In Memoriam: Vartan Gregorian, Phd

Vartan GregorianDear AAHPO Family,
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of†Vartan Gregorian, PhD, a giant in the Armenian community, a distinguished scholar and educator in the world.

Dr. Gregorian was president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, former president of Brown University and The New York Public Library, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was 87. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Gregorian never lost sight of his beloved Armenian community. As recently as 2020, he honored AAHPO directly by speaking at one of our virtual Town Hall meetings. AAHPO leaders have fond memories of Dr. Gregorian that reach back many decades.

“Dr. Gregorian was an impactful educator and philanthropist who attained the pinnacles of success and through those positions influenced and encouraged all of us to do our best to help our community. He was a great inspiration to all that knew him,” said AAHPO President Lawrence V. Najarian, MD. “I was a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania when he was the university’s Provost. No one in my family ever attended college. It was always with pride that I read about his activities in The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university’s newspaper. And then one day I met him by chance as we both walked on the sidewalk. He did not know me but he stopped and took the time to speak with me. It was an inspiring experience and showed me that Armenians can succeed in America.”

“Vartan Gregorian was a uniquely transformative friend of the Armenian community. While extending his reach to all corners of the educational and philanthropic world, Dr. Gregorian never forgot his Armenian roots and always came back to them. So universally admired, he reminded us all of how much we can all do, with vision, inspiration, and an untiring commitment to the task at hand,”said AAHPO Board Member John Bilezikian, MD, PhD. “In remembering Dr. Gregorian’s remarkable accomplishments, we appreciate what one person can do for the betterment of all. I will never forget his kindness to me. Everyone whom he touched loved him, without reservation: a man whose generosity of spirit was unmatched. Vartan, I miss you, already, very much.”

Read more about the life of Vartan Gregorian, PhD

Often described as a “citizen of the world”, Dr. Gregorian was born to Armenian parents in Tabriz, Iran. He attended elementary school in Tabriz and spent many hours in the Armenian library, a place of peace and solitude where he developed his deep love of reading. He received his secondary education at the College Armenian in Beirut, Lebanon, overcoming many obstacles in order to leave Iran. In Beirut, he added French and English to the five languages (Armenian, Persian, Russian, Turkish, and Arabic) in which he was proficient.

In 1956, Vartan Gregorian moved to California to attend Stanford University. At the urging of his advisor, he majored in history and the humanities, graduating with honors two years later. He was awarded a Ph from Stanford in 1964.

Years later when celebrating the university’s centennial, Dr. Gregorian gave a speech saying, “At Stanford I learned a fundamental lesson: that we cannot and must not lose our sense of history and our memory for they constitute our identity. We cannot be prisoners of the present and wander out of history. For a society without a deep historical memory, the future ceases to exist and the present becomes a meaningless cacophony.”