SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah law professor Erika George has been appointed the new director of the Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center.
George, the Samuel D. Thurman Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, will start July 1, when Robert Goldberg, professor of history, concludes his 13-year tenure as director.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, George also earned a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of Chicago. While at Harvard, George was articles editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.
She also holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago.
Prior to joining the U., George was a law clerk for Judge William T. Hart on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; a litigation associate for law in Chicago and New York City. She has been as a fellow and later consultant to Human Rights Watch.
George said she is "truly honored to be entrusted with this new responsibility.”
George worked closely with President Ruth Watkins as a leadership fellow for 2018-19 and, in that capacity, served on the president’s cabinet.
“Erika’s background and perspectives on issues central to the Tanner Humanities Center’s mission make her the perfect fit for this role,” Watkins said. “Erika is a force for good and I have great confidence in her leadership and ability to collaborate across disciplines to expand the center’s engagement and impact.”
George is author of a book-length report for Human Rights Watch, “Scared at School: Sexual Violence Against Girls in South African Schools,” which received widespread media coverage in South Africa and internationally
She is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and is a member of the executive board of the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights. She serves as the 2019-20 Presidential Leadership Fellow and as interim director of the U.’s Barbra and Norman Tanner Center for Human Rights.
George said Goldberg built the Tanner Humanities Center "into the strong pillar that it is today.
"I am eager to carry the important work of the center forward and to reach farther. I am especially excited to be an advocate for the humanities at a time when a full appreciation for our common humanity feels more important than ever. I look forward to cultivating community across campus and creating connections locally and globally for the U.," George said.
Stuart Culver, dean of the College of Humanities, thanked Goldberg for more than a decade of "extraordinary leadership."
“His devoted labor and insightful leadership have enabled the center to elevate its profile and realize its mission at all levels. Under George’s leadership, we look forward to developing new interdisciplinary partnerships as the center continues to play a critical role advancing the intellectual life at the university and the community," Culver said.
Goldberg raised nearly $5 million to fund projects such as the Gateway to Learning Teacher Workshops, the World Leaders Lecture Forum, Professors off Campus Program and the Latter-day Saints Studies Initiative. In 2008, he was awarded the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, the U.’s highest faculty accolade.
Goldberg brought writers, artists, world leaders and Latter-day Saints scholars to campus to cultivate lively and inclusive dialogue about the humanities.
Speakers have included Margaret Atwood, Tony Kushner, Spike Lee, Isabel Allende, Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, Sandra Cisneros, Stanley Nelson, former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Shirin Ebadi of Iran, President of Colombia Cesar Gaviria, former President of Doctors Without Borders James Orbinski, Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, former CIA Director John Brennan, former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, Richard Bushman, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, David Campbell and Kathleen Flake.
Goldberg said serving as director of the Tanner Humanities Center was "the capstone of my career."
“During this time, we have developed programs that reveal humanities as the core of an intellectually healthy campus and community. The humanities teach us to be human. They inspire not only this world, but a better world,” she said.
As director, George will oversee programs, operations, workshops and activities for fellows, development, marketing and communications and staff relations.