Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, awarded 2004 Presidential Medal of Freedom


Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, has been chosen as one of thirteen 2004 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award. Established in 1945 by President Harry Truman, the award is given each year to distinguished leaders for service in a range of disciplines. In the White House announcement, Gregorian is recognized as a scholar and historian, and for his work in revitalizing the New York Public Library and for his years of service as a professor and leader at six universities in the United States as well as his philanthropic endeavors.

“It is a great tribute to Vartan who is a teacher’s teacher, a scholar’s scholar and a philanthropist’s philanthropist,” said Helene Kaplan, chairman of the board of trustees at Carnegie Corporation. “To be recognized for a lifetime’s work can be daunting, but what we on the Corporation’s board know only too clearly, is that no honor will slow down the vitality and creativity of Vartan. He has taken the subjects and skills he has mastered at each job and brought them to the foundation in a way that has made the Corporation a powerhouse of ideas and possibilities. It is wonderful to see the White House recognize his life’s work and his continuing contributions.”

“This is wonderful choice by President Bush,” said Governor Thomas Kean, immediate past chair of the Corporation’s board of trustees. “It reveals a deep respect for the role of a scholar in public life and recognizes the great importance of both universities and libraries to America. Vartan has been honored by both the academic and library community many times, and this Medal of Freedom honors not only Vartan personally, but also, both communities whose work is vital to our nation.”

Gregorian was named the president of Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1997 and joined as the eleventh president after serving for nine years at president of Brown University. As president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library before that, Gregorian is credited with returning the fabled city institution to its international esteem and grandeur. Gregorian is an historian who began his teaching career after graduating from Stanford University. He has taught at San Francisco State, Stanford, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angelese, and University of Texas at Austin. University of Pennsylvania, New York University and The New School for Social Research. It was at the University of Pennsylvania that Gregorian rose in the ranks of academic leadership, first as the founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, later accepting the job of provost.

Gregorian’s book on Afghanistan, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization 1880-1946is considered a classic about the history of that country. Recently he authored Islam: A Mosaic Not a Monolith and his autobiography The Road to Home. He has won numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the highest award of the American Library Association, its honorary membership.

Gregorian is the third president of Carnegie Corporation of New York to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. John Gardner was awarded the medal in 1964 and David Hamburg in 1995.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world."

The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, hada market value of $1.8 billion on September 30, 2003. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $80 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.