Few administrators would be able to meet a warm reception when they choose to belt out tunes in the hub of student life during the peak of noontime activity.
Not only is Rameen Talesh one of these administrators, but his noontime concert also contributed $1,000 to the University of California’s Promise for Education Campaign.
Initiated in mid-August last year, the Promise for Education challenged students, faculty, celebrities and anyone else to raise donations in exchange for promises they would fulfill. Chancellor Drake raised $10,000 promising a cycling tour of Irvine. In total, $1.3 million was raised with over 1,000 promises and 3,000 contributions.
Approached by colleagues to participate in the campaign, Talesh, Dean of Students, negotiated early suggestions, many of which he didn’t feel comfortable doing, before settling on the idea of leveraging campus enthusiasm during homecoming week to host a noontime concert. Drawing from previous experiences where his vocal talents resonated with students at the All U leadership conference and with Student Affairs staff, Talesh ran with the idea.
“I thought that’d be kinda fun, that’d be kinda crazy,” Talesh said.
Alongside Rameen, Dr. Marcelle Holmes, the associate vice chancellor of wellness, health and counseling, and Tamara Austin, a senior in Student Life & Leadership, provided backup vocals. According to Talesh, Holmes sang in an a capella band in college and volunteered to help while Austin was recruited due to her habit of singing in the office. Craig Martens, a chemistry professor, played bass and Mark Bachman, an electrical engineering and computer science associate professor, played guitar. Mason Sedlik, a junior information and computer science major, also volunteered as a last-minute addition to the band a week before the concert.
Last Tuesday, while barely fitting into his high school track jacket, Talesh took the stage on Student Center terrace and popped and locked alongside B-Boys Anonymous during an opening jam set to Madcon’s “Beggin’.”
Afterwards, he launched into a set list spanning the decades from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1968 cover of “Suzie Q” to OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” Probably unbeknownst to his audience, Talesh’s harmonica during his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on the Reggae Woman” was fake. Guess he didn’t have time to practice it.
Support was strong from the Student Life & Leadership offices as staff held signs that read “Dean Rameen… You’re My Anteater Idol!” As it was in the middle of homecoming activities, the entire court joined Talesh at one point during the concert to join in during Cameo’s “Word Up.”
As he brought it home, so to speak, Talesh donned the #10 basketball jersey his brother wore during his time as backup point guard on UC Irvine’s team. Rapping his own version of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” Talesh adapted the New York anthem to make that claim that if Anteaters could make it at UCI, they can make it anywhere.
UC Irvine’s Dean of Students knows he can wow his audience, especially during the height of school enthusiasm that is homecoming week.