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Chair Programs

The chair programs affiliated to the Vice Presidency of Teaching Affairs of the University of Costa Rica are open university spaces to develop academic activities where the university community, the civil society, centers and institutes, non-governmental organizations, national and foreign institutions participate and interact.

Currently, the University of Costa Rica has 27 chair programs that promote the discussion, reflection, and analysis of information in its national, regional, or global context and that disseminate knowledge and innovations with inter-, trans-, and multidisciplinary approaches.

In 1980 and 1981, the University opened its first chairs at the Vice Presidency of Teaching Affairs: the Emma Gamboa Chair and the Eugenio Fonseca Tortós Chair, respectively. A few years later, in 1986, the Institution officially decided to create chairs in teaching. Since then, new excellence, institutional, thematic, and international academic chairs have been established. These categories are described below:


  • Chairs of Excellence

    The chairs of excellence are established to honor people who have excelled in academia, research, sciences, humanities, education, or politics. National and foreign thinkers, scholars, and emancipators who have had a close relationship with the University of Costa Rica are also honored.

    Among others, the Emma Gamboa Chair of the College of Education and the Dr. Eugenio Fonseca Tortós Chair of the School of Sociology are two of these chairs of excellence where the University’s academic units converge and interact in a wealth of themes of general interest. Each chair’s emphasis is determined according to the field where the person being honored excelled. In these two cases, Prof. Gamboa excelled in education and Dr. Fonseca in the study of social events and phenomena.

    The first chairs of excellence started in the 80s as posthumous tribute to two distinguished college professors. But, over time, homage has been paid to some senior citizens to distinguish their work. This is the case of the chair named after Maria Eugenia Dengo Obregón, emeritus professor of the University of Costa Rica and former Minister of Public Education, who personally accepted this honor in 2006.

    The chairs of excellence comprise the largest category and are created according to a proposal submitted the colleges, schools, regional campuses, or research institutes to the Vice Presidency of Teaching Affairs. Each chair is coordinated by the advisory or scientific council of the academic unit where it is created.

  • Institutional Chairs

    Institutional chairs are management and coordination spaces for the various academic units of the University of Costa Rica to create linkages aimed at their inter-, trans-, and multidisciplinarity, universalization, and democratization of knowledge, the sciences, arts, humanities, and technologies.

    They were set up as a mechanism to unify the different university entities and to seek to establish policies for academic integration in the most important arenas: teaching, research, and social outreach at a national, regional, and global level.

    The first was the Lucem Aspicio Chair (in Latin ’in search of light’) to honor the logo of the University of Costa Rica. It gathers the deans of the various colleges, including the Graduate College, and the Coordinators of the Institution’s Regional Campuses.

  • Thematic Chairs

    The thematic chairs are geared toward developing highly significant topics and creating linkages between the University of Costa Rica and the society at large, thus creating spaces for the analysis, discussion, and reflection of a variety of issues to make them more relevant and sustainable.

    The thematic chairs include a Chair on Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development and a Chair on the Information and Knowledge Society, which seek to serve as a means to encourage the debate, reflection, and exchange of ideas about the importance of these topics and to promote cooperation and exchange activities among the members of the university community and the country’s sectors through courses, lectures, congresses, seminars, round tables, and publications.

  • International Chairs

    Since 2013, the Vice Presidency of Teaching Affairs has been opening international chairs that directly link the University of Costa Rica with well known national and international institutions to promote cooperation activities and exchanges among the members of the university communities.

    The first was the Chair on Korean and East Asian Studies, which aims at promoting the discussion, reflection, and exchange of ideas between the Costa Rican, Korean, and East Asian cultures, in addition to fostering and encouraging cooperation and exchange activities in all disciplines between the University of Costa Rica and Korean and East Asian universities and institutions.

    Furthermore, the Chair on African and Caribbean Studies focuses on the promotion of the study and recognition of the heritage of Costa Rican Afro-descendants, the role of Africa and the Caribbean in the international economy, and the Africans’ role in the establishment and development of the Americas. For this purpose, alliances have been built with several national and international institutions, universities, and researchers and the United Nations System.

    More recently, the Wilhelm and Alexander Von Humboldt Special Chair on Humanities and Social Sciences was established in cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which gathers more than 230 German public universities, has academic exchange programs worldwide, and cooperates with higher education institutions in the Central American region. This chair promotes the scientific exchange between Germany, Costa Rica, and Central America in the areas of Humanities and Social Sciences through courses, lectures, congresses, colloquiums, publications, and translations.

    The following is a list of the university chairs in order of creation. Each is linked to the resolution that created it:


Cátedra Año de creación
1 Cátedra Emma Gamboa 1980
2 Cátedra Dr. Eugenio Fonseca Tortós 1981
3 Cátedra Dr. Clodomiro Picado Twight 1986
4 Cátedra José Figueres Ferrer 1990
5 Cátedra Julián Volio Llorente 1993
6 Cátedra Dr. Antonio Peña Chavarría 1993
7 Cátedra Rafael Lucas Rodríguez Caballero 1997
8 Cátedra Enrique Macaya Lahmann 1997
9 Cátedra Herman Vargas Martínez 1997
10 Cátedra José Julián Martí 2000
11 Cátedra Armando Aráuz Aguilar 2002
12 Cátedra Dr. Rodrigo Loría Cortés 2002
13 Cátedra Dr. Gabriel Dengo Obregón 2003
14 Cátedra Lucem Aspicio 2004
15 Cátedra Simón Bolívar 2004
16 Cátedra María Eugenia Dengo Obregón 2006
17 Cátedra Temática: Innovación y desarrollo empresarial 2007
18 Cátedra Temática: Sociedad de la Información y el Conocimiento 2007
19 Cátedra Nelly Kopper Dodero 2008
20 Cátedra “Ibn Khaldun” 2008
21 Cátedra UNESCO-Temática: Transdisciplinariedad, Complejidad y Ecoformación 2010
22 Cátedra Temática: Seguridad y Convivencia Democrática 2011
23 Cátedra Rodrigo Carazo Odio 2012
24 Cátedra Sara Astica 2013
25 Cátedra de Estudios de Corea y el Este Asiático 2013
26 Cátedra de Estudios de África y el Caribe 2013
27 Cátedra Wilhelm y Alexander Von Humboldt en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales 2013


For more information on these chairs, call the Vice Presidency of Teaching Affairs at (506) 2511-1150 of the Main Switchboard or at (506) 2511-1230 of the Communications Department, or write to .

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