Faculty Director of Honors Announcemnt

June 01, 2021

The Division of Undergraduate Education is pleased to announce the appointment of Amanda M. Smith, as Faculty Director of the Undergraduate Honors Programs, effective July 1, 2021.

The Faculty Director of Honors serves as the academic leadership for the College Scholars Program, working closely with the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education (VPDUE), College Provosts, the Office of Campus Advising Coordination, and faculty to provide a robust, cohort-based first-year experience for diverse cohorts of highly engaged students. The 2021-22 fall cohort is expected to include about 100 students at Cowell College, Crown College, Merrill College, and Porter College, with the spring 2022 cohort adding another 100 or more students from all colleges on campus. The Faculty Director advances and promotes high-impact educational experiences at all levels of the institution, preparing students to take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities early in their careers.

Amanda Smith (PhD, Johns Hopkins University, 2015) is an assistant professor of Latin American literature at UC Santa Cruz, where she teaches and conducts research on 20th- and 21st-century Latin American literatures and cultures. She is also a 2003 graduate of the Michigan State University undergraduate honors program. She works across the environmental humanities, the spatial humanities, and Indigenous studies to examine the impacts of ideological and epistemological confrontations—between Western cartography and Indigenous counter-mapping, spiritual tourism and extractivism, interculturality and bioprospecting, neocolonialism and literary regionalism, and US empire and coloniality in Latin American and Latinx contexts. Her book, Mapping the Amazon: Literary Geography after the Rubber Boom came out May 1 this year (Liverpool University Press).

A recipient of UC Santa Cruz’s Excellence in Teaching Award 2019–20, Smith joined UC Santa Cruz in 2015. She was drawn to the university because of its culture and history of social justice and academic freedom. Here is how one of her student’s described her teaching:

Professor Smith’s pedagogy is rigorous and equity centered, and it honors her students’ humanity and our need to develop professionally. She demonstrates her passion for the subject at every turn, provides multiple opportunities for us to develop professionally while engaging with the subject matter meaningfully, fosters a warm and collaborative learning community in the classroom, and conducts the course with a flexibility that honors students’ lived experience and the material reality of this quarter. Her class provided the type of grounding and community that we needed to be able to continue learning and growing in community as scholars through a very difficult quarter, and her support for her students is beautiful and unwavering. I learned so much from her as a teacher, a scholar, and a human being.

About her new appointment, Smith says, “As educators at a leading university for social mobility, we must provide opportunities for all of our students to see themselves as creators and producers of knowledge, as valuable members of a larger community, with important contributions to make. I was drawn to the Faculty Director position because I want to be a part of designing impactful programming that inspires students hungry for deep inquiry as well as those who might not yet see themselves as researchers. I am excited to work with the College Provosts and program faculty to build on the program’s strengths.

Smith will focus on growing our campus’ honors experiences, while ensuring that students from a diversity of backgrounds are applying, joining, and being served by those experiences. Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education (VPDUE) Richard Hughey noted that “Professor Smith embodies our campus commitment to diversity, access, and excellence, in her award-winning teaching, her research, and now her vision of honors and scholarship within our college learning communities and across campus.

Smith replaces Professor of Statistics David Draper, who served as Faculty Director of Honors since 2018.  Please join VPDUE Hughey in thanking David for his significant contributions to the undergraduate honors program, and his leadership within this important campus program during a very difficult period.