Longtime art lovers create CSUSB’s first endowed faculty fellowship

     

Pamela and Dr. Benson Harer, longtime supporters of Cal State San Bernardino and its Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA), have pledged $500,000 to establish the university’s first-ever fully-endowed faculty fellowship.

Dr. Benson Harer (l) and his wife Pamela, longtime supporters of Cal State San Bernardino and its Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art, have pledged $500,000 to establish the university’s first-ever fully-endowed faculty fellowship.. Photo by Lindsey Wasson.

Dr. Benson Harer (l) and his wife Pamela, longtime supporters of Cal State San Bernardino and its Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art, have pledged $500,000 to establish the university’s first-ever fully-endowed faculty fellowship.. Photo by Lindsey Wasson.

The Pamela and Dr. Benson Harer Fellowship will support a new tenure-track faculty position focused on Egyptology, a longtime passion for the Harers. The Harer Family Trust has provided a substantial collection of Egyptian antiquities as gifts and on permanent loan to RAFFMA. The collection has become the centerpiece for several educational programs, including a program for local children titled the “Summer Egyptian Experience.”

“The ancient Egyptians believed ‘You can take it with you’ and that is why the world has such rich treasures of their civilization,” said Dr. Harer. “We believe it is better to leave their treasures here to share with the students and community served by CSUSB. Teaching by a Faculty Fellow will enhance the educational value of our collection and broaden the experience of visitors.”

The Pamela and Dr. Benson Harer Fellowship will be housed in one of the university’s colleges, said CSUSB Provost Andy Bodman. The new faculty member will be in place by September 2015.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Harers for this generous gift to the university, which will help spur further teaching and study of ancient Egypt, creating a lifetime benefit to our students and campus community,” said CSUSB President Tomás Morales. “Their contributions over the years have been exemplary, showcasing the use of art to educate and stimulate knowledge.”

An obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Harer maintained a practice in San Bernardino for more than 30 years and served as medical director at Riverside County Regional Medical Center. Harer also served as president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the world’s largest organization of Ob-Gyn specialists. He had also served that organization as chair for California and as national secretary. Harer also co-founded TelMed, Inc., a nationwide service that offered free, taped health information by telephone and fielded more than 300 million calls. Dr. Harer holds the distinction of receiving the first honorary doctorate ever bestowed by CSUSB, in 2001.

Pamela K. Harer, JD, practiced liability defense law in the Inland Empire for 20 years. She shares her husband’s passion for Egyptology, but is also a leading authority on historical children’s books. She has shared her rich collections to libraries and museums around the country. Libraries and museums that have exhibited her book collections include CSUSB (Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art), Arne Nixon Collection of Children’s books at CSU Fresno, Lilly Library at University of Indiana, Florida International University in Miami, and the University of Washington.

Dr. Harer has been fascinated with ancient Egypt since he was a child. As a young medical resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Harer would take his breaks by walking the hallways of the university museum. He started collecting in 1955 with the purchase of a scarab necklace for Pamela.

Relief Depicting a Precession of Gods; Ptolemaic Period; Sandstone; ca. 304-30 B.C. Gift of the Harer Family Trust. Photo: Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art

Relief Depicting a Precession of Gods; Ptolemaic Period; Sandstone; ca. 304-30 B.C. Gift of the Harer Family Trust. Photo: Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art

That passion elevated when the couple acquired an Egyptian collection, which originated in 1895 with Anthony Drexel Jr., son of the 19th-century banker from Philadelphia who is credited with establishing Wall Street. This ultimately became the start of the Harer Family Trust Collection in the 1970s.

Dr. Harer was the first non-professional to become a governor of the American Research Center in Egypt, while also serving eight years on the executive committee. He has explored with the Berkeley Theban Mapping Project and excavated in Egypt with the Brooklyn Museum expedition to the Mut precinct in Karnak since 1981. He is recognized internationally as an authority on ancient Egyptian medicine with numerous articles and lectures, and was an Adjunct Professor of Egyptian Art at CSUSB.

Now residents of Seattle, the Harers have also loaned parts of their collection to major shows in dozens of museums all over the world.

For more information about the Harer Collection at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art, visit the museum website.

For more information on the Pamela and Dr. Benson Harer Fellowship  and a digital image of the Harers, contact the CSUSB Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.