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Gregorian dies at 87

Vartan Gregorian served as University president from 1988 to 1997

University News Editor
Friday, April 16, 2021

Gregorian was the University's first foreign-born president.

Former University President Vartan Gregorian died April 15 at age 87.

Known for increasing diversity and growing the University’s endowment to over $1 billion during his tenure, Gregorian served as president of the University from 1988 to 1997. He was the University’s first foreign-born president.

Gregorian was born in Iran and attended school at College Armenien in Beirut before earning his PhD at Stanford University. With an academic background focused on European and Middle Eastern history, he began his career as a professor and went on to teach at San Francisco State College, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Texas at Austin.

Gregorian also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and eventually became provost before serving as head of the New York Public Library for seven years.

The University awarded him an honorary degree in 1984 in recognition of his work at the NYPL, and he was elected in 1988. During his tenure, he launched the President’s Lecture Series, oversaw the construction of Vartan Gregorian Quad Dormitories and raised more than $500 million dollars in a capital campaign.

Since retiring from his role at the University, Gregorian served as president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York until the time of his death.

Photo credit: Financial Times, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Ken Miller says:

    I loved this guy. A genuine renaissance man who had a clear vision of what higher education should be at its best – a unified commitment to learning, and not an atomized collections of isolated disciplines. He wasn’t big on administrative details during his Presidency at Brown, but he was an inspirational leader. Typically, after meeting me just once, he remembered everything – from my research area to the last book or paper I had just published to the courses I taught. Vartan Gregorian was that way with just about everyone. No matter who you were, he wanted to get to know you, and he wanted to recruit you for the grand project of making a university work. A life well lived, to be sure, and a blessing to this University.

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