National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia Honors Vartan Gregorian
In recognition of Vartan Gregorian's lifetime achievement as a scholar, educator, humanitarian and philanthropic leader, the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia named him an Honorary Doctor on September 26.
Fadey Sargsyan, president of the Academy proposed the honor and it was supported by all academicians, including Radik Martirosyan, the Rector of Yerevan State University and Georg Brutian, vice president of the Academy. The Academy was founded in 1943 and it promotes and carries out basic and applied research in many fields.
Brutan mentioned Gregorian's close ties with Armenian scholars and outlined Gregorian's many accomplishments. The unifying theme of Gregorian's life, he said, is a love of ideas and a lifelong effort to share it. For the last four years he has been president of Carnegie Corporation of New York--and he personifies the foundation's mission, which is the endless search for knowledge and the spread of understanding in the name of global peace and civilization. During his presidency, Gregorian has refocused the organization's efforts on developing new ideas to further peace and international security, support higher education and libraries in Africa, strengthen American democracy and pioneer U.S. educational reforms from pre-school to graduate school. Born in Tabriz, Iran, of Armenian parents, Gregorian came to the United States to study at Stanford University, where he earned both his B.A. and Ph.D. in history and humanities. One result of his scholarship is his definitive history, Emergence of Modern Afghanistan, 1880-1946.
His long and distinguished career in higher education includes teaching European and Middle Eastern history, at least part-time, over a 40-year period at many universities across the country. In his last full-time appointment, starting in 1972, he was Tarzian Professor of History and professor of South Asian history at the University of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, he became Penn's founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In that position, he demonstrated his administrative skill as well as his belief in the importance of interdisciplinary studies by smoothly integrating more than 500 faculty members from a half-dozen schools on campus into one liberal arts faculty--an advance that played an important role in the future development of the university. Gregorian was also Penn's twenty-third provost.
From 1981 to 1989, Gregorian served as a president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library, an institution with a network of four research libraries and eighty-three circulating libraries. He led the transformation, or more aptly, the resurrection, of the library, making it once again a central cultural and educational force in the city. Under his stewardship, the library raised almost $400 million and acquired an additional $100 million worth of collections. As the library was modernized, expanded and made more accessible, Gregorian showed, at a time of cynicism, that public institutions and excellence were quite compatible
From 1989 until 1997, Gregorian served as president of Brown University. Among other accomplishments, he accelerated the internationalization of the university, through recruitment of faculty and students, while at the same time he was actively engaged in the renaissance of the city of Providence as a center for arts, education and small businesses. During his tenure, Brown became a leader in promoting community service and improving public schools--which eventually led to Gregorian's pro bono service as advisor to Ambassador Walter Annenberg's $500 million investment in public school reform. Gregorian also strengthened Brown by doubling scholarship funds and almost tripling its endowment.