The Hutchins Years

Professor MaryLu Mattson taught in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University from 1970 until her retirement in 1992.   One of the original faculty members hired to help create the new School’s interdisciplinary curriculum, Dr. Mattson brought a wide-ranging background including a B.S. degree in bacteriology and chemistry from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, an M.A. in English from UCLA and a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Southern California, as well as teaching experience at California State College, Los Angeles.

At Sonoma State Dr. Mattson quickly established herself as a trusted faculty leader, serving in the Academic Senate, as Campus Coordinator of Computer Assisted Instruction, a member of the Vice President’s Council, as elected Chair of the Division of Cluster Schools and as Provost of the Hutchins School.  Academically, having published an important book on the subject, ” Help Yourself: A guide to the Writing and Rewriting of College Papers,” she contributed special expertise in teaching expository and creative writing across the Hutchins curriculum.  Drawing on her background in both the sciences and humanities, she led in the design and teaching of broad, team-taught undergraduate courses as well as upper division seminars in her areas of special interest including “Censorship in the Arts,” “Masterpieces of the Humanities” and “The Irrational in the Western Tradition.”

A skilled seminar leader, Professor Mattson modeled intellectual curiosity and openness to new ideas and pedagogical approaches with a strong critical sensibility and an absolute commitment to high standards and effective student learning.

Sara Vurek, a former student, described herself as feeling “blessed to be among the fortunate lives she touched and enriched.”  Colleagues, as well, recognized her both for her dedication to teaching and for her ability to work collaboratively in creating a nationally-recognized model of liberal learning.  Describing Lu Mattson as “a wonderful colleague, and a person of great depth and kindness,” Dr. Michael Coleman added that that “I am happy and honored to have worked with her for 18 years.”

After her retirement, Dr. Mattson continued researching and writing, culminating most recently in the publication of what she described as a creative “literary non-fiction” study of California’s last Indian War:  “Shaman’s Dream: The Modoc War.”

Les Adler, Emeritus Professor, Hutchins School


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