Photo of Hanna Holborn Gray
Hanna Holborn Gray Prof. Gray has retired and no longer directs BA theses or accepts new graduate students. Office: The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street, Mailbox 109
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: Email
Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of History, President of the University of Chicago (1978–1993)

Prof. Gray has retired and no longer directs BA theses or accepts new graduate students.

Harvard University, PhD '57


Hanna Holborn Gray Mrs. Gray is a historian with special interests in the history of humanism,  political and historical thought, and church history and politics in the Renaissance and the Reformation. She was president of the University of Chicago from July 1, 1978, through June 30, 1993.

Mrs. Gray is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Renaissance Society of America, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education, and the Council on Foreign Relations of New York. She holds honorary degrees from over sixty colleges and universities, including Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, Michigan, Oxford, Princeton, Rockefeller, Toronto, and Yale.

Mrs. Gray currently serves as a trustee of the Newberry Library, the Marlboro School of Music, the Dan David Prize, and several other nonprofit institutions. She has served on the boards of Bryn Mawr College, Harvard University, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and Yale University, and among others.

Mrs. Gray was one of twelve distinguished foreign-born Americans to receive the Medal of Liberty from President Reagan 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, from President Bush. Among a number of other awards she has received the Jefferson Medal of the American Philosophical Society and the National Humanities Award in 1993. In 1996 Mrs. Gray received the University of Chicago's Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and in 2006 the Newberry Library Award. In 2008 she received the Chicago History Maker Award of the Chicago History Museum.

Mrs. Gray’s most recent publications are Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011) and An Academic Life: A Memoir (Princeton, 2018).


Curriculum Vitae



October 25, 1930, Heidelberg, Germany


Charles M. Gray (1928–2011)
AB'59 Harvard University
PhD'56 Harvard University


BA'50 Bryn Mawr College
Fulbright Scholarship, Oxford University (1950–51)
PhD'57 Harvard University

Academic and Administrative Appointments

  • 1953–54 Instructor, Bryn Mawr College

  • 1955–57 Teaching Fellow, Harvard University

  • 1957–59 Instructor, Harvard University

  • 1959–60 Assistant Professor, Harvard University; Head Tutor, Committee on Degrees in History and Literature

  • 1961–64 Assistant Professor, University of Chicago

  • 1963–64 Visiting Lecturer, Harvard University

  • 1964–72 Associate Professor, University of Chicago

  • 1970–71 Visiting Professor, University of California at Berkeley

  • 1972–74 Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of History, Northwestern University

  • 1974–78 Provost, Yale University; Professor of History

  • 1977–78 President, Yale University

  • 1978–93 President of the University of Chicago

  • 1993–2000 Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor of History, Department of History, University of Chicago

Fellowships, etc.

  • 1960–61 Fellow, Newberry Library

  • 1966–67 Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

  • 1970–71 Visiting Scholar, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

  • 1971–72 Visiting Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa

  • 1978– Honorary Fellow, St. Anne’s College, Oxford University

Current Trusteeships (nonprofit boards)

  • The Newberry Library

  • Marlboro School of Music

  • Emeriti Retirement Health Solutions

  • Dan David Prize

Former Boards (selected)

  • Ameritech

  • Atlantic Richfield Corporation

  • Bryn Mawr College Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

  • The Cummins Company

  • The University of Chicago

  • Council on Foreign Relations

  • Harvard University Corporation

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute

  • J.P. Morgan and Company/Morgan Guaranty Trust Co.

  • Mayo Foundation

  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

  • National Council on the Humanities

  • National Humanities Center          

  • Pulitzer Prize Board          

  • Smithsonian Institution, Board of Regents

  • Yale University Corporation

Selected Honors, Awards, etc.

  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • Member, American Philosophical Society

  • Member, National Academy of Education

  • Phi Beta Kappa

  • Radcliffe Graduate Medal (1976)

  • Yale Medal (1978)

  • Medal of Liberty (1986)

  • Laureate, Lincoln Academy of Illinois (1989)

  • Grosse Verdienstkreuz, Republic of Germany (1990)

  • Sara Lee Frontrunner Award (1991)

  • National Medal of Freedom (1991)

  • Jefferson Medal, American Philosophical Society (1993)

  • National Humanities Medal (1993)

  • Centennial Medal, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (1994)

  • Distinguished Service Award, International Institute of Education (1994)

  • Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, The University of Chicago (1996)

  • M. Carey Thomas Award, Bryn Mawr College (1997)

  • Medal of Distinction, Barnard College (2000)

  • Fritz Redlich Distinguished Alumni Award, International Institute of Education (2004)

  • Newberry Library Award (2006)

  • Gold Medal, National Institute of Social Sciences (2006)          

  • Chicago History Maker Award, Chicago History Museum (2008)

Selected Honorary Degrees

  • LLD 1978 Dartmouth College

  • LLD 1978 Yale University

  • LLD 1979 Brown University

  • DLitt Hum 1979 Oxford University

  • LLD 1980 University of Notre Dame

  • LLD 1980 University of Southern California

  • LLD 1981 University of Michigan

  • LHD 1982 Duke University

  • LLD 1982 Princeton University

  • LHD 1983 Brandeis University

  • LLD 1983 Georgetown University

  • DLitt 1985 Washington University

  • LHD 1995 City University of New York

  • LLD 1987 Columbia University

  • LHD1988 New York University

  • LLD 1991 University of Toronto

  • LHD 1993 McGill University

  • LHD 1994 Indiana University

  • LLD 1995 Harvard University

  • LHD 1996 The University of Chicago

  • DLMS 2005 Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

  • DrSc 2010 The Rockefeller University

Recent Research / Recent Publications

Selected Publications
  • "Renaissance Humanism: The Pursuit of Eloquence." Journal of the History of Ideas 24, no. 4 (1963): 497–514.

  • "Valla’s Encomium of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Humanist Conception of Christian Antiquity." In Essays in History and Literature, edited by H. Bluhm, 37–52. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

  • "Machiavelli: The Art of Politics and the Paradox of Power." In The Responsibility of Power: Historical Essays in Honor of Hajo Holborn, edited by L. Krieger and F.  Stern, 34–53. New York: Doubleday, 1967.

  • "Aims of Education." In The Aims of Education, edited by J. W. Boyer. Chicago: The College, 1987.

  • "Some Reflections on the Commonwealth of Learning." In AAAS Science and Technology Yearbook 1992. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington D.C., 1993.

  • "The Research University: Public Roles and Public Perceptions." In Legacies of Woodrow Wilson, edited by J. M. Morris, 23–44. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, 1995.

  • "The Leaning Tower of Academe." Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 49, no. 7 (Apr. 1996): 34–54.

  • "Prospects for the Humanities." In The American University: National Treasure or Endangered Species? edited by R.G. Ehrenberg, 115–27. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.

  • "On the History of Giants." In Universities and their Leadership, edited by W. G. Bowen and H. T. Shapiro, 101–115. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,1998.

  • "One Hundred Years of the Renaissance." In Useful Knowledge, edited by A. G. Bearn, 247–54. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1999.

  • "The Challenge of Leadership and Governance in the University." In Knowledge Matters: Essays in Honour of Bernard J. Shapiro, edited by P. Axelrod, 93–100. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004.

  • "Western Civilization and Its Discontents." Historically Speaking 7, no. 1 (Sept./Oct. 2005): 41–42.

  • Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

  • "Forward,"More Than Lore: Reminiscences of Marion Talbot. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

  • An Academic Life: A Memoir. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018.

  • Discussion with Chicago Tonight, WTTW, April 18, 2018

  • Q&A with Inside Higher Ed, March 20, 2018