Gregorian Discusses Higher Ed, U.S.-Iran Relations in Bloomberg TV Interview

Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, in a thought-provoking interview broadcast Tuesday, May 17 on Bloomberg Television's "Surveillance Midday" and available online, discussed the importance of maintaining intellectual rigor in our nation’s universities; suggested what makes America unique; and commented on the long and often overlooked history of positive relations between the U.S. and Iran.

Speaking with the program’s host, Tom Keene, Gregorian said that “Intellectual rigor is always present in our universities.”  The former university president added that the nation would not otherwise have been capable of training successive generations of leaders.

“Universities,” said Gregorian, “are not job training programs.  Universities have to educate people as citizens, as cultured human beings.”

“America is not perfect, but it is perfectible,” a line from a recent commencement address delivered by Gregorian, suggests America’s uniqueness, a theme upon which the Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee expounded.

“We know how America was formed—through struggle, hard work, discussion, and open-mindedness,” he said.  Americans are unlike citizens of any other country in that we are “always looking at the future rather than bemoaning the past.”

“Other societies,” he said, “do not consider themselves as perfectible.”

Switching gears, Keene and Gregorian discussed Gregorian’s proposal, published in the May 1, 2009 issue of US News & World Report, for President Obama to spell out in a letter to Iran’s  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, our common interests, mutual concerns, and prospects for peace.

That letter, Gregorian said, “should tell what we [the U.S.] have done [for Iran] since 1835. 

Gregorian presented a long list pertaining to U.S.-Iranian relations in general and those of the past 30 years in particular, including granting Iran most-favored-nation trading status, establishing the country’s first universities and hospitals, and protecting the nation in both World War I and World War II.

Gregorian also reminded viewers it was the U.S that helped to create Iran’s army and establish its nuclear energy sector.  In closing, he characterized the Iranian people as tolerant, educated and pro-American.