UC Santa Cruz Division of Undergraduate Education appoints Soraya Murray as new Provost of Porter College

Soraya Murray, a faculty member of Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz since 2010, has focused her research on visual culture, contemporary art, film, and video games.

The Division of Undergraduate Education at UC Santa Cruz is pleased to announce the appointment of Soraya Murray as the new Provost of Porter College, effective July 1, 2024. Murray, an esteemed interdisciplinary scholar with a passion for mentorship, will bring a unique perspective to her new role.

"As a talented and collaborative leader, Soraya will serve as a champion for the Porter College community," said Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education and Global Engagement Richard Hughey. "She is someone who will put our students first, individually and collectively, and will help them build meaningful connections to thrive as undergraduates and beyond."

Murray, a faculty member in the Film and Digital Media Department at UC Santa Cruz since 2010, has focused her research on visual culture, contemporary art, film, and video games. Her extensive portfolio includes numerous published essays and writings anthologized nationally and internationally. Murray authored On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space (I.B. Tauris, 2018) and is currently co-editing an anthology on antiracist futures in games and play. She is also writing a book on anxiety films about technology from the 1970s to the present.

As an accomplished educator, Murray brings a depth of experience to the role and a commitment to supporting students' academic journeys.

“As an undergraduate, I had mentors who became beacons of achievement,” said Murray. “These were professors and administrators whom I greatly admired and who inspired me to strive. I am most excited about being that mentor now and pointing the way for the next generation.”

Murray's vision for Porter College centers on enhancing students' sense of community, belonging, and activation. She aims to empower all students to navigate the academic landscape with confidence and develop skills that are directly applicable to their future professions.

“Porter’s vision centers on the arts, but really, it is all about the essential value of creative inquiry as a key tool for building a better life and a more equitable future,” Murray stated. “The larger goals for me are about readying students for professions of their choosing, helping them to face the challenges that will surely come with dignity, and challenging them to be capable and morally courageous in their ideas. This is in keeping with the ethos of Porter: Learn how to learn. Learn by doing. Let your learning make a difference.”

Porter College, founded in 1969, has a mission to foster achievement in all areas of study, with a special dedication to achievement in the arts.

Murray will succeed Sean Keilen, who has provided invaluable leadership at Porter College for the last decade and will continue in his position as Chair of the Council of Provosts and Professor of Literature.

In accepting her new role, Murray acknowledged the strong foundation laid by Sean Keilen and other college staff and faculty, stating, “Porter College has established an esteemed reputation, and I hope to build on the already strong efforts and innovations of those who came before me. I am honored to be a steward of the college and take that responsibility very seriously."

Please join us in welcoming Soraya Murray to her new role as Provost of Porter College at UC Santa Cruz.


About Porter College

Porter College was founded in 1969 as the fifth of UC Santa Cruz’s residential colleges and was later renamed in honor of a generous grant from the Porter-Sesnon family. Its mission is to foster achievement in all areas of study. Porter is especially dedicated to achievement in the arts, believing that creative inquiry is an essential part of a rigorous and broad-minded education, a flourishing society, and a happy life.

The Porter College curriculum encourages students to explore unusual topics and provocative ideas, to test and revise hypotheses about the meaning of their experiences, to learn from the failures that are an inevitable part of new learning and discovery, and to assume responsibility for the decisions they make in their studies. In addition to Core courses for first-year students, which provide rigorous training in critical reading and writing and study skills, Porter offers a variety of smaller interdisciplinary seminars that combine historical and theoretical approaches to the arts, humanities, and sciences with practical experience conducting scholarly research and making creative work.

Porter College fellows hail from every academic division on campus and from many non-academic professions, but all of them share the philosophy of education that the College’s curriculum embodies: first, discover how to learn; then, learn by doing; and finally, let your learning make a difference in the world. 

More info can be found at https://porter.ucsc.edu.

About Soraya Murray

Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar of contemporary visual culture, with particular interest in art, film, digital media and video games. Murray holds a Ph.D. in art history and visual studies from Cornell University, and an MFA in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine. She is an Associate Professor in the Film + Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her writings may be found in journals in the areas of contemporary art, film and digital culture, including venues such as Art JournalNka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Public Art ReviewThird TextOpen Library of HumanitiesPAJ: A Journal of Performance and ArtFeminist Media Histories, The Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, the European Journal of American Studies, Film Quarterly and Critical Inquiry.

Her essays are anthologized nationally and internationally, including most recently, Ecogames: Playful Perspectives on the Climate Crisis (Amsterdam University Press, 2024) Video Games and Spatiality in American Studies (Berlin: De Gruyter, March 2022), Urteilen und Werten: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf Narrative Axiologien (Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2022), Visual Culture Approaches to the Selfie (Routledge, 2021), Stronger Than Bone (Gwangju / Archive Books, 2021), The Cambridge Companion to Nineteen Eighty-Four (Cambridge U. Press, 2020), How to Play Video Games NYU Press, 2019); and Through the Black Mirror: Deconstructing the Side Effects of the Digital Age (Palgrave, 2019). Murray joined the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies editorial board, and is a member of the critical/historical game studies journal ROMchip’s editorial group.

Murray’s book, On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space (I.B. Tauris, 2018, paperback Bloomsbury 2021), considers video games from a visual culture perspective, and how they both mirror and are constitutive of larger societal fears, dreams, hopes and even complex struggles for recognition. Murray is currently co-editing an anthology with media and games scholar TreaAndrea Russworm on antiracist futures in games and play. She is also writing a book on technology and the social imaginary within American technothriller films from the 1970s to the present, called Technothriller

More info can be found on www.sorayamurray.com