Vartan Gregorian awarded honorary degree by Juilliard

ON MAY 19, 2000, VARTAN GREGORIAN, PRESIDENT OF CARNEGIE CORPORATION OF NEW YORK, WAS AWARDED THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF HUMANE LETTERS BY THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL IN NEW YORK CITY. BELOW IS THE TEXT OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT

Vartan Gregorian

"If you ask what is the good of education," said Plato, "the answer is easy—that education makes good people, and that good people act nobly, and conquer their enemies in battle because they are good."

In a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, you have held many positions: professor, academic administrator, historian, author, university president, foundation executive, consultant, president of the largest public library in the world. But while your titles have been many, your vocation has remained singular. You are a teacher to the core. Passionate in your conviction that knowledge is freedom, you have helped generations of students to become better individuals and led the charge to make our world a more civilized place.

You were born in Iran, of Armenian parents. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, you went on to teach European, Middle Eastern and South Asian history at major universities in California and Texas before alighting at the University of Pennsylvania.

There, as a professor of history, founding dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and later as provost, you brought a renewed spirit of intellectual vigor and gained a reputation for inspired leadership. Not confined to the notion that education takes place only on campus, you left Penn for a much more diverse classroom: New York City, where in 1981 you took the helm of the New York Public Library. To those of us in the five boroughs, you were the embodiment of the library’s attributes: curiosity, exuberance, optimism and love of learning. Your contagious enthusiasm for all things, your stalwart belief in education as a democratic ideal and your particular powers of persuasion helped you to reinvigorate a great, but financially needy institution. In doing so, you restored the statue of public libraries throughout the United States.

With your dedication to teaching and to students, the invitation to become President of Brown University in 1989 was irresistible. At Brown, you made higher standards in the selection of students and faculty a priority. You tripled the size of its endowment, renovated historic buildings, instilled in students a sense of the importance of reaching out to the community and made a number of educational reforms to help the university as it entered the 21st century.

Now President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the largest grant-making foundations in the United States, you remain a tireless advocate for educational and cultural organizations throughout the country and around the world. A teacher to this day you also continue to counsel some of the nation’s most successful citizens on the joys and responsibilities of philanthropy.

You have been the recipient of numerous fellowships and honors—among them, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters’ Gold Medal for Service to the Arts and, in 1998, the National Humanities Medal.

In recognition of your leadership in education and philanthropy, the Juilliard School honors itself as it awards you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.