AUA to Mark 15th Anniversary During Banquet

LOS ANGELES–The American University of Armenia will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with a fundraiser dinner, on Sunday November 12 at the Universal Sheraton Hotel. The banquet celebrates the achievemen’s of AUA and honors the great philanthropic efforts of Mr. & Mrs. Vartkes and Jean Barsam and Mr. & Mrs. Jerry and Pat Turpanjian. AUA was a vision developed in one of the bleakest momen’s of Armenia’s history. The catastrophic earthquake of Armenia in 1988 brought about unprecedented destruction in a nation yearning to create its own identity. As the country set about to rebuild, the idea of an American-style academic institution was proposed by Yuri Sarkissian, then rector of the Yerevan Poytechnic Institute. The idea soon evolved into a specific goal of founding a university that would bring hope and light into a nation that seemed cloaked in darkness. Sarkissian’s idea was put into action by the leadership of two earthquake engineers and an economist- Mihran Agbabian, professor at the University of Southern California, who would later become AUA’s founding president, Armen Der Kiureghian, professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and Stepan Karamardian, professor at the University of California at Riverside. Thanks to the support of the Armenian and American governmen’s, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, individual donors, and the University of California, with which AUA is affiliated, AUA began its first day of instruction on September 21, 1991, the same day Armenia declared its independence. Today, under the leadership of President Haroutune Armenian, AUA’s academic program provides graduate education complementing Armenia’s undergraduate education. Parallel to its academic programs, AUA has seven research and resource centers. By providing teaching, research, and public services, AUA in its 15th year serves Armenia and the region and provides a positive model in the transition to a market economy and democratic governance. More than 1400 AUA graduates today occupy positions of leadership in government, the judiciary, business, health care and education. Following a rigorous review process that relatively few universities can satisfy, AUA is also on track to become the first overseas academic institution fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The banquet’s honorees have contributed greatly to AUA’s success. Vartkes Barsam was a respected AUA trustee, serving for many years as treasurer. He was a devoted participant in the development of AUA from its early beginnings. During the establishment of the American University of Armenia, Vartkes and Jean Barsam assisted President Mihran Agbabian and later worked alongside President Armenian by providing invaluable guidance and clearing hurdles at each step of the way. In fact, the Barsams helped establish not only the solid foundation of AUA, but also many essential components that would sustain Armenia’s growth and development, including the telecommunications infrastructure, a western business hotel to attract investment, and diplomatic interventions with all levels of government and the global business communities. Through the generosity of Vartkes and Jean Barsam, the former landmark Hye Business Suites Hotel is now AUA’s Barsam Building, affording the opportunity to house visiting faculty and students, as well as provide rental income for university operations. The Barsams’ contribution to AUA’s Computer Information Sciences program has been important to the entire university. These and many other gifts over the years complemented Vartkes Barsam’s years of devoted service and guidance to AUA. The entire University community mourns the recent death of Vartkes and joins with countless others across the world in expressing its sympathy and appreciation to Jean and to all the Barsam family. Also to be honored for years of dedicated service, vision and generosity to the University are Jerry and Pat Turpanjian. AUA’s Turpanjian Center of Policy Analysis has long been a valued research arm for Armenia and key to the advancement of the University’s School of Political Science and International Affairs. The Turpanjian Family Scholarship and Student Loan Program funded through AUA has enabled more than 800 Armenian students who couldn’t otherwise afford higher education to attend the various universities located throughout Armenia. The Turpanjians also supported AUA’s photovoltaic solar renewable energy system and other projects. Today, the Turpanjian Rural Development and Adult Education Program seeks to expand the benefits of AUA across all of Armenia and Karabagh through a unique economic development project that combines adult education with direct assistance in business development. This Program will have a transforming effect on the health and well being of Armenia’s wherever located. The tangible benefits of the generosity of Jerry and Pat Turpanjian are having a direct impact in the lives of Armenia’s and in the future of the country and the region. AUA’s 15th anniversary celebrates the great vision of AUA’s founders, and the dedication of its many supporters. The philanthropic efforts and generous donations of all of the supporters of AUA will be honored in addition to recognition of the Barsam and Turpanjian families. All have contributed to 15 years of accomplishment and a brighter future for Armenia. Moving forward, AUA is now constructing a new, state of the art, academic facility, the Paramaz Avedisian Building. To meet the growing needs of AUA’s student body and faculty, and to reflect the increased enrollment anticipated for an accredited American university, the Avedisian Building will add modern classrooms, laboratories, lecture halls, conference and seminar rooms, an auditorium, a caf with a terrace, and even a gallery. The 15th anniversary celebration will help fund the efforts to complete, furnish and equip this exciting new facility. It is with great hope that the Armenian community will come together for this worthwhile cause and celebration. Your support and attendance for this event will help continue the vision that was realized fifteen years ago and which continues to move AUA to new levels of accomplishment, ensuring a brighter future for Armenia and all its people.


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