Oral history interview with Vartan Gregorian, 2013


Gregorian, Vartan (Interviewee)
Clark, Mary Marshall (Interviewer)
Gavrilis, George (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Vartan Gregorian, 2013
In this ten session interview, Vartan Gregorian provides a wide-ranging reflection on his personal and professional backgrounds, his priorities leading the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), and the underlying philosophies that have informed his work. Many topics recur in different contexts across interview sessions. Gregorian discusses his youth in detail, including: his early life in the A rmenian Quarter of Tabriz, Iran; his family and the influence of his grandmother; his move to Beirut, Lebanon; and his love of poetry. He discusses his education and his undergrad years at Stanford University, with a focus on his studies and cultural differences he observed between the United States and Armenia. He discusses meeting his wife Clare Gregorian, their life as a young couple, and their travels together. Gregorian describes his professional life before becoming president of CCNY. He discusses being a professor at San Francisco State University in the 1960s, and looks at the campus political climate and his teaching style. He discusses his roles at the University of Texas, Austin and as dean at the University of Pennsylvania. He also discusses his work as president of New York Public Library, detailing the library's administration, fundraising, and programming with New York City's public schools. He also describes his time as president of Brown and controversial events on campus during his tenure. Gregorian also reflects on his time at CCNY. Some topics covered are: the corporate culture of CCNY; CCNY's global outlook; funding; Gregorian's grantmaking philosophy; and changes that he implemented in Board of Trustee operations. He also discusses initiatives of the Corporation during his tenure including higher education in Africa; the Carnegie Scholars and study of Islam; higher education in Russia and former Soviet Union; elections reform; and partnerships in journalism, civics, and citizenship. Gregorian also discusses Afghanistan in great detail. He analyzes his PhD work and monograph on the country; his travels there; the country's history; the United States' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and Carnegie projects in Afghanistan. In additon, Gregorian elaborates on broader historical, literary, and philosophical topics. These include his personal thoughts on learning and respect; the history of Armenia and the Armenian diaspora; his research on the Soviet Union and travels there; his autobiography; the role of Islam in the world; nationalism; the effects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; and the history of US foreign policy.
Collection Name
Carnegie Corporation project. Part 3
Armenians--Iran; Executives; Endowments--Management; Charities--Management; Universities and colleges--Administration; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001; Afghanistan History; Gregorian, Vartan; Carnegie Corporation of New York; New York Public Library History; Brown University; University of Pennsylvania; San Francisco State University; Stanford University Students
oral histories
Physical Description
390 pages; 10 digital audio files; 10 digital video files
Note (Biographical)
President, Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Interviewed by Mary Marshall Clark on March 5, March 26, April 10, May 30, and July 19, 2012 and January 28, February 25, March 25, and May 20, 2013. Interviewed by George Gavrilis on April 11, 2013.
Note (Provenance)
Vartan Gregorian, Gift 2015
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
Browse Location’s Digital Content
Catalog Record
Also In
Carnegie Corporation Oral History Project [Staging]
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Persistent URL
Related URLs
Available digital content for this interview.