Providence Athenaeum Honors Vartan and Clare Gregorian

In recognition of Vartan and Clare Gregorian’s lifetime of service as educators, and as humanitarian and philanthropic leaders, the Providence Athenaeum awarded them the Stephen Hopkins Philanthropic Award at the library’s 250th anniversary gala on April 27th, 2003. Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785), a native of Rhode Island, was one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Susan Kertzer, president, Board of Directors of the Providence Athenaeum, said at the event, “The Providence Athenaeum continues to play an important role in the cultural development of Providence, Rhode Island and the United States. We need only think of Stephen Hopkins, whose memory we honor with our philanthropic award tonight, to be inspired by the power of books and ideas in shaping the course of history, both local and national.” The Athenaeum is one of the oldest libraries in the nation and among the few institutions founded in pre-Revolutionary America that still exists. It houses more than 150,000 books, periodicals, DVDs and other materials.

Vartan Gregorian is the twelfth president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grantmaking institution founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1911. 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, with a focus on redesigning urban high schools and improving teacher education. Prior to his current position, which he assumed in June 1997, he served for nine years as the sixteenth president of Brown University. Before going to Brown, Gregorian served as the president of the New York Public Library, an institution with a network of four research libraries and eighty-three circulating libraries.

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, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan, Politics of Reform and Modernization1880-1946. He is also author of Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith (The Brookings Institution, 2003) and The Road to Home: My Life and Times (Simon and Schuster, 2003).

Clare Russell Gregorian, a graduate of Stanford University, where the Gregorians met, has been active in many literacy and community projects and in public library reform efforts. She was chair of development and vice president of the board of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island for many years and received the organization’s Gilman Angier Award. While she lived in Rhode Island, she was vice-president of the Board of the Providence Public Library and inaugurated the successful effort leading to the establishment of the first Rhode Island National Public Radio station, of which she is currently honorary board chair. She is the immediate past president of Literacy Partners, Inc., of New York City, and a member of the board of The New York 42nd Street Theater, Planned Parenthood of New York City and The New York Public Library’s Branch Library Council. In 1997, she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brown University.