and others cleaned up and packed away supplies and furniture. When it came time to retrieve the signs, Susanna found most of them had disappeared: they probably were nabbed as souvenirs.

Many people commented on how wonderful the Sedgwick party was. Everything ran smoothly, everyone had a good time. Much of the credit for the success goes to the women that have been nicknamed “The Fab Four”: Connie Padilla, Nancy Ponce, Michelle Keuper, and Yvette Decierdo. But as both a staff member and faculty member pointed out, others on staff deserve kudos for continuing to run the Department when the Entertainment Committee was preoccupied with anniversary preparations. And the many unnamed volunteer helpers were essential to the success of this 2-day celebration, too. So sincere thanks to everyone for such a great time!

NOTE: There is a page of photographs of the anniversary celebrations within our [archived] Photo section.

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