April 17, 2021

AGBU Reflects on the Illustrious Life of International Treasure Vartan Gregorian

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    Vartan Gregorian
    Vartan Gregorian

In the rarified worlds of academia, high society, philanthropy and the highest echelons of power and influence, the name Vartan Gregorian is associated with transformative leadership, scholarly brilliance, and a worldly intelligence that transcended economic class and social strata. He was a global citizen, an American icon, an enlightened educator, and a humanitarian with all the international awards, honorary doctorates, and national honors —including the Presidential Medal of Freedom— to prove it. 

But in the Armenian world, Gregorian is the embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of a people who found in his own trials and triumphs their own redemption. In this respect, to Armenians, he is a national treasure, leaving a legacy of exemplary leadership to inspire new generations of Armenians around the world. 

Always a proud Armenian, Gregorian's illustrious rise to fame was fueled by his own force of personality and passion for excellence whether as a foreign student at Stanford University, a prominent educator at University of Pennsylvania, and institutional leader, first as the savior of the New York Public Library when it was on brink of closing its doors due to financial hardships, then as the first foreign-born president of Brown University and, for the past quarter century, at the helm of the Carnegie Corporation. 

AGBU President Berge Setrakian remarked on the way Gregorian so easily negotiated his international celebrity with his Armenian identity. "He may have reached the pinnacle of professional and social success, but he enthusiastically volunteered to participate in Armenian community life, as a keynote speaker, guest panelist or esteemed advisor on any number of Armenian-related issues. He understood the power of his presence but used it with humility. His exuberant nature and confident bearing were, in themselves, a signal of hope and possibility to Armenians who had the privilege of being in his company. May the memory of Vartan Gregorian live on through his vast contributions to the Armenian people and all humanity.”

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