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Open Access Publications from the University of California

John P. Lynch: Campus Citizen, Community Educator, Classics Professor


John Patrick Lynch is a professor emeritus of literature and a formative figure in the classics program at UC Santa Cruz, as well as a former provost of Cowell College. Lynch expands on these roles in this account, providing their larger context in his work and philosophies as an educator, and discussing his hopes and priorities in his 37-year career at this institution. He makes sweeps through the personal as well as the professional, and in doing so, affirms a core vocational identity as a teacher above all else, a campus citizen above a researcher. In his work at UCSC, Lynch sought to instantiate a model of learning that is fundamentally shared between teacher and student, one that goes beyond the confines of the classroom to become an experience in community.

Lynch proves to be a thoughtful commentator on what has often been called the original UCSC experiment, starting from his decision to pick up and drive cross country, having never taught a class, to accept a position in classics at the young campus in 1969. He explains, “It had some of the same prestige in its newness that places like Harvard or Yale had in their ancientness or oldness.” He illustrates this character through his own experience teaching courses like pantology (“the study of everything”), anecdotes on what he terms the cultural (rather than political) radicalism of early Santa Cruz, and through his own involvement in the collegiate model of student engagement.

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