Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts Program

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 from three divisional areas: 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 in confronting humanity’s urgent challenges.

Program Criteria

The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of San Diego invites nominations for Knapp Chairs of Liberal Arts  in

  • Arts & Humanities
  • Natural Sciences & Mathematics
  • Social Sciences

Each Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts will be awarded for either Fall Semester or Spring Semester, to an outstanding teacher-scholar who will spend one to three weeks in residence at the University of San Diego.


  • Nominees who do interdisciplinary work, particularly work that bridges multiple divisional areas within the College or between the College and other academic units at USD, are especially encouraged.
  • Nominees typically will hold a doctorate or equivalent scholarly credentials, preferably at the associate or full professor level, but possession of an advanced degree is not an absolute requirement.
  • Each Knapp Chair is an active participant within the home discipline, across disciplines within a divisional area, and in the College and University in general.
  • Each Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts participates in the teaching of at least one course lecture, delivers one public lecture, leads at least two workshops or seminars for students, and coordinates and works with the Humanities Center staff and student fellows.

Program Details

Knapp Chair benefits include:

  • Stipend of at least $10,000 (with flexibility for length of stay and scope of proposed activities)
  • Housing subsidy
  • Office space within the USD Humanities Center
  • Scholarly materials budget of $2,000 for supplies, books, printing, and hosting activities
  • Stipend for each student who fully participates in the Research Working Group of ups to $250 (total stipends not to exceed $2,000 per RWG)

Research Working Groups

The Research Working Group (RWG) consists of approximately 4-6 faculty members and 4-6 students, with the primary responsibility of hosting the Knapp Chair and organizing activities and events during the visit. RWG faculty are responsible for coordinating logistics, providing intellectual leadership and direction, and advising and mentoring RWG students. RWG students will assist in coordination, read materials associated with the visit, attend visit events, and directly engage with the Knapp Chair.

A minimum proposed level of RWG activity would entail reading at least one shared work (a book, article, creative piece, or similar) by the Knapp Chair, and hosting and attending the proposed activities and events. Greater RWG involvement is preferred, and might include activities like the following:

  • Semester-long independent study (including enrollment in 499 units)
  • Independent or collaborative student/faculty research projects
  • Public research presentations
  • Linking the visit to curriculum (a team-taught course, two or more thematically-related or clustered courses, etc.)

Proposal Criteria

Proposals are selected on the basis of:

  • Opportunities for collaboration with USD students and faculty across multiple disciplines.
  • The quality of their previous creative scholarship and teaching.
  • Their potential to contribute to and benefit from activities across the College and University.
  • Interdisciplinary framing of the proposed Knapp Chair’s work and the central theme(s) of the RWG.
  • Interdisciplinary composition of the RWG, especially across divisions and units.
  • Collaboration at faculty-faculty, faculty-student, and student-student levels.
  • Anticipated and articulated contribution to the Liberal Arts at USD.
  • Level of engagement by the Knapp Chair, the RWG, and the campus and surrounding communities.
  • The Knapp Chair’s work and central theme(s) of the RWG addressing humanity’s urgent challenges.

Proposal Elements

1.   Nomination Letter

  • Up to 3 pages.

2.   Curriculum Vitae

3.   Statement of Intent

  • Statement describing the proposed activities that the Chair and Research Working Group will carry out at USD over a one to three-week period.
  • Brief description of possible curricular interactions, public seminar topics, and workshops or seminars that could engage students and the community.
  • Up to 3 pages.

4.   Names and contact information for three references

Application Information

Review Procedures

The review committee is composed of the Humanities Center leadership, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and two additional faculty members.

How to Apply

Complete a Knapp Chair online application.

Due Date

Proposals are due Monday, March 1, 2021.

Contact Information

For questions or further information about the Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts, please contact:

Dr. Jesse Mills, Humanities Center at Extension 7740 or

View our current and former Knapp Chairs of Liberal Arts.