Dr. W. Benson Harer, a longtime supporter and friend of Cal State San Bernardino and the university’s Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA), has been named the recipient of the 2020 Emory Award from the Book Club of Washington (BCW) for his extraordinary contributions to the culture of the book.
Dr. Harer’s association with the Book Club of Washington began after he and his late wife Pamela relocated to Seattle in 2005. He has hosted BCW collection tours, a Biblio Stone Soup, and is a lifetime member. The spring 2019 issue of The Journal of the Book Club of Washington contains an account of Dr. Harer’s arduous but ultimately successful effort to finally achieve the publication of a “lost manuscript” that is a significant contribution to Egyptology studies.
Dr. Harer and his family’s support over the years has helped establish CSUSB both academically and in the arts as a leader in the field of Egyptology.
In 2017, Dr. Harer helped establish a visiting faculty position at the CSUSB campus focusing on the teaching of Egyptology and early Egyptian art history. The W. Benson Harer Egyptology Scholar in Residence brings to the university community one of the world’s preeminent experts in this field, serving as a part-time single semester visiting faculty position in the history department of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
In 2014, the Harers established The Pamela and Dr. Benson Harer Fellowship, CSUSB’s first-ever fully-endowed faculty position focused on Egyptology.
Last year, the Harer’s children, C. Kenworthey Harer and Cynthia Harer-Gibbs, generously donated more than 2,200 books worth over $300,000 about ancient Egypt to the university’s John M. Pfau Library and RAFFMA. All of the books complement the expanding study of ancient Egypt on campus as well as the ancient Egyptian collection housed at RAFFMA. Many of the books are unique, primary sources that support advanced research by CSUSB students, faculty and visitors, and are an asset to the 23-campus California State University.
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. He also served as president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the world’s largest organization of ob-gyn specialists. Harer 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.
Dr. Harer’s fascination with ancient Egypt started as a child and continued into adulthood. 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 Harer.
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. Dr. Harer has also loaned parts of his collection to major shows in dozens of museums all over the world.
The Emory Award was created to honor George Meade Emory (1931-2010) and Deborah Carley Emory (1934-2014) who were avid book collectors and longtime BCW members. Over the years, Meade wrote a number of articles for The Journal, and Deborah served as its editor from 2002 to 2006. Meade was a prominent Seattle attorney, professor of tax law at the University of Washington, and one-time assistant director of the Internal Revenue Service. He collected books about the Pacific Northwest. Deborah had many and varied interests, but her love and knowledge of music eventually led her to develop a career writing for music and arts journals, specializing in chamber music. The couple endowed a fund to assist the University of Washington Libraries in acquiring books about the Pacific Northwest.
For more information, visit the Book Club of Washington website.
For more information on the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA), visit the museum website.