WASHINGTON–President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton awarded the 1998 National Humanities Medal to Vartan Grigorian at a special ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House last Thursday. A White House dinner in honor of Gregorian and eight other receipients was also held that evening.
Gregorian–an educator and administrator–has had an exceptional career dedicated to creating a broadly educated and mutual understanding among all peoples.
Former president of Brown University (1989-1997) and the New York Public Library (1981-1989)–he is currently president of the Carnegie Corporation of new York–a general purpose philanthropy founded by Andrew Carnegie "for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," Author of "The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan" (1969)–he has been a professor of history at San Francisco State College–the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania. An administrator since 1969–he was founding dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and provost at the University of Pennsylvania (1974-1980). At Brown–he strengthened the research–teaching and public service activities–and tripled the institution’s endowment. At the Library–he was instrumental in reviving the system. Gregorian has been recognized by Change magazine as one of the most influential educators in the U.S. and by Who’s Who as one of the 50 great Americans. He is pro bono advisor to the Annengberg Foundation’s $500 million Challenge the Nation school reform initiative. His honors include Phi Beta Kappa–the American Academy and Institute of Arts and letters’ Gold Medal for Service to the Arts–the Pennsylvania Humanities Council’s First Human’st Award–Portugal’s Grand Oficial da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique–France’s Officer de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Silver Cultural Medal.
The other recipients of the National Humanities Medal are biographer of Eisenhower and Nixon Stephen H. Ambrose–author of many popular and critically acclaimed novels E.L. Doctrow–creator and director of the Harvard-based Pluralism project Diana L. Eck–founder and president of Motheread–Inc. Nancye Brown Gaj–director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research Henry Louis Gates–Jr.–scholar and professor of the history of Hispanic America Ramon Eduardo Ruiz–prolific scholar and professor of American History Arthur M. Schlesinger–Jr.–and syndicated columnist–essayist and cultural critic Garry Willis.
The national Humanities Medal–inaugurated in 1997–honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities–broadened our citizen’s engagement with the humanities–or helped preserve and expand American’s access to important humanities resources. Up to 12 medals can be awarded each year. The Medal succeeds the earlier Charles Frankel Prize in Humanities–given form 1989 through 1996.