Robert C. May

Job title: 
Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Philosophy & Linguistics, UC Davis

Robert C. May is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Linguistics at UC Davis. He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics and Philosophy from MIT in 1977, and his Bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College. Prof. May joined the UC Irvine faculty in 1986, and moved to UC Davis in 2006. He held the Venice Chair in Philosophy of Language and Theoretical Linguistics, a Fulbright Distinguished Professorship, and visiting positions at Columbia University, Ecole Normale Superieure, and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

Prof. May’s research interests span areas in philosophy and linguistics, and in the intersection of these two disciplines. In linguistics, his research has been in theoretical linguistics, with focus on the relations between syntax and semantics. His research in philosophy has been in philosophy of language, philosophy of logic and the history of early analytic philosophy, with a focus on Frege. In the area of higher eduction, Prof. May’s current research interest is in the conceptual foundations of academic freedom, and its practical applications in university settings.

Prof. May has a long and distinguished record in UC Academic Senate service. Primary among his leadership roles was serving as chair of the University Committee on Faculty Welfare (UCFW) in 1999-2000, and chairing the UCFW Health Care Task Force from 2009 to 2017. Prof. May was the 2018-19 chair of the UC system- wide Academic Senate. With UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal, Prof. May chaired the Working Group on Privileges and Responsibilities of Non-Faculty Academic Appointees that de- veloped the extensions of the UC academic freedom policy enshrined in APM-011. In recognition of his contributions to shared gover- nance, Prof. May was the 2013 recipient of UC Davis Charles P. Nash Prize for University Service in 2013.

Research interests: 

Philosophy of language, philosophy of logic, history of early analytic philosophy, theoretical linguistics, academic freedom