HomeCity NewsKaren R. Lawrence Named President of The Huntington

Karen R. Lawrence Named President of The Huntington

Following what it termed “an extensive international search,” Karen R. Lawrence, former president of Sarah Lawrence College, has been named president of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, The Huntington’s Board of Trustees announced today.

Lawrence, who steps into the role Sept. 1, is The Huntington’s ninth president. She joins The Huntington following 10 years as president at Sarah Lawrence, a small, liberal arts college in Yonkers, NY.

“Karen’s combination of qualities — her collaborative leadership style, unflappable nature, and strong scholarly background— convinced the search committee that she’s absolutely the right person to lead The Huntington at this time, especially as we gear up for our centennial and several major projects ahead,” said Loren Rothschild, chair of the institution’s Board of Trustees.

Among those significant projects are the groundbreaking conservation effort on The Blue Boy, the iconic 18th-century Gainsborough portrait, part of which will take place in public view this fall, as well as the expansion of The Huntington’s renowned Chinese Garden, also slated to get underway later this year.

“The Huntington represents so much of what I hold as core values— a humanistic approach that emphasizes curiosity, empathy, and aesthetic appreciation,” said Lawrence. “I am thrilled by this extraordinary opportunity, especially given the challenges facing the arts and humanities and the extent to which The Huntington contributes to knowledge making and the exchange of ideas, public enrichment, cultural analysis and a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.”

At Sarah Lawrence, she was known as a popular president, regularly teaching classes on James Joyce, her area of expertise. “Karen ignited a passion in her students for Joyce’s beautifully complex novels and short stories,” said graduate India Nicholas. Nicholas said she was so inspired by Lawrence’s teaching that she traveled overseas expressly to delve deeper into Joyce’s Ireland.

Lawrence holds her bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University, her M.A. from Tufts University, and her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

At The Huntington, she will oversee a staff of 500, as well as world-renowned collections of rare books, manuscripts, and related materials, European and American art, and some 120 acres of botanical gardens, along with a substantial program of research and education.


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