John D. Gerhart was born in 1943 in Abilene, Texas. His educational journey comprised of :
- Attending St. Stephen’s School in Austin
- Earning a degree in English and French History and Literature at Harvard in 1966.
- Earning a Masters in Public Affairs in 1969
- Earning a Ph.D. in 1974
While at Harvard, he took a year off in 1963-64 to teach high school in Tanzania. After graduation, he spent a year on a traveling fellowship at Makerere University in Uganda. He then did graduate work at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.
From 1969 until 1998, Gerhart worked in the international division of the Ford Foundation in various capacities such as:
- Advisor to the Kenyan government and Botswana Ministry of Agriculture
- Assistant representative for East Africa
- Representative for the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa
- Deputy vice president for international programs
- Regional director for Africa and Middle East programs. He was the foundation’s first representative for Southern Africa and opened the Johannesburg office in 1993.
His work at Ford Foundation involved many aspects of life in developing countries, including rural development, women’s rights and reproductive health, university development, land reform, and the promotion of third world arts, culture, and indigenous philanthropy.
From 1998 to 2000, Gerhart served with distinction as president of the American University in Cairo. Some of his major achievement in these years include
- Completing the architectural planning and raising money for the construction of a new $250 million campus for the university.
- Expanding programs for AUC students to learn skills and concepts of civic engagement, and to participate in a wide range of community-based activities.
A lifetime of work in the philanthropic field convinced him that an essential aim of liberal education is to instill values of service and civic responsibility. One of his enduring legacies at the AUC was the leadership he provided in promoting volunteerism and public service.
Gerhart’s contributions to higher education in Egypt and his lifetime work did not go unnoticed, among some of his accolades Dr.John Gerhart was:
- Named as one of Princeton’s graduate faculties hundred most notable alumni of the 20th century, in 2001.
- Awarded with Egypt’s First Class Decoration for Arts and Sciences by President Hosni Mubarak in 2002.
- Conferred with the degree of doctor of humane letters honor is caused by the AUC, in 2002.
John D. Gerhart’s life was a model for many colleagues and friends to whom his wisdom, humor, and generosity were a source of inspiration. On July 26, John’s ashes were interred in a memorial garden at St. Stephen’s following a funeral conducted by his mentor and friend, the Rev. James Tucker.