UNIVERSAL CITY–Educator–academician and the president of the Carnegie Corporation Dr. Vartan Gregorian was honored by the Armenian Cultural Foundation and more than $50,000 was raised for the Hamazkayin Nshan Palandjian Jemaran in Beirut during a banquet Friday evening at the Universal City Hilton–which attracted more than 500 Jemaran alumni–ACF supporters and community members.
One of the most luminary figures in modern-day academic and philanthropic circles–Dr. Gregorian–who at the onset of his brief remarks stated that his alma mater–the Jemaran–was the reason that he accepted the invitation to the gathering–outlined the important role that institution has played in educating and developing generations of successful Armenia’s.
Gregorian–who as an orphaned young boy went to Lebanon from Tabriz–Iran and studied under the likes of Simon Vratsian–the last prime minister of the 1918 Republic of Armenia–fast rose to prominence in the United States and became one of the most influential figures in education and academia.
After graduating from the Nshan Palandjian Jemaran–he attended Stanford University from where he received his Bachelor and Ph. D. degrees in history. After occupying several academic positions at various universities–he was named dean and provost at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1984 he was named president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library–the largest in the US–after which he successfully presided over one of the most influential Ivy League universities–Brown in Providence–RI. Last year he assumed the post of president of the Carnegie Corporation.
Gregorian’s message was one of preserving and elevating education–and encouraging communities to foster a better understanding toward the advancement of education.
He modestly described his rise to prominence–graciously remembering the individuals and institutions that were instrumental in his life. He also discussed the emergence of the Armenian republic and the progression of Diasporan communities–always emphasizing the important role education has played in the development of those realities.
"We cherish our divisions [in the community]–but I hope that we can cherish our common ground," stated Gregorian–who urged all to look for the commonalties which bring all Armenia’s together.
In conclusion–he praised all educators and individuals who have devoted their life to education–academia and cultural preservation.
Gregorian was awarded a momento by Seta Mardirossian–on behalf of the Nshan Palandjian Jemaran Alumni Association. In her remarks–Mardirossian praised Gregorian for his continued support of the Beirut-based academy and also presented him with a photograph of the school.
Gregorian was introduced as "one of the most influential individuals in the US and the world," by fellow academicians and Jemaran alumnus Professor Richard Hovannisian–who recounted their days in the then fledgling school.
Through anecdotal recollections and factual information Hovannisian provided a well-rounded description of the honoree and outlined the important role the Jemaran had played in Gregorian’s life as a stepping stone to academic success.
Hovannisian also praised Gregorian’s prowess as a communicator and his ability to endear all individuals–be they influential figures in social and financial circles–or members of the academic and cultural community.
Also speaking about Gregorian’s contribution to the field of education was Alice Petrossian–Assistant Superintendent at the Glendale Unified School District.
Petrossian called Gregorian one of the pioneers in the advancement of Kindergarten through grade 12 education in the country.
She also recalled that Gregorian had an elementary school named after him in Rhode Island and while most schools were named after US presidents and other officials–Gregorian was of the few individuals in the country to have the distinction of lending his name to a school.
"You are a role model for all of us," remarked Petrossian who praised Gregorian’s numerous accomplishmen’s–including being named among the top 10 people one might invite to a dinner party by Town and Country magazine.
The evening’s program commenced by welcoming remarks by banquet committee co-chairperson Mina Shirvanian who outlined the importance of the banquet and the privilege of honoring Dr. Gregorian. She invited Master of Ceremonies Dr. Sahag Baghdassarian–a fellow Jemaran alumnus who read a congratulatory letter from current Jemaran principal Hratch Dasnabedian.
Baghdassarian also stated–at the conclusion of the program–that more than $50,000 was raised for Jemaran and announced a $10,000 by Dr. Gregorian to that educational institution.
The committee had also received a congratulatory note from Armenia’s Minister of Culture Roland Sharoyan–who had praised Gregorian’s achievemen’s.
The invocation was presented by Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian while the benediction was said by Western Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian.
Also present at the banquet were Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian and his wife Yevgeni; Retired California Supreme Court Justice Armand Arabian; Judge Dikran Tevrizian; Superintendent of the Glendale Unified School District Jim Brown and the president of the Getty Trust Barry Munitz.
Arpine and Elsie Pehlivanian–both Jemaran Alumnae–performed during the program. They were accompanied on the piano by Armen Aharonian. Hovig Krikorian also performed the national anthems of Armenia and the United States.