Huntington Library and UC Riverside teaming up to hire humanities professors

In an effort to promote scholarship in the humanities, the Huntington Library will subsidize the hiring of two professors at UC Riverside and host them as researchers for two years.

Plans being announced Wednesday describe the program as a way to help support the study of humanities at a time when some departments are facing cutbacks as more attention is paid to science and technology on college campuses.

Riverside will hire two assistant professors, who will spend their first and fourth years doing research full-time amid at the Huntington’s large collection of documents, artifacts and artworks. During that time, their salaries — expected to be as much as $70,000 a year — will be paid by the library in San Marino; UC will pay their salaries during the other two and subsequent years, officials said.

The scholars are expected to be hired next year in UC Riverside’s art history, history or English departments and will focus on 18th century studies and the history and culture of science — topics that are well represented in the Huntington’s archives.

Although the institutions are 50 miles apart, leaders said the partnership would benefit both and could be extended with more hirings.

Steve Hindle — director of research at what is formally known as the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens — said the Huntington will further its mission by having the scholars explore some of its 9 million manuscripts and 800,000 rare books, which have a special emphasis on British and American history and literature.

The goal is to see the research become the basis for new books. “We are trying to animate the collection,” Hindle said.

The arrangement will help the campus recruit and retain talented new faculty, said Paul D’Anieri, UC Riverside’s provost and executive vice chancellor.

“It’s a great deal for a beginning humanities professor in a world in which humanities fellowships are hard to come by,” he said.

D’Anieri said the university would control the hiring and the research topics, although the choices would play “to the strengths of the Huntington’s collection.”

The Huntington’s funds for the two years of research will come from the $1.8 million it has available each year for visiting scholars in its various fellowship programs, officials said. The Huntington’s overall endowment is about $442 million.

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