A statement by Vartan Gregorian
An Act of Stunning Generosity and Vision
Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg has given the nation a challenge that is stunning both in its generosity and its vision. By directing his challenge grant to the redesign of our nation's schools --particularly schools in the nine largest urban school districts--he is addressing one of the most intractable problems of our time.
His challenge grant is a test and opportunity for all of us who are engaged in the education of our youth--the federal, state and local governments, the school boards, teachers, corporations, foundations, universities and other philanthropists. It is a test of our vision and resolve.
The Honorable Walter Annenberg is a man who does not seek honors or awards. Today's announcement confirms that he is the leading philanthropist of our times. But to say that is simply to describe one trait of the man.
Walter Annenberg has never flinched from, nor retired from, active engagement in life. His inexhaustible public spirit fills us with awe. At the advent of the 21st century--in an era in which we meet with disappointment when we look for heroes--Walter Annenberg is indeed one for our nation.
The Annenberg Challenge serves as a capstone to his life and works. In its boldness it will become the ideal tribute to his unprecedented generosity and an extension of his own principles. Its design is wise because it will unite the resources and ideas of many toward the fulfillment of his vision. Its goal is to bring youth together with opportunity to satisfy our greatest need: an educated, thoughtful and decent citizenry.
Walter Annenberg's great commitment deserves dedication from us to the same degree as his own. Years of intense and accelerated effort lie ahead for all of us because there are no short cuts to the destination we aim to reach. Today I join every American in gratitude to him for giving us this opportunity.
President, Brown University