Laura Skandera Trombley

Laura Skandera Trombley became the eighth president of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in July 2015.

A specialist in Mark Twain, Trombley began conducting research at The Huntington as a young scholar, using rare materials in the Library to help shape her doctoral thesis.

The Huntington had long been a part of Trombley’s world; a Southern California native, she regularly accompanied her mother to The Huntington as a young child to explore the gardens and galleries.

Trombley is the author of five books. Her most recent, Mark Twain’s Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years, was published in 2010. As a graduate student, she discovered the largest known cache of Mark Twain letters, which ultimately became the primary source material for her dissertation and her 1994 book, Mark Twain in the Company of Women. Her other books include Constructing Mark Twain: New Directions in Scholarship (2002), Critical Essays on Maxine Hong Kingston (1998), and Epistemology: Turning Points in the History of Poetic Knowledge (1986).

Before coming to The Huntington, Trombley spent 13 years as president of Pitzer College and worked to raise its national profile and enhance its reputation for academic excellence.

Trombley was elected as Chair for 2016 by The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board that was established by Congress to supervise the global Fulbright program. In December 2012, President Barack Obama named Trombley to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She was reappointed in 2014 and served as Vice Chair. Pitzer has been a top producer of Fulbright awardees among U.S. liberal arts colleges since 2010.

Trombley has written regularly about issues affecting U.S. higher education, contributing to The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast. Her scholarly articles have appeared in publications such as American Literary Realism and The Paris Review.

In addition to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, she is a member of the Chief Executives Organization and the Council of Presidents of the Association of Governing Boards.

Before Pitzer, Trombley was dean of the faculty, vice president for academic affairs, and a professor of English at Coe College. She was a Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin in American Studies at the Universitaet Eichstaett in Germany and received early tenure at SUNY Potsdam, where she held several administrative posts, including assistant provost.

The daughter of an elementary school principal and a second­grade teacher, she enrolled, at the age of 16, at Pepperdine University, where she earned her B.A. in English and humanities and graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in English. She earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California.