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Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian Receives Legion Of Honor, France’s Highest Award

New York, February 10, 2017— 12th President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Vartan Gregorian was awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor by French Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud on Thursday, February 9th, in New York. Gregorian received this distinction in recognition of his life-long effort to promote Franco-American cultural exchange and cooperation.  The Legion of Honor was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte and is France’s highest award. It is a Presidential award that honors those individuals who have distinguished themselves through their outstanding achievements either on behalf of France or in support of its ideals. Originally from Tabris, Iran, Gregorian completed his high school education in Beirut at the CollègeArménien, where he learned French, and went on to graduate in two years with honors from Stanford University. He completed a doctoral degree in 1964 with a thesis on traditionalism and modernism in Islam. Since 1964, he has received honoriscausa doctorate degrees from 70 universities around the world and taught at 4 universities, including the University of California in Los Angeles and the University of Pennsylvania. As President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York since 1997, Vartan Gregorian has drawn from his living and teaching all around the world to promote cross-cultural and community exchanges by providing funding for public schoolsin New York and abroad. International peace and security through understanding and knowledge is central to Gregorian’s vision for the Corporation. It is in the spirit of this philosophy that Gregorian has closely collaborated with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on their “bilingualrevolution,”a dual language program meant to fund and provide bilingual education to public schools in New York.  Before becoming President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1997, Vartan Gregorian held a number of posts in academic and cultural institutions. As President of the New York Public Library between 1981 and 1989, he promoted bilateral cultural exchanges between France and the United States in the form of celebrations such as that of the Statue of Liberty centennial in 1986, and exhibitions such as “Revolution in Print: The Press in France 1775-1800,” honoring the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989. In response to these efforts to deepen the cultural conversation between France and the United State, Gregorian was made Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1986.  Between 1989 and 1997, Gregorian raised more than 534 million dollars in his capacity as President of Brown University, and established the school as one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. During his time there, Gregorian made French literature and thought a hallmark of higher education by organizing seminars and colloquiums around the works of authoritative French figures such as Tocqueville, whose De la Démocratie en Amériqueis a favorite of his.  “Vartan Gregorian is a visionary and a living example of the modern man of letters, for whom education and knowledge is the key to opportunity and peace” said French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud. “It is through cultural exchanges and by opening new pathways of cooperation that we promote understanding in the world. Vartan Gregorian has been a true partner in our advancement of dual language education in public schools. His love for the French language and culture has been a pleasure to discover.”  The Order of the Legion of Honor is the highest award bestowed by the French government. Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte to recognize outstanding achievement in the military as well as in the public and private sectors, the award recognizes those who have rendered over twenty years of eminent service to France.The Order is made up of three ranks — chevalier, officier, commandeur — and two high offices (“dignités”) — grand officier, and grand croix. Recipients are named by decree signed by the President of the Republic. The Legion of Honor may be awarded to foreign citizens, though such recognition is relatively rare. American honorees include John Ashbery, Renée Fleming, Barbra Streisand, and Elie Wiesel, as well as hundreds of World War II veterans. The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, educational and university programs to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop, Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts. ###Media Contact: Camille Desprez, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, camille.desprez@diplomatie.gouv.fr, +1.212.439.1417