Support Group for UCLA Narekatsi Chair Formed

BEL AIR–At a recent gathering–the Friends of the UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies launched its first fund-raising since being awarded official recognition by the university. In conjunction with the Narekatsi endowed chair of Armenian Language and Culture–the group aims to support research in Armenian studies and help organize conferences–seminars–exhibits–workshops–symposia–and related projects and activities.

The reception was hosted by John and Judy Bedrosian at their elegant Bel Air home and featured the university chancellor–Dr. Albert Carnesale–who has recently moved to UCLA from Harvard.

In his up-beat remarks which were warmly received by the large audience Dr. Carnesale noted UCLA’s high standing as a public research university and underscored the significance of its extensive library facilities and holdings which are essential in maintaining quality teaching and research.

He informed that UCLA occupied second place in America after Harvard. Turning to the Armenian Studies at UCLA–he remarked that it had achieved a position of excellence through the efforts of its two chairs in Armenian Language and Culture held by the late Dr. Avedis K. Sanjian and Modern Armenian History occupied by the renowned by Dr. Richard G. Hovannisian.

Moreover–their activities have been supported by the Minassian collection of Armenian man’scripts which is the largest of its kind in North America–and by the extremely rich holdings in printed books that grew out of the generous donation of Dr. Khantamour’s private library.

In this regard UCLA is fortunate in having the services of Gia Ayvazian as cataloguer who has overseen the growth of the collection for many years and devotes most of her time to processing Armenian materials. Indicating that the state now contributed only twenty percent of the university’s operating expenses–the chancellor emphasized the importance of support form the private sector.

He expressed his gratification at the new initiative undertaken by the Friends and encouraged them to rise to the challenge of sustaining the program in Armenian Language and Culture at its prestigious level of performance.

The Master of Ceremonies–Dr. J. Michael Hagopian–chairman of the Armenian Film Foundation spoke form personal experience about efforts leading up to the establishment of the Narekatsi chair in 1969 and singled out the devoted commitment to the cause of Beatrice Davidian (mother of Judy Bedrosian) for special commendation.

A fund in her memory is to be set up by the Friends to expand the scope of Armenian language teaching at the university through the provision of scholarships and assistantships for graduate students.

Also on the program were the distinguished Egyptologist–Dr. Antonio Loprieno and Dr. Peter Cowe–visiting associate professor of Armenian Language and Culture.

As chairman of the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures–Dr. Loprieno briefly summarized the important role of Armenian Studies within the broader perspective of area studies of the Near East.

Dr. Cowe gave an overview of recent developmen’s in the program in Armenian Language and Culture. Over the last two years seven new undergraduate literature courses have been introduced on a variety of contemporary themes such as Armenian Film and Culture–Art–Politics and Nationalism in Armenian Culture–Armenian-American Literature–Modern Armenian Drama and Social Critique (1871-1992).

Given the influx of large numbers of Eastern Armenian speakers in the greater Los Angeles area in recent years and the establishment of that idiom as the official medium of the Armenian Republic–Eastern Armenian is now taught at all levels along with Modern Western and Classical Armenian–thus providing instruction in all the main branches of the language.

Dr. Cowe acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the two graduate teaching assistants–Garo Moumdjian in Western Armenian and Anahid Keshishian in Eastern for their enthusiasm and love of the language which they transmit to the students. In addition–two students had been admitted to the graduate program last year and one of the last of the existing students to begin research under Prof. Sanjian would be submitting her thesis in early spring.

In conclusion–he highlighted the precarious funding for teaching assistant–cutbacks in library allocations–and need to provide more competitive graduate fellowship among other concerns as areas requiring support in order to maintain UCLA as a recognized center of excellence in the field of Armenian Language and Literature.

Following the presentations–guests were invited inside to mingle and share an array of thought over light refreshmen’s and Armenian delicacies.

For further information on activities of the Friend of the UCLA Armenian Language and Culture Studies and membership applications please contact Dr. Vartkes Broussalian–11150 Bertrand Ave.–Granada Hills–CA 91344-4005; phone (818) 360-5621.

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