Vartan Gregorian Accepts Award for Commitment to Higher Education in Africa

Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, was recognized today by the Africa-America Institute (AAI) for his steadfast commitment to strengthening higher education in Africa. The Institute's Chairman Kofi Appenteng presented the Award for Leadership in Higher Education Philanthropy to Gregorian at the AAI's 25th Annual Awards Gala. 

The Institute also recognized the people of Ghana with its Award for African National Achievement accepted on behalf of the country by John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana. Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of De Beers, received the AAI's Award for Championing Corporate Social Responsibility.

Commenting on Dr. Gregorian's dedication to strengthening Africa's institutions of higher education so that they can better contribute to poverty reduction, economic growth and social development in their respective countries, Kofi Appenteng said, "No other leader of philanthropy is more demonstrably committed to strengthening African higher education than Vartan Gregorian."

"By investing in higher education, we are helping to nurture a rising generation of women and men who will contribute to the continued development of democracy and civil society on the African continent," said Gregorian. "While Africa's challenges are complex and manifold, the knowledge and innovation within its universities are more than equal to the task of addressing those challenges, on Africa's terms."

Upon assuming the presidency of Carnegie Corporation in 1997, Vartan Gregorian established a program to expand and improve university education in Sub-Saharan Africa. One of the program's signature initiatives has been a 10-year commitment, launched in 2000 with the support of three other U.S. foundations, to invest in Africa's higher education institutions and to encourage others to make African higher education an important part of their funding strategies. Initially supported by Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller, Ford, and MacArthur foundations, the members of the Partnership to Strengthen African Universities grew to seven with the addition of the Hewlett, Mellon and Kresge foundations. Also under Gregorian's leadership, the foundation has supported undergraduate scholarships for women, a program that has reached more than 5,000 students in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria through various types of fellowship opportunities.

Africa has been an important focus of Carnegie Corporation since the foundation initiated work on the continent in the 1920s. Working with local organizations in former Commonwealth countries, the Corporation established and has adhered to a strategy of harnessing local scholarship and innovation--or building those skills where they were scarce--to address the challenges of economic and social development. These fundamental principles remain central to Carnegie Corporation's grantmaking in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Corporation's first Africa grant was made in Kenya in 1925 to set up a school to train rural educators. The school was among the first in Africa to be established primarily for the training of teachers in rural areas. Other early grants provided support for scientific research, public and academic library development, encouragement of adult education, opportunities for technical education for students, and financing of visits to and from Africa by leaders in the education field.

In more than 80 years of Africa grantmaking in Sub-Saharan Africa, program themes have changed and geographic focus has shifted in response to regional demands. Yet the Corporation has been stalwart in its commitment to the mission introduced by Andrew Carnegie: to strengthen access to knowledge and the application of that knowledge by building self-reliant individuals and institutions able to fully participate in the development of their country and their region.

The Africa-America Institute was founded in 1953 to promote enlightened engagement between Africa and America through education training and dialogue.