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A Starr-Studded Affair

A Starr-Studded Affair
Kevin Starr receives a congratulatory handshake from Gov. Schwarzenegger after the Spirit of California medal was placed around his neck during the California Hall of Fame ceremony.

USC College historian Kevin Starr was among the legends inducted into the 2010 California Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Sacramento Dec. 14.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver presented the Spirit of California medals to 14 trailblazers at the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts.

“I can think of only one honor greater — being on the USC faculty,” said University Professor Starr, who served as California State Librarian from 1994 to 2004.

The first Hall of Fame ceremony took place in 2006. Shriver and Schwarzenegger have selected the honorees each year. This year’s medalists came from diverse fields — history, music, business and technology, to name a few.

Starr’s fellow inductees included screen and music icon Barbra Streisand; actress Betty White; filmmaker James Cameron; businessman and philanthropist Levi Strauss; tennis champion Serena Williams; and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Governor-elect Jerry Brown accepted on behalf of his father, former Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown.

The audience comprised a mix of politicians and entertainers, such as former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, former Gov. Gray Davis and actor-director Clint Eastwood, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

‘‘The California Hall of Fame is a great way to honor amazing Californians whose dedication, determination and courage have helped shape this state,’’ Schwarzenegger said. ‘‘These extraordinary individuals make me proud to call California home, and their accomplishments remind us all that we live in the greatest state in the world.’’

In 2006, Starr was honored by President George W. Bush with the prestigious 2006 National Humanities Medal in a ceremony at the White House. Considered to be the nation’s leading expert on California history, Starr was credited for his lifetime of work chronicling the state as a scholar, journalist and historian.

Joining USC in 1989 as a professor of urban and regional planning, Starr was designated University Professor in 1998. He currently teaches in the Department of History and is on the Institute of Advanced Catholic Studies’ board of trustees in USC College.

Upon retiring as California State Librarian in 2004, he was named California State Librarian Emeritus by Schwarzenegger. He also has been a daily columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and the director of his own communications consulting firm.

Starr has written nearly a dozen books about California, half written while on faculty at the university, he said. The Atlantic has called the nearly 10,000 pages “a breathtaking scope” of California’s history. He most recently completed Clio on the Coast: The Writing of California History 1845-1945, to be published by The Artichoke Press this month. That book gives a detailed overview of prominent California historians such as Hubert Howe Bancroft and Robert Ernest Cowan.

Starr’s numerous publications have earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship; membership in the Society of American Historians; the Gold Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California; the Presidential Medallion of USC; and the Centennial Medal of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University.

He has been lauded for his efforts to fund and found the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, his support of Proposition 14, garnering $350 million for libraries throughout California and his role as author, teacher and all-around public believer in California.

A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Starr graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1962, then earned a master’s degree in history and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University. He also received a master of library science degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

The 2010 inductees join 51 fellow Californians who have made extraordinary accomplishments in history, science, philanthropy, sports, business, entertainment, literature, fitness, technology, activism and politics. They highlight a broad range of accomplishments achieved by California residents who have broken barriers in their fields and impacted the world with their courage, determination and creativity.

“I am so honored to be able to recognize this incredible roster of people who are not only an inspiration to me but to others across California and beyond,” Shriver said. “They represent the diversity, innovation and creativity that overflow from our amazing state.”

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