Announcing Teenie Matlock as special adviser to the chancellor for Indigenous matters

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

I am excited to announce that Teenie Matlock, most recently Vice Provost for Academic Personnel at UC Merced, has officially joined UC Santa Cruz as Special Adviser to the Chancellor on Indigenous Relations.

Matlock, Professor of Cognitive Science and McClatchy Chair in Communications at UC Merced, is a wonderful addition to our campus community. She is of Southern Sierra Miwuk lineage and is an active member of the American Indian Council of Mariposa County, having served as former Vice Chair of the group. She is engaged throughout the UC system in promoting inclusivity. She also knows our campus well, having earned her PhD in psychology at UC Santa Cruz. In her role as special adviser, Matlock will be providing leadership and consultation on various matters and providing support to Native initiatives and opportunities. 

Matlock was part of the first faculty cohort at UC Merced, starting in 2004, where she led the efforts to create the Cognitive and Information Sciences department. Before joining Merced, Matlock was a postdoc and research associate at Stanford University, at which time she was also a lecturer at UC Berkeley. A respected scholar, her research focuses on the psychology of everyday language. She has awards for leadership, mentoring, teaching, and research, and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles that span cognitive science, psychology, linguistics, climate communication, and human-computer interaction. She served on the National Institute of Health’s Language and Communication Study Section for six years. 

Matlock’s advisory role is similar to the one held by Jacob Martinez, a 2004 Oakes alumnus and founder of the technology workforce development hub Digital NEST, a nonprofit based in Watsonville. His insights on student empowerment, community engagement, digital innovation and social entrepreneurship have been helpful in our efforts to advance racial equity in higher education opportunities and attainment, while also disrupting existing institutional barriers to equity.

The University of California is a national leader in efforts to expand student diversity. Last spring UC President Michael Drake launched the UC Native American Opportunity Plan, ensuring UC tuition and student fees are fully covered for Californians who are members of federally recognized Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native tribes.

The UC Santa Cruz American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) is marking the start of its third decade this year. The center was established in 2003 to play a leadership role in creating and maintaining a positive climate for American Indian students, staff and faculty. It does so by hosting a number of campus events including IndigeFest, a pan-tribal show of fellowship and empowerment that celebrates Native American dance, song and culture, and Indigethanx, AIRC’s alternative Thanksgiving celebration. The center also hosts the Amah Mutsun Speaker Series to raise awareness about the issues that impact Native Americans and California Natives in particular. 

Over the years, our campus has been able to recruit an extraordinary cohort of Indigenous faculty. While small in number, they have had an outsized impact on our campus through their mentorship and research. Our campus has also benefited from its relationship with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, who have partnered with UCSC on many projects and programs. 

I am deeply proud of the work we have done in recent years to advance diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus. We have worked with intention and focus, hiring our inaugural Vice Chancellor for DEI, realigning the work of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to focus on climate issues, and relaunching the campus Ombuds Office. We’ve committed to hire 100 additional faculty over the next decade, giving us an unprecedented chance to further diversify our faculty. We are laying the foundation for a bright future for our campus, and I believe Matlock’s work will help make us even stronger.