In Memoriam: Vartan Gregorian, Former Professor of History

Monday, April 19, 2021
Vartan Gregorian head shot
Photo courtesy of Carngie Corporation

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Vartan Gregorian, the ebullient Armenian immigrant who climbed to pinnacles of academic and philanthropic achievement but took a detour in the 1980s to restore a fading New York Public Library to its place at the heart of American intellectual life, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 87.

A Ford Foundation fellowship took Dr. Gregorian to England, France, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. He earned a dual doctorate in history and humanities from Stanford in 1964. He taught European and Middle Eastern history at San Francisco State College, UCLA and the University of Texas before joining the University of Pennsylvania in 1972.

It was in 1997 that Dr. Gregorian assumed the presidency of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote education and peace. After decades as a supplicant, raising $1 billion for universities and libraries, he became a benefactor, starting with an endowment of $1.5 billion that grew to $3.5 billion over his tenure.

His grants strengthened education, international security, democratic institutions and global development. Domestically, he emphasized reforms in teacher training and liberal arts education; abroad, he stressed scholarships for social sciences and humanities.