Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts

The Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts was established in 1995 by a generous endowment from the estate of Mary and Churchill Knapp of La Jolla, California, long-time supporters of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of San Diego. The earnings have helped to support the expenses of distinguished scholars who are appointed by the Dean representing the Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences. The Knapp Chairs contribute to the vitality and centrality of liberal arts in the College by teaching and interacting with students, collaborating with faculty, and presenting public lectures that engage our campus community.

Knapp Chairs give a public lecture during their residency, which is recorded and posted online. Faculty and students may nominate a Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts.

2020-21 Knapp Chairs

 Arts and Humanities

Noam Chomsky, PhD

Laureate Professor in the Department of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Agnese Nelms Haury chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona and institute professor and professor of linguistics and philosophy, emeritus, in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 


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2019-20 Knapp Chairs


Arts and Humanities

Mark Edmundson, PhD

Professor of English, University of Virginia


Arts and Humanities

William Deresiewicz, PhD

Author, essayist and literary critic

2018-19 Knapp Chairs


Social Sciences

Erika Doss, PhD

Professor of American Studies, University of Notre


Arts and Humanities

Melissa Farley, PhD

Founder and Director, Prostitution Research and Education

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Linda Boland, PhD

Associate Professor of Biology, University of Richmond

2017-18 Knapp Chairs


Arts and Humanities

Mario Ramiro, PhD

Professor, Sculpture, Performative Practices and Photography Studies at the Art Department of the School of Art and Communications, University of Sao Paulo


Social Sciences

Linda Tuhiwai Smith, PhD, FRSNZ, CNZM

Pro Vice-Chancellor Maori, Dean of the School of Maori and Pacific Development, and Professor, Education and Maori Development, University of Waikato (Hamilton, New Zealand)


Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Martin Demaine

Erik Demaine, PhD

Martin Demaine is a Robotics Engineer and Visiting Scientist in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Angelika and Barton Weller Artist-in-Residence for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Technical Instructor in the Glass Lab for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2016-17 Knapp Chairs


Social Sciences

Mike Davis, PhD

Distinguished Professor, Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside
Professor Emeritus, History at the University of California, Irvine


Arts and Humanities

Teofilo Ruiz, PhD

Professor, History & Robert and Dorothy Wellman Chair in Medieval History at the University of California, Los Angeles


Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Kimberly Tanner, PhD

Professor, Biology and Director, SEPAL at San Francisco State University