Royce Hall was the canvas for a spectacle of light and sound Saturday night, with images and video that highlighted many of the people, moments and memories that have shaped UCLA since its founding 100 years ago.
“Lighting the Way,” a 10-minute projection show, was the final event of a packed day of activities that kicked off the yearlong celebration of UCLA’s centennial. The program was held in the heart of the campus, with several thousand attendees blanketing the lawn surrounded by Royce, Powell Library, Kaplan Hall and Haines Hall, the campus’s first four buildings.
The show was designed to represent a bright candle lighting the darkness, a celebratory illumination and shared moment imbued with the spirit of service and learning that animates UCLA’s ongoing role as a leader and innovator.
It highlighted dozens of accomplished and influential alumni, professors, administrators and coaches, spanning 10 decades of UCLA’s history. Among those featured were Nobel Prize winners including professor emeritus Lloyd Shapley and alumnus Randy Schekman; pioneering technologists Martine Rothblatt and Vint Cerf; groundbreaking faculty members Brenda Stevenson, Casey Reas, Leonard Kleinrock and Andrea Ghez; legendary coaches Valorie Kondos Field and John Wooden; star student-athletes past and present, including Dave Roberts and Katelyn Ohashi; and U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
Ominous clouds and a near-constant drizzling of rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the blue-and-gold clad crowd. Alumni and their families mingled with hundreds of current students, staff and faculty, enjoying mini cupcakes, posing for selfies and purchasing centennial-themed UCLA gear, including a limited-edition glow-in-the dark T-shirt. Members of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band entertained and the UCLA Spirit Squad led an enthusiastic eight-clap.
The show began with an acknowledgement of the Tongva people, the original inhabitants and caretakers of the Los Angeles basin. ESPN anchor and UCLA alumna Cari Champion narrated the video, which also included audio of prominent faculty, alumni and students.
Among them was history professor Brenda Stevenson, who provided a charge for the entire UCLA community: “We have such a wonderful diversity here on this campus and in the nation. But that diversity will melt into a chaos if we cannot continue to provide a pathway forward.”
Dramatic explosions of design and color turned the stone face of Royce Hall into a vibrating source of light and animation, and the show ended with a call to action: “How will you light the way?”
Earlier in the day, thousands of passionate Bruin alumni returned to campus for thought-provoking presentations, panel discussions, tours, art-making activities and performances as part of UCLA Alumni Day. And about 1,800 guests were treated to a special centennial edition of the annual TEDxUCLA conference in Royce Hall, with UCLA and guest speakers reflecting on the theme of time.
UCLA will continue the celebration on Wednesday, May 22, honoring its downtown roots with a party in Grand Park. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the downtown celebration will feature music from KCRW DJs, a performance by the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, an appearance by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the lighting of City Hall in UCLA’s blue and gold colors. Other structures around the city will also be illuminated in UCLA’s colors, including the Wilshire Grand, L.A. Live, the Grand Park fountains and the Los Angeles International Airport pylons.
More events throughout the year will invite the community to help mark the centennial, including an expanded UCLA presence at the LA Pride Parade on June 9, a free concert by cumbia group La Sonora Dinamita at Levitt Pavilion on August 31, an expansion of UCLA Volunteer Day to 100 city locations on September 28, a partnership with the October 6 CicLAvia open streets event, a fall quarter lecture course open to the public, and more.
Amid the many celebratory moments, UCLA also will embark on a series of initiatives designed to bring teachers, community leaders, artists and activists, and the public at large, into closer dialogue with the institution.
UCLA students got a sneak preview of Lighting the Way on May 17, after Spring Sing, the campus’s annual student-run song, dance and comedy showcase.