Mellon Foundation honors Gray with grant for graduate researchersBy William Harms
Of the foundation’s grant, $3 million has been given to the University to establish an endowment supporting graduate student research. Additionally, the foundation gave $1.5 million in Gray’s honor to Bryn Mawr College.
William Bowen, president of the Mellon Foundation, said: “These two grants reflect the foundation’s continuing commitment to support the nation’s leading research universities and liberal arts colleges. They are intended to recognize and perpetuate the exacting standards that Dr. Gray exemplifies, while paying tribute to the extraordinary impact she has had on both recipient institutions, as well as on this foundation.”
The grant to the University will establish the Hanna Holborn Gray Advanced Graduate Fellowships in the Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences. The Gray Fellowships will support outstanding graduate students at the University during the later stages of their studies and will enable them to focus fully on dissertation research and writing. One fellowship will be awarded each year in the Division of the Humanities and another in departments within the Division of the Social Sciences that adopt a humanistic approach to scholarship.
“In honoring Hanna Gray in this way, the Mellon Foundation has very generously and very thoughtfully honored one of the most significant figures in American higher education,” said President Randel. “Support for graduate students and their programs has always been among her highest priorities, and it remains one of the highest priorities at this institution. The University is therefore extremely grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this grant and to Mrs. Gray for her distinguished service.”
The grant of $1.5 million to Bryn Mawr College will be used to create the Hanna Holborn Gray Undergraduate Research Program in the Humanities.
“The trustees of the foundation,” Bowen said, “are delighted to honor our distinguished colleague and friend, Hanna Gray, in this most appropriate way. Associating her name with these programs of support for outstanding graduate and undergraduate students in the humanities is a fitting recognition of her lifetime of service to these two outstanding institutions and to all of higher education.”
Gray is a historian with special interests in the history of humanism, political and historical thought, and politics during the Renaissance and the Reformation. She taught history at Chicago for more than 35 years, beginning in 1961, and served as President of the University from 1978 to 1993. She now is the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in History and the College.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, she received her A.B. degree from Bryn Mawr in 1950 and her Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1957. From 1950 to 1952, she was a Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University.
Gray taught at Bryn Mawr and at Harvard University during the mid-1950s through 1960. In 1961, she was appointed Assistant Professor in History at the University and became Associate Professor in 1964. She was appointed dean of the college of arts and sciences and professor of history at Northwestern University in 1972, followed by her election in 1974, as provost of Yale University. From 1977 to 1978, she also served as Yale’s acting president.
She has been a fellow of the Newberry Library and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and a Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar. She also is an honorary fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. In addition, Gray holds honorary degrees from more than 60 colleges and universities, including Oxford, Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Brown, Columbia, Princeton, Duke and the universities of Michigan and Toronto. She won the University’s Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1996, and in 1997, she received the M. Carey Thomas Award, Bryn Mawr College’s highest honor.
Gray was one of 12 distinguished foreign-born Americans to receive a Medal of Liberty Award from President Ronald Reagan in 1986, and in 1991, President George H. Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. She received both the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Jefferson Medal from the American Philosophical Society in 1993.