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, following an extensive international search.
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, highly regarded liberal arts college in Yonkers, NY. Her tenure at Sarah Lawrence began just before the recession of 2008-9; she is credited with weathering that crisis with sound management and unflagging resolve, moving the institution into a period of strong growth and performance as well as increased student body diversity.
“Karen’s combination of qualities; her collaborative leadership style, unflappable nature, and strong scholarly backgrounds 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.”