Remembering Vartan Gregorian

Dr. Elizabeth Alexander on the Passing of Vartan Gregorian:

Today, we lost an extraordinary and beloved human being with the passing of Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian.

Vartan was both a steward and a champion of traditions in the best way, one who galvanized and brought together other thinkers and creators and embraced what was ahead.  He was a respected scholar whose boundless curiosity and deep interest in a vast range of ideas and knowledge shaped our culture and society across many different institutions and sectors, and he left an indelible imprint on the institutions he led.  At the New York Public Library, he was a joyful messenger of the profundity of books and their liberating power.  In the academy, as Provost at the University of Pennsylvania and President of Brown University, he fostered knowledge building and sharing and tolerance.  His fine scholarship was complemented by his autobiographical chronicle of his extraordinary life’s journey.  As President of the Carnegie Corporation—one of our leading American philanthropies—from 1997 until today, he remained, always, a citizen of the world, and served his institution and his peers with that vital and invigorating perspective.  He was a long-time and treasured friend to the Mellon Foundation.

Vartan was a venerated elder who reached across the generations to offer wisdom, to learn, and to bring people into a circle of belonging.  For countless people, he was ready to step forward with mentorship, humor, kindness, and cheer.  He was my welcoming and supportive colleague in philanthropy, and he was my true and much-loved friend.  I join the many who will miss him tremendously and are grateful that the legacy of his incredible life will always be with us. 

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