Inyathelo remembers Vartan Gregorian

The Carnegie Corporation of New York has been a major American philanthropic supporter of higher education in Africa for over two decades and has enjoyed a long relationship with institutions of learning in Cape Town, and of course Inyathelo.

Inyathelo remembers Vartan Gregorian

It is accordingly with great sadness, but also respect and gratitude, that Inyathelo remembers Vartan Gregorian, the long-time head of the Carnegie Corporation, who died on 15 April at the age of 87. Born in northern Iran, Vartan was an American immigrant who rose to become a highly respected and charismatic scholar and educator. As a fundraiser with Carnegie he mobilised millions of dollars for causes that included assisting immigrants, improving education of girls, and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.

The Carnegie Corporation was among several organisations that launched the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa in 2000. Together they contributed more than $150 million to build capacity and to support special initiatives in an initial six countries.

Thanks to Carnegie, Cape Town was able to revitalise its Central Library, bringing affordable computing to the public, vastly expanding its range of books, and hosting jazz festivals, opera, art exhibitions, fashion shows and book launches. The Corporation also co-funded, with local and international agencies, two model libraries in Khayelitsha.

The Case handbook was a product of a two year programme of Advancement training for African universities funded by the Carnegie Corporation. This handbook explored the progress played by educational institutions in the context of Advancement, budgetary pressures, alumni programmes and institutional support.

Carnegie was Inyathelo’s first programme funding partner for the training of its university grantees in South Africa. From there, Carnegie partnered with Inyathelo on specific training for women in fundraising in African universities and later towards Advancement and development research in higher education.

Vartan’s great friend Richard Stengel, a former editor of Time magazine, wrote in an affectionate tribute: “He believed devoutly in learning and scholarship not because it made you smarter, but because it could make you a better human being.” He also advised those working in philanthropy to “never be sheepish or embarrassed when you are asking for money from a foundation or a philanthropist…they should be getting down on their hands and knees to thank you for giving them the opportunity to support something important.”

Read more about this great man in the Time tribute: https://time.com/5955976/vartan-gregorian/