Celebrating the Life of Vartan Gregorian

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum acknowledges the passing of Dr. Vartan Gregorian, a founding trustee of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the chair of the jury that selected the 9/11 Memorial & Museum design, and a lifelong advocate for education, philanthropy, and human freedom.

Gregorian, the President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, was recalled as a "mentor and friend" who was "generous of mind and spirit" by 9/11 Memorial & Museum President & CEO Alice M. Greenwald.

"He was, as I once introduced him, the very definition of a mensch," Greenwald said. "His legacy will live on in the design of the 9/11 Memorial—selected by the jury that deliberated under his insightful and inspired leadership. His philanthropy shone brightly in the twin beams of the Tribute in Light, whose presentation he was dedicated to supporting. And, his wisdom and guidance, shared generously at Board and Committee meetings and in informal conversations, helped shaped so many of the programs and exhibitions we have produced over the years."

For his years of service to higher education, philanthropy, and to New York City and the nation after the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Gregorian was honored with the Visionary Distinction at the 9/11 Memorial Museum Benefit Broadcast in 2020.

Upon Gregorian's passing, Michael R. Bloomberg recalled him as a good friend "whose passion for public service was matched only by his kindness and compassion for others, and his loving devotion to his family."

"After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he came to me and said that something had to be done to save the city’s arts and cultural organizations," Bloomberg said. "That was the beginning of a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Carnegie Foundation that would lead to many other collaborations, including—most recently—an effort he helped spearhead to support the city’s arts, cultural, and social service organizations during the pandemic. His leadership as chair of the 9/11 Memorial selection committee jury reflected his impeccable judgment, choosing a design that will forever stand as a powerful symbol of humanity’s capacity for heroism and hope, resilience, and rebirth."

Read the full statement of 9/11 Memorial & Museum President & CEO Alice M. Greenwald:

To say that Vartan was one of a kind is an understatement. He was generous of mind and spirit, caring and compassionate, brilliant and innovative. He was the best kind of leader—because he led with both pragmatism and heart. His impact was and will remain enormous—in the world of scholarship and higher education, philanthropy and culture. He was, as I once introduced him, the very definition of a mensch. His legacy will live on in the design of the 9/11 Memorial – selected by the jury that deliberated under his insightful and inspired leadership. His philanthropy shone brightly in the twin beams of the Tribute in Light, whose presentation he was dedicated to supporting. And, his wisdom and guidance, shared generously at Board and Committee meetings and in informal conversations, helped shaped so many of the programs and exhibitions we have produced over the years. I will always consider it a privilege to have known him, to have thought of him as both mentor and friend. May his memory always be a blessing.

Read the full statement of 9/11 Memorial & Museum Chairman Michael R. Bloomberg:

Vartan Gregorian was a towering intellect whose passion for public service was matched only by his kindness and compassion for others, and his loving devotion to his family. I was lucky to call him a good friend for three decades, and throughout that time I’ve benefitted enormously from his wisdom and advice. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he came to me and said that something had to be done to save the city’s arts and cultural organizations. That was the beginning of a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Carnegie Foundation that would lead to many other collaborations, including—most recently—an effort he helped spearhead to support the city’s arts, cultural, and social service organizations during the pandemic. His leadership as chair of the 9/11 Memorial selection committee jury reflected his impeccable judgment, choosing a design that will forever stand as a powerful symbol of humanity’s capacity for heroism and hope, resilience and rebirth. His incredible work to revive the New York Public Library would have been the achievement of a lifetime for anyone else. But Vartan never stopped taking on big and important new challenges that advanced the country he loved so much and the world he was determined to shape for the better. He was an eternal optimist who conceived big dreams, and a determined realist who found ways to bring them to life. I’m devastated by his death, but he leaves a legacy that will benefit and inspire generations to come.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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