Vartan Gregorian


Vartan Gregorian : biography

April 8, 1934 –

President Gregorian’s tenure was marked by increased international prominence for Brown and a significant rise in demand for admission. Equally, the student body grew more diverse than ever. Gregorian informed the Brown community of his resignation on January 7, 1997, and he left Brown in September of that year to assume leadership of Carnegie Corporation of New York. He made and kept a promise to attend the commencement ceremony and shake hands with all undergraduate students who had matriculated during his presidency.


Gregorian was a major financial supporter of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and "was instrumental in securing the funding for a group led by Bill Ayers and Mike Klonsky, two sixties-era former radicals turned education reformers," as well as future President Barack Obama.

Awards and honors

The White House

Gregorian has also been decorated by the French, Italian, Austrian and Portuguese governments.

Gregorian is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters’ Gold Medal for Service to the Arts. In 2010, he received the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Leadership Award.

He has been honored by various cultural and professional associations, including the Urban League, the League of Women Voters, the Players Club, PEN-American Center, Literacy Volunteers of New York, the American Institute of Architects and the Charles A. Dana Foundation. He has been honored by the states of New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, and the cities of Fresno, Austin, New York, Providence and San Francisco.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. In 1969, he received the Danforth Foundation’s E.H. Harbison Distinguished Teaching Award.


Gregorian was twenty-two when he began his undergraduate education at Stanford in 1956. He developed an affinity for European history due to his relationship with his freshman mentor Wayne S. Vucinich, a historian of Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire. He completed his B.A. in history and humanities with honors in 1958; the topic of his thesis was "Toynbee and Islam."

While a student at Stanford, he again received provisions from Armenians who were strangers to him. He explains how this consistent benevolence reaffirmed his faith in the Armenian community in the diaspora and diaspora communities in general:

He would go on to receive his PhD in history and humanities from Stanford in 1964, writing a dissertation entitled "Traditionalism and Modernism in Islam." The topic of his dissertation was related to an ongoing research project which he began in 1961, after receiving a Ford Foundation fellowship which took him to England, France, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. These experiences and his related research formed the basis for his first book, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1840–1946 (1969, Stanford University Press).

Personal life

Gregorian’s son Dareh writes for the New York Daily News, and is married to Maggie Haberman, a reporter for Politico and the daughter of New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman.