The University of Chicago Honors Its Former President, Hanna Holborn Gray

The University of Chicago will rename the Special Collections Research Center — the principal steward of the library’s rare books, manuscripts, and the University Archives — in honor of Hanna Holborn Gray, the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History and President Emeritus of the University. Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago made the announcement at the conclusion of a daylong university event, held in recognition of Professor Gray’s 90th birthday.

Dr. Gray served as university president from 1978 to 1993 and has been part of the University of Chicago community for nearly 60 years.

“My happiest hours of scholarly investigation have been spent in the archives and the rare book and manuscript reading rooms of great libraries,” Dr. Gray said. “It is an enormous honor to have my name linked to our library’s Special Collections Research Center and the exceptional treasures it makes accessible to scholars throughout the world. I could not be more grateful.”

Dr. Gray is the daughter of a prominent professor of European history, Hajo Holborn, who after seeking exile from Nazi Germany taught at Yale for 35 years. Her mother, Annemarie Bettmann, held a Ph.D. in classical philology. She enrolled at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania at the age of 15, and upon graduation traveled to the University of Oxford as a Fulbright scholar. After receiving her Ph.D. degree from Harvard in 1957, she taught there for several more years, being promoted to assistant professor in 1959. Dr. Gray joined the faculty of the history department at the University of Chicago in 1961 and was awarded tenure three years later.

Dr. Gray served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University and provost and professor of history at Yale University before returning to the University of Chicago as president in 1978. She holds honorary degrees from over 60 colleges and universities.

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  1. Tom Brady says:

    Wonderful! Hanna Holborn Gray was my Doctor Mutter.

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