WASHINGTON–DC–(Combined Sources)–George W. Bush announced on Friday that Vartan Gregorian–president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York–will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom–the United State’s highest civil award. The award was established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their service during World War II–and it was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service.
"We are greatly pleased to see Vartan Gregorian’s years of public service and tremendous contributions to the field of education recognized by President Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Armenian Americans join today with Armenia’s around the world in honoring Dr. Gregorian’s scholarship and many achievemen’s in world of learning–his truly tireless leadership in the civic life of the United States–and–of course–his abiding devotion to his Armenian heritage."
Born in Tabriz–Iran–Gregorian received his elementary education in Iran and his secondary education in Lebanon. In 1956 he entered Stanford University–where he majored in history and the humanities–graduating with honors in 1958. He was awarded a PhD in history and humanities from Stanford in 1964.
A former university professor who has taught European and Middle Eastern history at San Francisco State College–the University of California at Los Angeles–and the University of Texas at Austin–Gregorian joined the University of Pennsylvania faculty in 1972 and was appointed Tarzian Professor of History and professor of South Asian history. He was founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and four years later became its twenty-third provost until 1981. That year–Gregorian assumed his position as president of the New York Public Library–an institution with a network of four research libraries and eighty-three circulating libraries. Prior to his current position with the Carnegie Corporation–which he assumed in June 1997–Gregorian served for nine years as the sixteenth president of Brown University following his appointment to the position in 1989.
The recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees–Gregorian was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1986 and the American Academy of the Institute of Arts and Letters’ Gold Medal for Service to the Arts in 1989. In 1998–President William Jefferson Clinton awarded him the National Humanities Medal.
Gregorian joins His Holiness Pope John Paul II–American entertainment icon Doris Day–entrepreneur Estee Lauder–famed golf champion Arnold Palmer and eight other distinguished men and women in receiving the prestigious award. Bush will honor the recipients at a White House ceremony on Wednesday–June 23.