Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed May 28, 1997
Contact: Mark Nickel

Commencement 1997

Clare Russell Gregorian receives Doctor of Humane Letters degree

In a very well-kept Commencement secret, the Board of Fellows of Brown University approved an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Clare Russell Gregorian and conferred it during Brown's 229th Commencement exercises.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- As part of a very well-kept Commencement secret, Senior Fellow and former Brown University Chancellor Charles C. Tillinghast Jr. conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Clare Russell Gregorian. Tillinghast conferred the degree before thousands of new graduates, parents and alumni during Brown's 229th Commencement exercises Monday, May 26, 1997, on The College Green.

Called to the stage by Tillinghast after her husband - Brown President Vartan Gregorian - had finished conferring 10 honorary degrees, Mrs. Gregorian was handed a cap and gown before climbing the steps. Tillinghast read a citation in English and Latin, praising her work on behalf of Brown and Rhode Island, and the Commencement audience responded with a standing ovation.

The presentation took both Gregorians completely by surprise - no mean feat, since Brown's charter makes the president a member of the Board of Fellows, which awards all honorary degrees. "Congratulations, Dr. Gregorian," the president said as he regained the podium from Tillinghast and his wife was ushered to a seat on the stage with the other honorary degree recipients.

Clare Russell Gregorian is a 1959 graduate of Stanford University, where the Gregorians met. They were married in 1960. The decades since have found them living in California, Lebanon, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and Providence and traveling throughout the world. In addition to sharing the workload of her husband's senior appointments at three major institutions (University of Pennsylvania, New York Public Library, Brown University), Mrs. Gregorian has been active in literacy projects, public libraries and Planned Parenthood. She is currently chair of development and vice president of the board of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island and recently received that organization's Gilman Angier Award. The Gregorians have three sons: Vahé, a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Raffi, a security analyst in Washington, D.C.; and Dareh, a reporter with The New York Post.

Clare Russell Gregorian
Doctor of Humane Letters

Atop the Rhode Island Capitol stands an historic state symbol known as the Independent Man. And for the last nine years there has also been in this state a wonderful and contributing Independent Woman. For you have brought an untiring commitment to your role as the First Lady of Brown, and your support for the First Man of Brown has been critical to all that he has done for our University. With graciousness and warmth you have hosted hundreds of events at your home, on campus and around our nation. As they have left Brown, thousands of seniors and their parents have passed though the yard you have lovingly restored. On top of all this, a generous spirit of expertise, unrelenting commitment and absolute candor have marked your efforts for such community projects as the Providence Public Library and Planned Parenthood, among others. These have reflected the intellectual vitality you have shared with all who have known you at Brown or elsewhere. Each First Lady brings her own style to this sometimes thankless and demanding role. Yours has combined taste, intelligence, realism and friendship in the things that matter to a great University. You, too, have met the challenges of the Brown charter, and we are proud this day officially to welcome you to the Brown family.

Quamquam sui potens, prima femina brunensis, gratia et humanitate praeditissima, praesidem et Providentiam adiuvisti, quare hodie in familiam brunensem te laete accipimus, auctoritate mihi commissa te ad gradum in Litteris Humanioribus Doctoris admitto, omniaque jura atque privilegia ad hunc pertinentia tibi concedo. In huius testimonium hoc diploma tibi laetissime trado.