Today's newspapers carry obituaries of Vartan Gregorian, who in the course of a long career was provost of the University of Pennsylvania, president and chief director of the New York Public Library, president of Brown University, and president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Gregorian was born into an Armenian family in the north of Iran. He left Iran at the age of fifteen for an Armenian school in Beirut, then studied at Stanford, where he earned his degrees.
Gregorian is said to have rescued the New York Public Library from bad condition, through skillful direction and energetic fundraising. He would not have been available for the job had he been appointed, as he had reason to think he would, as president of the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2003, he wrote an engaging memoir, The Road to Home: My Life and Times. This is another memoir that I lent out and never got back, so I can't check my memory. But the portion before his arrival at the library was fascinating for its picture of childhood and education in Iran and Lebanon, then the world of the American academy and academic politics. The portion dealing with the library included a lot of important and celebrated names: I suppose that this was only fair, since the owners of those names helped build back the finances of the library.