There’s a pretty good chance that at least one caller to UCLA late Thursday morning or early afternoon got someone’s voicemail.
That’s because for two hours beginning at 11:30 a.m., several thousand UCLA staff members were eating, relaxing, dancing and celebrating on Dickson Plaza (or in the shade surrounding it) with an extended outdoor lunch break at the 10th annual All-Staff Picnic.
And given how the campus responded to the 20 million gallons of water that flooded campus of two weeks ago, the staff had more than earned it, said Chancellor Gene Block, who co-presented the picnic with UCLA Staff Assembly.
“For a terrible event that caused some damage but took no lives, the recovery of this institution has been extraordinary. Many of you I saw walking around campus working really day and night to make certain that this campus would return to normal as quickly as possible,” said Block, who prior to his brief remarks donned a blue apron and handed out boxed lunches of sandwiches, chips, salad and cookie. “So thank you for all that you do. But thank you especially for what you did this year because this year was above and beyond the call of duty. I really appreciate it.”
Staff Assembly President Rejeana Mathis also thanked the staff from every department for things they do to keep UCLA running every day.
“Thank you for keeping our campus beautiful. Thank you for making parents feel a bit easier about sending their children to us. Thank you for enabling faculty to make new discoveries. Thank you for ensuring our artists and storytellers are seen and heard,” Mathis said. “Today we celebrate all that staff does to ensure UCLA has a positive impact on the world. Please give yourselves a round of applause.”
The annual picnic, which in addition to featuring free food like the highly in-demand ice cream, watermelon and kettle corn, was an occasion to showcase all the programs that Staff Assembly offers. There was a small table set up in front of Royce Hall that had information about a host of professional development programs, as well as health and wellness programs from the Healthy Campus Initiative.
Men’s basketball coach Steve Alford was a surprise guest speaker. He encouraged the Bruin basketball-crazed to watch the team practice and thanked staff for making his job of recruiting the best players a little easier.
“Bringing kids here is one thing,” he said. “You can always put on an act maybe through 48 hours. The special thing about UCLA is when they arrive [as freshmen], they see the same thing.”
A new component added this year was a contest for the most creative "selfies" taken at the picnic. Picnicgoers were encouraged to upload their pics to the Staff Assembly Facebook page, or use Twitter or Instagram and the hashtag #UCLApicnic.
For a quick view, see the UCLA Newsroom 2014 Staff Picnic photo album on Facebook.