BEVERLY HILLS—The University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies Leadership Council marked its 10th year with a gala celebration in the presence of 600 guests and supporters, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, September 28.
The 10th anniversary gala honored USC President C. L. Max Nikias for championing the Institute. President Nikias, born in Cyprus, was USC Provost when the Institute was established. “He recognized and supported the Institute both as an idea and as a university program, and for that we’re grateful,” said Charles Ghailian, chairman of the Institute Leadership Council and host of the banquet.
The Gala committee, headed by Diane Cabraloff and Lori Muncherian, raised nearly $2 million to support the Institute’s work. In addition to generous donations by the Turpanjian Family Educational Foundation, there were several significant commitments by others who believe in supporting students through scholarships. The Kassabian brothers – Garo, Jiro and Diko – established a scholarship fund in their parents’ names. International Jeweler and Collector Michael Kazanjian also established a fund, as did Leadership Council member and Closet World CEO Frank and Hoori Melkonian. The Tufenkian family generously established the Richard Tufenkian Memorial Scholarship. Attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck directed some of the proceeds of the AXA Insurance Settlement case in support of the Institute’s programming fund.
Several dignitaries were present to join in honoring President Nikias. The Carnegie Corporation’s president, Vartan Gregorian joined the guests, as did Haigazian University’s president, Paul Haidostian, from Beirut. Paul Ignatius, former Secretary of the Navy, and Ambassador John Evans, who served in Armenia as ambassador, both members of the USC Institute’s Honorary Council, were also present. Also in attendance were Paul Krekorian, a member of Los Angeles City Council, and Sam Simonian, founder of Yerevan’s Tumo Center.
Several members of the USC Board of Trustees were among the attendees, including Ron Tutor, who introduced the president. President Nikias spoke about the importance of scholarship for development, and reiterated the importance of the Institute to the university.
The Institute falls within the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Dornsife Dean Steve Kay expanded on the Institute’s mission, and expressed appreciation for the generous support of donors. He acknowledged the three new appointments made in the Armenian Studies program and repeated the College’s commitment to helping the program grow. Professor Richard Antaramian is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies. Salpi Ghazarian will head the Institute of Armenian Studies. Professor Richard Hovannisian will work with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute to develop the cataloging and indexing of the Armenian Film Foundation’s collection of survivor testimonies.
Institute Director Salpi Ghazarian addressed the audience by acknowledging both the seriousness of their commitment to the role of scholarship in problem solving, and the seriousness of the questions and problems facing the Armenian nation and the Armenian state.
The evening’s program included a musical medley, generously supported by Sara Zaruhi Chitjian, and performed by the Armenian Pops Orchestra, led by Greg Hosharian.
The USC Institute of Armenian Studies (established 2005) supports multidisciplinary scholarship to re-define, explore and study the complex issues that make up the contemporary Armenian experience — from post-Genocide to the developing Republic of Armenia to the evolving Diaspora. The Institute encourages research, publications and public service, and benefits from communication technologies to link together the global academic and Armenian communities. Donations to the USC Institute of Armenian Studies are tax-deductible.
An Attendee’s Perspective on the USC Institute of Armenian Studies 10th Anniversary Gala
BY DAVID KARAMARDIAN
The USC Institute of Armenian Studies honored university president C.L. Max Nikias on Sunday, Sept. 28, at its tenth anniversary gala banquet at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Raising nearly 2 million dollars for the institute, approximately 600 guests filled the hotel’s ballroom and dined to live performances by the Trojan marching band and Greg Hosharian’s Armenian Pops Orchestra.
The night began with the band leading the guests into the ballroom. Diane Cabraloff and Lori Muncherian, co-chairs of the gala banquet committee, provided welcoming remarks to the audience, followed by comments from Charles Ghailian, chair of the institute’s leadership council, and Salpi Ghazarian, director of the institute.
Ghazarian, who became director last month after spending the past 15 years in Armenia, expressed her hope for the future of the institution: “The possibilities are endless, and I’m grateful for the amazing opportunity to try to work with you in this amazing institution, to try to answer very difficult questions that are at the center of global discourse.”
Steve Kay, dean of the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, which houses the institute, later took the stage, praising Dr. Nikias’ support for the institute: “Dr. Nikias’ steadfast commitment to championing USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies has been critical to what we’ve been able to achieve the last ten years and what we’re going to be able to achieve in the future.”
He added, “Tonight, with this momentum unfolding before our eyes, with the tangible excitement that we can all feel and share, we celebrate the Institute of Armenian Studies as it becomes the epicenter of research, teaching and community outreach for a nation that so many people around me tonight call their home.”
Following an hour break for dinner, Hosharian and his orchestra performed a musical medley, and a video presentation featured Armenian USC alumni dating back to the early twentieth century.
USC Board of Trustees member Ronald Tutor then introduced the final speaker of the night, Dr. Nikias himself, who noted how humbled he was to be honored by the institute and how proud USC is to be the institute’s home.
He defined the Armenian community as an “unsurpassed exemplar” of “passionate love for education” and noted the group’s resilience in the wake of hardships: “In the refining heart of the crucible of experience, true character and true leadership emerges. And through the crucible, the Armenian community has emerged with the capacity to provide significant leadership in our society.”
Dr. Nikias closed with an Armenian folk tale to inspire the crowd for the institute’s future. “Three apples fell from heaven; one from the story teller, one for he who listens, and one for he who understands,” he said. “As the Institute of Armenian Studies tells the incredible ongoing story of the Armenian people, may we all embrace these apples and find inspiration and appreciation for many generations to come.”
Established in 2005, the institute covers all aspects of Armenian studies with focuses on the contemporary Diaspora, the developing Republic of Armenia, and the effects of genocide.
David Karamardian is a senior at Loyola High School in Los Angeles and the 2014 Asbarez intern.