Gary D. Licker Memorial Chair


Currently, Sylvanna Falcón of the Latin American & Latino Studies Department holds a Licker Memorial Chair for the period of July 2020 to June 2023. Zac Zimmer of the Literature Department holds the Licker Memorial Chair for the period of July 2021 to June 2024. Kate McQueen of the Writing Program holds the Licker Memorial Chair for the period of July 2022 to June 2025.

Any Cowell fellow who is a member of the Academic Senate or a Continuing Unit 18 Lecturer may apply to be named a Gary D. Licker Memorial Chair of Cowell College. Appointment to the Chairship normally lasts for three years and begins on July 1. 

The Licker Chairship gives each incumbent a total of $16,000 in activity funds, the use of the title “Gary D. Licker Memorial Chair of Cowell College,” and an assignment to teach a small 20-person 5-unit seminar at Cowell (or sometimes in the home department) in the project area (offered in lieu of a regularly-taught course). The specific mechanics are as follows: in year one of the chair, $8000 is deposited into the chair’s activity account (to be used for research or other pedagogical or professional activities related to the course to be taught); in year two, the chair’s department or program receives $8000 to buy-out one of the Chair’s courses if the Chair is a Senate faculty (or the $8000 salary is paid if the awardee is a Unit 18 Lecturer); in year three, another $8000 is deposited into the Chair’s activity account.

Applications are available from the College Academic Manager. In normal years, the application is due in the Cowell office by close of business on the last teaching day of the winter term, or via email to and Applications are judged by the Provost of Cowell College and a small committee appointed by the Provost. The successful applicant will be notified by May 1, and possibly earlier. The next due date is the last day of the winter term 2023 (March 24, 2023). In any year of financial strain, the Provost may temporarily suspend the receipt of new applications.

Applications are judged according to three criteria. First, the selection committee appraises the value of the 5-unit course that the applicant proposes to teach at Cowell, ordinarily during the second year of her or his fellowship. Is the course well-conceived? Will it have value for a wide range of Cowell students? Second, the selection committee looks at the value of the course-related preparation, including research or other scholarly or professional activities that relate to the course being proposed. Does the project have coherence? Will it reflect well on UCSC and specifically on Cowell? Third, the selection committee looks at the applicant’s involvement in the life of Cowell. Has the applicant demonstrated that she or he cares about the college-based education of students? Can one infer an involvement in college life from the manner in which the applicant has performed her or his compensated duties? Also: to be considered for the Licker Chair, an applicant must have the approval of his or her department or program chair. For senate faculty, the application must be accompanied by a statement from the applicant’s department chair that the department is willing to allow the fellow to be “bought out” for one course, ordinarily during the second year of the Chairship. For 100% time continuing lecturers, the application must be accompanied by a statement from the applicant’s department or program chair that the replacement funding arrangement is acceptable and that the continuing appointment will be temporarily reduced for the relevant year in question.

Each Licker Chair is expected to deliver a lecture in the spring term of year three, open to the public and followed by a reception. The Chair needs to spend all of her or his fellowship money within twelve calendar months of the end of year three. Any unexpended funds at the end of year three will revert to the College. 

Some flexibility in scheduling may be acceptable to accommodate academic leaves and sabbaticals. It is expected that the course offered in year two of the Chairship will draw upon the activities of year one and will help inform the activities of year three. Similarly, some Chairships may extend over a four or even five-year period rather than the customary three-year period. 

The Gary D. Licker Memorial Chair program is made possible by the generous bequest of the late Gary D. Licker who was a student at Cowell and graduated in 1976. 

Ideally, there are three chairholders at all times: one in her or his first year, one in her or his second year, and one in her or his first year. In general, we hope to appoint a lecturer to the Chairship about one-third of the time. We do not anticipate being able to have any fellow obtain a Licker Chair more than once in her or his career. At regular intervals, the Provost and the Executive Committee will determine whether to increase the amount of the award in order to keep up with inflation. Matters such as the timing of the applications will be reviewed at regular intervals. If the Regent’s policies about payouts change and/or the stock market takes another plunge, we may temporarily suspend the program.