Former University of Chicago President Hanna Holborn Gray to deliver 2019 Kathleen Cannon Lecture

Author: Erin Blasko

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Hanna Holborn Gray, the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Early Modern and European History and ninth president of the University of Chicago, will deliver the 2019 Kathleen Cannon, O.P., Distinguished Lecture sponsored by the University Committee on Women Faculty and Students and the Office of the Provost at the University of Notre Dame.

Gray, who served as president of the University of Chicago from 1978 to 1993, will deliver a lecture titled “Measuring the Height of Higher Education” at 4 p.m. Oct. 30 (Wednesday) in 104 Bond Hall. A reception will follow.

Gray most recently wrote a memoir titled “An Academic Life,” a sophomore release to her book “Searching for Utopia: Universities and Their Histories” released in 2011.  

“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,” said Thomas G. Burish, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at the University of Notre Dame. “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.”

Born in Germany, Gray moved with her family to the U.S. at a young age. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1950 and her Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1957. From 1950 to 1951, she was a Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University in England.

After teaching at Harvard as an instructor and assistant professor, she joined the University of Chicago faculty. In 1972, she was appointed dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of history at Northwestern University. In 1974, she was appointed provost and professor of history at Yale University, where she also served as interim president from 1977 to 1978.

The holder of more than 60 honorary degrees, Gray received an honorary doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in 1980. Gray is 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, as well as a fellow with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served on a number of boards, including the governing boards of Yale and Harvard, and has chaired the boards of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Since 2003, the Kathleen Cannon, O.P., Distinguished Lecture Series has brought dozens of extraordinary women from both within and beyond the academy to campus to engage with Notre Dame faculty, students and administrators.

Cannon is a Dominican sister who serves as associate dean in the College of Science at Notre Dame. As an associate provost at Notre Dame from 1990 to 1997, she was instrumental in establishing both the University Committee on Women Faculty and Students and Notre Dame’s Early Childhood Development Center.

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Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,

Originally published by Erin Blasko at on October 14, 2019.