BEVERLY HILLS—On Sunday, May 22, some 600 guests gathered at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies. The Gala Banquet was held under the auspices of the Institute’s Leadership Council in the presence of USC Provost Michael Quick and Interim Dean of USC Dornsife College, Dani Byrd.
The evening highlighted the Institute’s work and presented a vision for 21st century scholarship and innovation – a commitment to producing and supporting groundbreaking work on post-genocide issues, on the global Armenian Diaspora, and on the Republic of Armenia, and of course, Karabakh.
Since its inception, the Institute has benefitted from the continuous support of the community. Many of those supporters were honored during the Gala.
Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian received the Legacy award for their profound commitment to education and to USC, where they have named two endowed chairs – one in Contemporary Armenian Studies, held by Professor Richard Antaramian, and a second in Civil Society and Social Change, held by Professor Manuel Pastor. The award, Michael Aram’s Tree of Wisdom, was presented to the Turpanjians by Antaramian and Pastor.
Sara Zaruhy Chitjian, who established the Hampartsoum and Ovsanna Chitjian Fund for Post-Genocide Research at the Institute, received the Heritage Award, which was presented to her by the founder of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture and member of the Institute’s Academic Council, Professor Don Miller.
Member of the Institute’s Leadership Council, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at USC, and Founding President of the American University of Armenia, Dr. Mihran Agbabian, received the Institute’s Dedication Award. Professor Dan Mazmanian, Academic Director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and Global Policy and Dean of the USC Price School presented the award to Agbabian.
The Institute benefits from the support of 11 families who have funded endowments that support research and programming. Nine of them were present and recognized for their contribution to the USC Institute of Armenian Studies: Vatche and Shushik Cabayan, Vahe Karapetian, Garo and Galia, Gerard and Alin and Dikran and Andrea Kassabian, Michael and Virginia Kazanjian, Jack and Taline Kofdaralian, Varant and Hoori Melkonian, Cheryl and Harry Nadjarian, Alice Navasargian, Savey and Ralph Tufenkian.
The audience enjoyed three short films which presented the USC-Armenian connection, the Institute’s vision for the 21st century of scholarship, and the Institute’s mission at the crossroads of heritage and innovation.
The program began with a warm welcome by Gala Banquet Committee co-Chairs, Lori Muncherian and Diane Cabraloff. Charles Ghailian, chairman of the Institute’s Leadership Council, one of the founders of the Institute, and together with his family, a generous supporter of the Institute, also welcomed and acknowledged the decade-long support of the Institute by members of the community, and most importantly, from all of the institutions that are important to Armenian life in the Diaspora.
Director Salpi Ghazarian spoke on the moral and intellectual responsibility of the Institute at this time in Armenian history, and its place in the community, in the university, and in the world. “The late 19th and early 20th century brought catastrophe and destruction to the Armenian nation. The late 20th and early 21st century brought opportunity – all-important statehood, prosperity, and until the Syrian war, unprecedented stability. What does that mean for us as a people? It means that we have institutional, intellectual, and financial resources to drive the change that will impact us, and not just be the recipient, the object, or the victim of these changes. The Institute will be the enabler, the driver, and the facilitator within the community, the nation, and with those tackling problems and seeking solutions on the issues that impact us all,” she stated.
USC Provost Michael Quick and Councilmember of the city of Los Angeles Paul Krekorian spoke appreciatively on the critical role of the Institute in tackling the “wicked problems” facing Armenians in the Diaspora, Armenia, and Karabakh. “The lives of the people in the villages of Karabakh will be impacted by the work that comes out of this Institute,” remarked Councilmember Krekorian.
The program concluded with Greg Hosharian, Siranush Sandaldjian, Norman Ludwin, and George Bilezikjian’s performing Khachaturian, to warm applause from the audience.
Established in 2005, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies 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 promotes links among the global academic and Armenian communities.