The Catalyst as we know it became a feature of the UC Santa Barbara arts landscape in 1996. Editor-in-Chief and graduate of the class of 1996, Matt Kline, along with many friends from across campus, wanted a creative outlet for their work beyond the strictly academic. The first issue (pictured) featured an interview with Chancellor Henry T. Yang, who praised the work of the Catalyst crew: “Creating new organizations to help tap into the talent and gifts of our most resourceful students is important. It is especially important to help reach our students as individuals, to give them an opportunity to uniquely express themselves in a meaningful and provocative way. … Catalyst is something new.”
After a hiatus of some years, The Catalyst was born again under the stewardship of Natalie O’Brien and the mentorship of English professor Candace Waid. The magazine was supported by funding from the John Arnhold program through the UCSB English Department, and it survives through the continuing support from the English Department; sponsors David Elliot Cohen, Laureen Seeger, John and Jody Arnhold, and Matt and Ashley Kline; and the Dean’s Office of the Division of Fine Arts and Humanities.
The first issue of the revamped magazine was printed by Haagen Printing/Typecraft in Santa Barbara and appeared in Winter Quarter 2014 (pictured). It featured the following letter from Editor-in-Chief Natalie O’Brien:
In early April of 2013, I inherited an idea and the title of a literary magazine that had not been seen since 2007.
Cat·a·lyst (kăt ́l-ĭst): an agent that stimulates a reaction, development or change.
This project accelerates the process of communication between multiple artforms in a chain of reaction. The Catalyst represents the many inspired individuals here at UCSB as a place to share in the wealth of this dialogue.
Collaborative, interdisciplinary, and open to everyone, The Catalyst grew out of the English Department from a memory to a movement. This magazine is made by and for you: the writers, artists, readers, and those who value the Arts. To all who perpetuate the message this magazine has to give, thank you. To all who attended meetings with patience as we got our sea legs in this beach town, thank you. To everyone who sent in a submission, thank you for joining this creative movement.
Please continue to write and create. We look forward to seeing more. While we grow as a community by becoming increasingly interconnected through collaboration, so will this magazine.
Students from various disciplines built this project from the ground up and these same students make it thrive. The power of our voice is profound, fueled with the tireless enthusiasm we as students possess as we make our way toward our future. We saw what was needed, took the idea and brought it to new life. Positive initiative made these changes happen. The work of authors and artists published here speaks for itself.
I hope after reading our first issue, you will be inspired and proud of your fellow students. Treasure this, remember your experiences here at UCSB, and know that we are the catalyst in our environment. What changes do you want to make?
The Catalyst is committed to this ideal, and subsequent editorial teams and faculty members who support and continue this work are and will always be extremely grateful to the people who made this magazine a possibility.