Hanna Gray


Member Since: 1984

Hanna Holborn Gray was President of the University of Chicago from July 1, 1978 through June 30, 1993 and is now President Emeritus. Mrs. Gray is a historian with special interests in the history of humanism, political and historical thought, church history, and politics in the Renaissance and the Reformation. She taught history at the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1972 and again from 1993 and is now the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor of History Emeritus in the University of Chicago’s Department of History. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, she received her B.A. degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1950, then held a Fulbright scholarship at Oxford, and took her Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1957. Mrs. Gray was an instructor at Bryn Mawr College in 1953-54 and taught at Harvard from 1955 to 1960, returning as a Visiting Lecturer in 1963-64. In 1961, she became a member of the University of Chicago’s faculty. Mrs. Gray was appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of History at Northwestern University in 1971. In 1974, she was elected Provost of Yale University with an appointment as Professor of History. From 1977 to 1978, she also served as President of Yale. She has been a Fellow of the Newberry Library, a Fellow of the Center of Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a Visiting Scholar at that center, a Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley and at Harvard University, and a Visiting Scholar for Phi Beta Kappa. She is also an Honorary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. Mrs. Gray is a member of the Renaissance Society of America, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education, and the Council on Foreign Relations of New York. She has served on the governing boards of many not-for profit institutions, including the Harvard University Corporation, the Yale University Corporation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Chairman), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Chairman), the Smithsonian Institution, and Bryn Mawr College (Chairman). Mrs. Gray was one of twelve distinguished foreign-born Americans to receive a Medal of Liberty award at ceremonies marking the rekindling of the Statue of Liberty’s lamp in 1986. In 1991, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Among a number of other awards she has received the Jefferson Medal of the American Philosophical Society, the National Humanities Award in 1993, and, in 1996, the University of Chicago’s Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Mrs. Gray is the author of Searching for Utopia: Universities and their Histories, published in 2011, as well as a number of publications on Renaissance history and on higher education. Her most recent book is An Academic Life, published in the spring of 2018.

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