UC San Diego News Center


First UC San Diego MacArthur Foundation Chair Holders Named

Sheldon Brown and Emilie Hafner-Burton will hold University of California endowed faculty chairs, each supported by a $1 million endowment

For the first time, two distinguished UC San Diego faculty have been appointed to hold University of California endowed faculty chairs supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, in areas of particular interest to the Foundation. UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla has appointed Sheldon Brown from the Division of Arts and Humanities holder of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning, and Emilie Hafner-Burton from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies holder of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in International Justice and Human Rights.

In 1981, the MacArthur Foundation—one of the nation’s largest independent foundations—established a $1.2 million endowment to support an endowed chair that would rotate among the University of California campuses. The endowment has since generated seven systemwide chairs that rotate among the UC campuses in five-year increments. UC San Diego’s first allocation of these prestigious systemwide chairs will be from 2014 to 2019. Brown and Hafner-Burton will each be supported by a $1 million endowment for a five-year term.

“Endowed chairs, which provide support for the chair holder’s scholarly activities, are critical to attracting and retaining exceptional faculty in a wide range of academic fields,” said UC San Diego Executive Vice Chancellor Suresh Subramani. “We are delighted to recognize Sheldon Brown and Emilie Hafner-Burton with appointments to these prestigious chairs so generously endowed by the MacArthur Foundation.”

Sheldon Brown

Sheldon Brown

Sheldon Brown, a professor of visual arts at UC San Diego, is director of the campus’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and UC San Diego site director for the Center for Hybrid Multicore Productivity Research sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

In her nomination of Brown for the endowed faculty chair, Dean of Arts and Humanities Cristina Della Coletta stated, “Professor Brown’s innovative and cross-disciplinary practice and his varied contributions to the profession satisfy in an exemplary way the spirit of the MacArthur endowment and reflect the level of distinction that UC San Diego requires of all its chair holders. In over 20 years at UC San Diego, Professor Brown has brought insight and creativity to a boldly interdisciplinary arena that uses digital media to engage disciplines traditionally as disparate as neuroscience and sculpture, literature and medicine, and engineering and the visual arts. His works dwell in the fertile and capacious space where contemporary art meets cutting edge computer science.”

“The endowed chair award will help to further my work in creating insightful experiences that engage the elusive qualities of aesthetics and imagination,” added Brown. “Digital media provides a platform for responsive environments where an individual’s state of mind can attenuate interactions with mediated phenomena. The ultimate outcome of this work is the ability to create richer, deeper and more nuanced cultural and learning experiences.”

Emilie M. Hafner-Burton is an expert on international law and regulation as it relates to the protection of human rights. She authored “Making Human Rights a Reality,” which examines why it has been so difficult for international laws to have an impact in parts of the world where human rights are most at risk.

Emilie Hafner-Burton

Emilie M. Hafner-Burton

“Professor Hafner-Burton is recognized by her peers in political science as one of the top two scholars in the world working on international politics and human rights,” said Gordon Hanson, former acting dean of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, in his nomination letter. “She is unquestionably UC San Diego’s foremost scholar on the subject. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was selected to receive the Karl Deutsch Award of the International Studies Association in 2012, given to a scholar who, within 10 years of earning a Ph.D., has made the most significant contribution to the study of international relations—an exceptional honor that reflects the impact that her work has already had on the discipline.”

Hafner-Burton said, “I am honored to receive The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of International Justice and Human Rights, which will help to support cutting-edge research on the global promotion of human rights through advocacy, elections, law and social media. That research promises new frontiers for understanding how human rights activists can most effectively promote their causes, including how to reduce electoral violence in the developing world, how to improve the power of law to protect the rights of the innocent and how to broadcast the global discourse of rights through new social media.”