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U Chicago president emerita to speak on higher education at Notre Dame

| Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Former University of Chicago President Hanna Holborn Gray and professor emerita of early modern and European history will visit Notre Dame on Oct. 30 to deliver the 2019 Kathleen Cannon, O.P., Distinguished Lecture, announced in a Monday press release.

Gray’s lecture, titled “Measuring the Height of Higher Education,” will take place at 4 p.m. in 104 Bond Hall. The event will be followed by a reception.

A native of Germany, Gray moved to the United States as a child. In 1950, she earned her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College and attended Oxford University as a Fulbright Scholar from 1950 to 1951. Gray received a Ph.D. in history from Harvard in 1957.

Gray joined the University of Chicago after serving on the Harvard faculty as an instructor and assistant professor. In 1972, she transitioned to Northwestern University, where she became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of history. In 1974, she left to join Yale University, taking on the position of provost and history professor. She was also interim president at Yale from 1977 to 1978.

Gray holds more than 60 honorary degrees, including an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame which the University awarded in 1980. Gray has held seats on several boards, chairing the boards of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and serving on governing boards at Harvard and Yale. Gray is also a member of academic organizations including the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education and Renaissance Society of America and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“As a highly regarded scholar and administrator, Professor Gray’s impact on university governance, academic freedom and the role of higher education in society has been significant and lasting,” University provost Thomas G. Burish said in the release. “We look forward to gaining valuable insights about these and other topics from one of the most influential leaders of higher education in the past 50 years.”

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the University Committee on Women Faculty and Students, the annual Kathleen Cannon, O.P., Distinguished Lecture has brought women of distinction to the Notre Dame community since 2003.

Recent guests include Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University; Helen King, professor of classical studies at The Open University; and Argentine arts and culture writer and designer Samanta Schweblin.

A Dominican sister, Cannon currently serves as associate dean of the College of Science. Cannon was also associate provost from 1990 to 1997.

During her time at Notre Dame, Cannon helped found the University’s Early Childhood Development Center and the University Committee on Women Faculty and Students, which according to its homepage helps to evaluate the “policies, practices and the general environment of the University as they relate to women faculty and students.”

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