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Emory Elliott Tribute

UC Riverside Plans Memorial Tribute to Emory Elliott

The late scholar of American studies will be honored June 1 in an event that will include UC officials, Brown University’s president, and UCR students and faculty.

(May 26, 2009)

Emory Elliott was an inspiring mentor to his students.Enlarge

Emory Elliott was an inspiring mentor to his students.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A memorial tribute to the life and legacy of Emory Elliott, University Professor and distinguished professor of English at the University of California Riverside, will be held on Monday, June 1, from 3 to 5 p.m. in University Theatre on the UCR campus. An informal reception will follow.

The event, hosted by the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, will feature UCR faculty, students and staff as well as prominent scholars whose lives were shaped by their collaborations with Professor Elliott. The internationally recognized scholar of American studies and American literature died of a heart attack at his home on March 31. He was 66.

Memorial speakers will include UCR Chancellor Timothy White; David Theo Goldberg, director of the UC Humanities Research Institute; Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University; Lisa Lowe, author of “Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics” and a former resident at UCR’s Center for Ideas and Society; and UCR students and faculty.

A memorial Web site has been created at The site includes photos, links to articles about Professor Elliott, and pages for memories from colleagues and students, Emory Elliott Memorial Scholarship donations and announcements.

Professor Elliott grew up in Baltimore and started his career as a high school teacher. He came to UC Riverside in 1989 from Princeton University, where he was a professor for 17 years, including three years as chairman of the English department.

In his 20 years at UCR, he was a productive scholar, an award-winning teacher and a leader in his academic field nationally and internationally. In 2001, the University of California named him a University Professor, making him a resource for the entire system. He was one of only 36 people in the UC system so honored.

He was most closely identified at UCR with the Center for Ideas and Society, a research center he directed with funding from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and other major foundations. He was known widely on campus because he brought together small groups of scholars from all disciplines to study for a quarter about a common theme, for instance the moral implications of genetic engineering or the place where technology intersects the humanities.

Professor Elliott’s interest in recruiting minority students and faculty, and his efforts to improve race relations in general, earned him the Rosemary S. J. Schraer Award for Humanitarian Service, named for a former UCR Chancellor. He also earned a distinguished teaching award from the UCR Academic Senate, the highest form of compliment from his colleagues. He was also one of the first recipients of the Academic Senate’s Graduate Student Mentor Award.

Among hundreds of honors and publications, Elliott edited a ground-breaking book, “Columbia Literary History of the United States” (1988), which won the American Book Award. He is also a recent past president of the American Studies Association.

He was the author of “Power and the Pulpit in Puritan New England,” published by Princeton University Press (1975), and “Revolutionary Writers: Literature and Authority in the New Republic,” published by Oxford University Press. He was Series Editor of “The American Novel” (Cambridge University Press) and “Penn Studies in Contemporary American Fiction.”

He was a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Studies, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center, as well as a fellow at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He taught in many parts of the world, including Paris, Brazil, Beijing, and Poland.

He is survived by his wife, Georgia, who is UCR’s associate vice chancellor for development; five children; and five grandchildren.

For more information about the memorial tribute contact Susan Beals at (951) 827-2762 or


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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