President Karen R. Lawrence
Karen R. Lawrence was named the tenth president of Sarah Lawrence College in August 2007. She previously served as Dean of the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where she co-chaired the Humanities Commission charged with formulating the University of California’s twenty-first century role as a national and international model for the humanities in higher education. Prior to her Deanship at UCI, President Lawrence was a member and chair of the Department of English at the University of Utah.
She attended Smith College for two years and received her B.A. degree in English, magna cum laude, from Yale University. Dr. Lawrence was among the first women to graduate from Yale when it became coeducational. She earned an M.A. in English from Tufts University and her Ph.D. in English, with distinction, from Columbia University.
During her tenure at Sarah Lawrence, President Lawrence has focused on the building of student, faculty, and staff community and created a strong and involved presidential presence on campus. She taught seminars on James Joyce and has guest taught with colleagues in the literature department on British and Irish literature. She has strengthened links with the surrounding Yonkers and Bronxville communities. President Lawrence has helped garner resources for new initiatives in Environmental Studies and Technology and the Arts, as well as endowed support for SLC's Summer Science Program and for faculty chairs, such as the Merle Rosenblatt Goldman Chair in Asian Studies. Additional fundraising emphases have included the "angel fund" scholarships for continuing students and diversity scholarships. Her dedication to sustainable policies and practices has led her to become a signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Upon her arrival at SLC, President Lawrence launched a comprehensive strategic planning process with all Sarah Lawrence College constituents, which will provide a blueprint for the College during the next five to seven years.
President Lawrence is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on its Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Annapolis Group. She has served as a member of the Women’s Leadership Network, the American Council of Education Commission on Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity, the Presidents’ Leadership Coalition, and the board of the Commission of Independent Colleges and Universities.
A widely respected English and Irish literature scholar and teacher, President Lawrence has a special interest in James Joyce. She has held leadership positions in national and international scholarly organizations, including serving as the president of the International James Joyce Foundation for eight years, and the president of the Society for the Study of Narrative Literature. She has written seven books on literature and has published widely in leading academic journals. Her books include The Odyssey of Style in Ulysses (Princeton); Penelope Voyages: Women and Travel in the British Literary Tradition (Cornell); Transcultural Joyce (Cambridge); Decolonizing Tradition: New Views of 20th Century "British" Literary Cannons (Illinois); Who's Afraid of James Joyce? (University Press of Florida) and Techniques for Living: Fiction and Theory in the Work of Christine Brooke-Rose (The Ohio State University Press). View collected works»
Throughout her career, President Lawrence has received numerous awards and professional accolades, including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the Ramona Cannon Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities, and the University of Utah’s prestigious Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence in research, teaching, and service.
President Lawrence is married to Peter Lawrence, Chief of Vascular Surgery and Director of the Gonda Vascular Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. They have two sons, Andrew and Jeffrey.