Vartan Gregorian Wins Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal

Citing his "staunch defense of the tradition of service to the common good," the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill awarded President Vartan Gregorian one of its four 1999 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medals.

The awards are bestowed annually on people whose lives embody the humanitarian spirit of the former first lady and whose work has contributed to human rights, racial equality, philanthropy and the arts. The 12th year the awards have been bestowed, this year's ceremony reflected a theme from Mrs. Roosevelt's book, You Learn By Living, published two years before her death, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

In making the presentation, Frances D. Fergusson, President of Vassar College, said of Dr. Gregorian: "Vartan Gregorian's life is an international tale of great accomplishment, of assessing and then leaping in fast forward over the barriers that have stood in his way or in the way of the institutions and causes to which he has committed his time and energy. Born in Tabriz, Iran of Armenian parents, Vartan received his education in Iran, Lebanon, and Stanford in California."

Joining Dr. Gregorian as 1999 awardees were Johnnetta B. Cole, presidential professor at Emory University and president emerita of Spelman College; Hannah C. Pakula, a biographer and human rights advocate; Martha Settle Putney, a former professor at Howard University; and H. Peter Stern, chairman and president of the Storm King Art Center.

Dr. Gregorian was recognized for his work as a scholar, as the founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, for his "remarkable tenure" at the New York Public Library, as President of Brown University, and for his leadership here at the Carnegie Corporation. "Vartan Gregorian's warmth, affability, generosity of spirit and genuine concern for others would have made him a true friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. It is a pity they never met. But they remain kindred spirits," said President Fergusson.