This coming weekend, friends and colleagues will gather at UCSC to celebrate the career and retirement of Professor John Lynch, professor of classics and former provost of Cowell College. With the deepest regrets I am unable to attend, but I’d be remiss not to call out — with the highest level of appreciation — his remarkable, inspiring and valued contributions.
In so many respects, John fulfilled the true Santa Cruz ideal of teacher/scholar, and he did so with an understated, almost humble form of over-achievement. He truly walked the talk on UCSC’s college vision. As Provost, he effectively balanced traditional rituals — Latin benedictions before every college night — with contemporary, often difficult, discussions around topics like diversity.
He brought remarkable visitors and speakers to the campus, from Oliver Sachs to El Teatro Campesino founder Luis Valdez. Rarely did a week pass where John and his wife Sheila were not inviting students to the Provost’s home for receptions and thoughtful discussions.
When student leaders mulled over the establishment of a centralized student government (now the SUA), John provided thoughtful guidance and counsel. And here’s a big one for the history books: when the first SUA voted to put the banana slug on ballot as official mascot, John unwittingly inspired the current, and now official, “Fiat Slug” design. Indeed, when Cowell student and artist Marc Ratner (Cowell ’87) and I collaborated on the slug design, it was no small coincidence that the slug was wearing glasses and diligently reading Plato.
That was our way of saying thanks to John for inspiring the endless “pursuit of truth in the company of friends” — always. Thanks, John, for inspiring so many of us! Fiat Slug!
*Pete Blackshaw, Cowell ’88*