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Alan Houston Named
Eleanor Roosevelt College Provost

September 24, 2009

By Pat JaCoby

Photo of Alan Houston
Alan Houston

Alan Houston, a professor of political science and an internationally recognized scholar of early-modern British and American political thought, has been appointed provost of Eleanor Roosevelt College at the University of California, San Diego.

In announcing the appointment, Paul Drake, senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said that Houston’s academic accomplishments at UC San Diego and his commitment to undergraduate education make him exceptionally well qualified to provide leadership as provost of Eleanor Roosevelt College, one of UC San Diego’s six undergraduate colleges.

“Houston has made significant contributions to undergraduate and graduate education,” Drake said. “His service contributions to the department and the University are exceptional.”

Barbara Sawrey, chair of the ERC provost search committee, said “Alan Houston scores the academic version of a hat trick—he is a distinguished scholar, a gifted teacher, and an able administrator. He has thought deeply about undergraduate education and has demonstrated a strong commitment to UC San Diego’s unique college system.”

“I am thrilled by this opportunity,” Houston said. “The foundation for undergraduate education at UC San Diego is provided by the colleges. It is in the colleges that students are introduced to the ideals of the liberal arts and sciences and taught to write at a university level. It is in the colleges that students first develop a sense of community and personal engagement. And it is in the colleges that students are provided the personal and intellectual support needed to thrive as scholars and citizens. We are fortunate that the founders of UCSD understood this, and created a federal system that blends the strengths of small colleges with the resources of a large research university.”

Houston’s prize-winning scholarly work uses archival research to establish new interpretations and advance scholarly methods in liberal, democratic and republican theory. He has written and edited four books, including the recent Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement (2008). Others include A Nation Transformed: England after the Restoration; Franklin: The Autobiography and Other Writings on Politics, Economics and Virtue, and Algernon Sydney and the Republican Heritage in England and America.

Houston has been a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values and Columbia University’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities, and has received fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Office of the President of the University of California.

Houston joined the UC San Diego faculty in 1989; prior to that he taught at Columbia University and Harvard University. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and his master’s and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Houston’s wife, Barbara Edwards, works at CREATE on the UC San Diego campus. She is currently the executive director of Math for America, a consortium of three local universities that works to increase the number and quality of mathematics teachers in public schools. They have two children, Kelsey, 19, and Ben, 15.

“This is undoubtedly a difficult time in the life of the University,” Houston said. “But I can think of no more meaningful challenge, or greater opportunity, than leading Eleanor Roosevelt College through it.”


Media Contact: Pat JaCoby, 858-534-7404 or pjacoby@ucsd.edu

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