The Huntington, UCR Forge Bold Partnership

Pilot project serves as national model to boost faculty positions in the humanities and independent research by promising scholars

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A new partnership between UC Riverside and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens aims to boost faculty hiring and research in the humanities.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – In a bold move to support the future of the humanities in the United States, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and the University of California, Riverside have launched a new program aimed at increasing the number of faculty members in the humanities at public research universities and furthering independent research by promising scholars.

The innovative pilot project, The Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, is believed to be the first partnership of its kind in the country and launches at a time when public support of the humanities is waning in favor of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields and so-called “practical” knowledge. Across the nation, humanities departments have been cut and some dissolved. While science, technology, engineering, and math are understood to be among the most practical of academic pursuits, the humanities are essential for a well-rounded education, teaching students about context and critical examination, and providing the perspective that is fundamental to the understanding of ethics, law, business practices, democracy, and cultural difference.

Initially, the partnership will create two new faculty positions, with an eye toward expanding the program over time.

“This is a regional idea with national implications,” said Laura Skandera Trombley, president of The Huntington. “The Huntington is one of only a few cultural institutions focused wholly on humanities research and we believe that it is not only our mission, but our responsibility, to take action to support humanities scholars going forward. But it makes much more sense to go about it with a partner institution that is interested in going against the grain, taking a few risks, and not only making a statement but making an impact. We found that in UCR and are delighted to be launching this new endeavor.”

Generous financial support from The Huntington will underwrite two full years of on-site research activity for each of two UC Riverside assistant professors, providing salary support and allowing them access to the renowned collections at The Huntington.

“This is the essence of collaboration, where we are leveraging our limited resources by sharing in the cost to support these new faculty,” said UCR Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul D’Anieri. “They come on board essentially as research fellows at The Huntington and then jump into the classroom, and then back out for an additional year of research, and then back to us.  It’s a solid beginning to ensure that the public university system continues to maintain a corps of humanities faculty for the next generation of students.

“This collaboration between UC Riverside and the Huntington will help our faculty and students work more closely with one of the world’s premier collections in the arts and humanities,” D’Anieri said. “The agreement speaks to our commitment to advancing research in the arts and humanities, and to working closely with institutions throughout our community.”

Steve Hindle, The Huntington’s director of research, said, “Through this initiative, we aim to invigorate teaching and research in those humanistic fields in which The Huntington collections are strong – principally British and American history and literature, art history, and the history of science.”

Initially, the program will support scholars whose research areas are focused on 18th century studies and on the history and culture of science. Recruiting will begin immediately to hire new scholars whose appointments will be in the departments of Art History, English or History, said Milagros Peña, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

“The Huntington houses one of the world’s best collections of scholarly resources in a range of areas including British and American history and literature and the history of science,” Peña said. “In addition, it hosts world-class collections of rare books and artworks. This innovative partnership presents a major opportunity for UCR to build on its already strong reputation for scholarship in the humanities. The relationship between UCR and The Huntington will help to attract the best and brightest young scholars to the campus and build new opportunities for faculty and students alike.

“This relationship promises to be a model for supporting humanities scholarship and learning between similar institutions nationwide. It makes a public statement of confidence about the value of the humanities within higher education in the United States.”

The Huntington is one of the principal funders of humanistic research in the United States, providing some $1.8 million each year in research grants to approximately 200 scholars who come to The Huntington on short- and long-term research fellowships to use the collections in their work. Some 1,700 scholars use the research library in total each year, working in a range of fields. Their work often goes on to win major prizes including National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and other special recognition.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public, located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. For information about hours and the institution go to

The University of California, Riverside is a public, doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state, and communities around the world. Reflecting California’s diverse culture, UCR’s enrollment exceeds 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and a public policy school in 2015, and reaches the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. UC Riverside has an annual economic impact of more than $1.4 billion.

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