Ben Leeds Carson, Kresge College Provost

25 Mar 2015

The Division of Undergraduate Education is pleased to announce the appointment of Ben Leeds Carson as Kresge College Provost effective July 1, 2015.

Associate Professor Carson joined the Music Department at UC Santa Cruz in 2003 as a composer and musicologist. He teaches courses in the history of popular culture, music theory, and the psychology of perception in the arts. Carson serves on the Board of the Santa Cruz Faculty Association, has served on the Committee for Educational Policy, and has taken leadership roles in curriculum development in the Arts Division; he received a 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award. His diverse research is characterized by a passion for transdisciplinary thinking: ranging from empirical studies of rhythm perception that use metaphors of gravitational attraction in physics, to theories of musical completeness, or wholeness, that borrow from psychoanalysis and feminist theory. Carson’s work as a composer often touches on themes of popular culture and identity, and has been featured at numerous international festivals of experimental music.

Carson is known to many students on campus as the instructor of “Popular Music In America,” a course listed now in Music and formerly in American Studies. In it, students learn to interpret musical experiences as contexts for the comprehension of civil rights, cultural identity, diaspora, and capital in U.S. history. Carson hopes to lend his teaching experience, both at UC Santa Cruz and previously at UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College, to help lead Kresge’s vital core course, “Power and Representation,” developing it to meet the contemporary values and concerns of Kresge’s evolving student body.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Richard Hughey was impressed with Professor Carson’s detailed familiarity with the College’s academic and cultural history, and his commitment to our colleges not only preparing students for disciplinary studies but also providing students with opportunities to learn and grow within an intentional community of students, staff, and faculty.

VPDUE Hughey is deeply grateful for Interim Kresge Provost Kathy Foley’s careful stewardship of Kresge and its students, staff, and faculty, during the 2014-2015 year. Foley, past provost of Kresge’s sister-college Porter, is looking forward to working with incoming provost Carson as Kresge prepares for the Fall 2015 class.

As Kresge Provost, Carson hopes to draw on collaborative energies already vital to Kresge’s community, in order to raise the college’s profile as a powerful space for living and learning. In a forum for Kresge faculty earlier this quarter, Carson noted that “Kresge was built on principles of participatory decision making, and on what its founders called an ‘interdisciplinary, ecological approach to learning.’ Our most important challenge now might be how to maintain and energize that founding vision under the conditions UC Santa Cruz faces today: stretched teaching budgets, rising tuition costs, and an increasingly standards-based academic culture.”

Dr. Carson is excited to begin work meeting these challenges in collaboration with Kresge’s Parliament, its four Student Cooperatives, the Kresge Multicultural Education Committee (KMEC), the Common Ground Center, Services for Transfer and Re-entry Students (STARS) staff, the Veterans Education Team Support (VETS) Program, and all members of the Kresge community.