College Provost Matt O'Hara

Matt O'Hara

Provost  Matt O’Hara is a professor in the Department of History, where he is currently chair. He also served as the campus Faculty Director of Undergraduate Honors from 2014-2019. He joined UC Santa Cruz in 2006.

O’Hara’s vision for Stevenson College is to maintain and bolster its unique two-quarter core course, “Self and Society,” to help its students gain practical research experience and explore internship opportunities, and to encourage Stevenson students to develop intellectual interests across a range of academic fields.

Grounded in archival documents, O’Hara’s research investigates the relationship between individual agency and structural forces, especially the cultures of knowledge surrounding religion and science. O’Hara’s previous books delved into early Mexican political culture, religion, and the history of time. These publications included the book A Flock Divided: Race, Religion and Politics in Mexico (Duke University Press, 2010). He recently published The History of the Future in Colonial Mexico (Yale University Press, 2018), which examined how early modern science and religion shaped the human experience of time.

His current research unearths a twentieth-century history of exploration, botany, and pharmaceutical development. Reconstructing events that moved from jungle laboratories in the Amazon to coerced medical experimentation in the United States, this transnational history draws on archives scattered across the United States, Peru, and Ecuador.

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What is a Provost?

The Provost is the chief academic officer of the college, who, in conjunction with the faculty, is responsible for all academic programs and courses, advising, academic standing, and academic honors and awards. The Provost sponsors numerous academic and cultural programs and courses throughout the year, as well as faculty and student projects.

The College System at UC Santa Cruz

There are ten colleges, each with a different thematic focus to the First Year Seminar. The College serves as an academic community that gives substance to students’ academic and university experience during a student’s time at UCSC.  The college also houses student’s academic records.

Stevenson College

Adlai E. Stevenson is the second oldest college (founded in 1966). The Stevenson College Core Course is intended to provide intellectual and research preparation for students’ future academic endeavors. The course addresses the college’s intellectual and pedagogical aims through a holistic inquiry into academic research through the exploration of the relationship between "self and society". In addition, the course has an intellectual commitment to the general philosophy which has helped to define Stevenson College since its inception (articulated in the idea of the preservation of human dignity, the social cultivation of individual creativity and citizenship, and a belief in ethical responsibility). The course reflects the college’s long-standing commitment to interdisciplinary and culturally diverse readings while at the same time it affords students an opportunity to develop research interests, acquire greater understanding of the role of research universities in contemporary societies, and to acquire the requisite skills to engage in increasingly more sophisticated intellectual work while at UCSC.  Over the academic year students read a diverse range of texts, many of which they may read in future courses; meet in small seminars two/three times a week to share and debate their reactions to the texts; and of course learn to articulate their views in writing and other forms of communication.