UC Santa Cruz names Katharyne Mitchell new dean of Social Sciences Division

Geographer specializes in transnational migration, refugees, and asylum policy

Photo of Katharyne Mitchell
Katharyne Mitchell

UC Santa Cruz has appointed Katharyne Mitchell as dean of the Division of Social Sciences, effective August 15.

Mitchell comes to the campus from the University of Washington, where she has been on the faculty in the Department of Geography since 1993. She served as chair of the department from 2008-13 and was the Simpson Professor in the Public Humanities for three years beginning in 2004.

An active scholar and the author of numerous books and nearly 90 journal articles and chapters, Mitchell is an urban political geographer who studies transnational migration, refugees and asylum policy, immigrant integration, citizenship, and education. She has received numerous prestigious fellowships, including a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship to support fieldwork on faith-based movements and the provision of church sanctuary to migrants in Europe.

In addition, Mitchell has been an adjunct professor of gender, women, and sexuality studies at UW since 1993, and was the director of Canadian Studies from 1998-1999.

"Katharyne Mitchell will bring energy, insight, and experience to the Social Sciences Division," said Marlene Tromp, campus provost and executive vice chancellor of UC Santa Cruz. "I have been impressed by her deep commitment to social justice and the power of higher education to help deliver it. UC Santa Cruz is known for its commitment to equity and environmental sustainability, and Social Sciences is leading the way."

Mitchell said she was drawn to UC Santa Cruz by the campus's "long history of excellent scholarship and engagement that makes a difference in the world."

"UC Santa Cruz has always been concerned with the big questions of the day from climate change and financial management to the cognitive development of children, all drawn together around issues of equity, power and access," she said.

"This is a critical moment—a transformational moment that presents opportunities as well as challenges," said Mitchell. "I look forward to being a leader at UC Santa Cruz at this political juncture. It is important for the state and the country—now more than ever—that people step forward."

Mitchell's books include the forthcoming "Making Workers: Radical Geographies of Education"; Practising Public Scholarship: Experiences and Possibilities Beyond the Academy; and Crossing the NeoLiberal Line: Pacific Rim Migration and the Metropolis. She is coeditor with R. Jones and J. Fluri of the forthcoming "Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration," and was coeditor with S. Marston and C. Katz of Life's Work: Geographies of Social Reproduction.

Mitchell will join the faculty as a professor of sociology. She succeeds Sheldon Kamieniecki, who retired in June after 11 years as dean.

Mitchell earned her B.A. in art and archaeology from Princeton University and her Ph.D. in geography from UC Berkeley.

Mitchell is married to Matthew Sparke, a professor of geography at UW who will be joining UC Santa Cruz as a professor of politics; they have two adult children.

The Division of Social Sciences is the largest academic division at UC Santa Cruz, with eight academic departments (Anthropology, Economics, Education Environmental Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology), two residential undergraduate colleges, eight Ph.D. programs, and 25 undergraduate degree programs. The division confers more than 45 percent of the bachelors degrees and 30 percent of the doctorates awarded annually.