BY TAMAR KARKAZIAN
If you set foot on the Fresno State campus and look around you will soon realize that the campus is celebrating a century of excellence, as this year marks the University’s hundredth anniversary (1911-2011). Various activities have been taking place throughout campus to celebrate: a centennial parade, a birthday celebration, and a reception honoring leadership.
The month of October was designated by the University to highlight the College of Arts and Humanities and its ten departments and programs, one of which is the Armenian Studies Program. The College decided to organize an Exhibit in the Madden Library in October that would highlight its achievements. The Exhibit consisted of large panels with historical material and photographs supplied by each of the departments.
The Armenian Studies Program formally launched the opening of the Exhibit by inviting alumni to visit campus for a reception to be held on Sunday, October 10th, in the Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery, on the second floor of the Henry Madden library. Alumni were contacted to gather at the Library to renew old acquaintances and to catch up with former faculty and staff.
The sight of many Armenians, young and old, students, faculty, and alumni greeted those who emerged from the second floor elevator. Among those present were former Director of the Armenian Studies Program, Dr. Dickran Kouymjian and Dr. Vida Samiian, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. Dr. Kevork Bardakjian, Manoogian Professor of Armenian Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, was a special guest at the event.
As old friends reunited, and past students reconnected with old professors, current students informed guests of activities happening within the Armenian Studies Program with two tables: one for the Armenian Students Organization (ASO) and the other for Hye Sharzhoom.
At the ASO table guests got a chance to mingle with current executives and members. “It was wonderful to meet past members and hear about their experiences,” stated Faten Myaznih-Kassabian, ASO public relations officer. Guests also supported their alma mater by purchasing car wash tickets or ASO t-shirts. Alumni also could look at a special chart, to see who the past executives of the club were, dating all the way back to 1974.
There was also an opportunity to see the progress and change of Hye Sharzhoom over the years. A table was set up with numerous Hye Sharzhoom issues dating all the way back to the first edition, published in April 1979. Also available was a 30th Anniversary booklet, listing of all the staff, editors, and advisors for the paper, from the beginning to 2010. “It was amazing to see the changes that Hye Sharzhoom has gone through. It was very enlightening to meet people who have really impacted the ASO,” commented Armen Atikian, a current ASO member and staff writer for Hye Sharzhoom.
Once alumni and guests had the opportunity to mingle and to enjoy the full refreshment table a short program took place. Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, current Director of the Armenian Studies Program, began the program by introducing professors new and old to the guests. He also introduced former Program Secretaries Fran Ziegler and Kati Litten. Brief comments were made by Dean Vida Samiian, explaining the importance and influence the Armenian Studies Program has had on the College of Arts and Humanities. Dr. Dickran Kouymjian was especially invited from Paris to be present at the reception. He described the joys of teaching and reminisced about the struggles and successes of the Armenian Studies Program. Dr. Sergio La Porta, the Berberian Chair of Armenian Studies extended his welcome to the guests and wished the Armenian Studies Program many more years of success.
As the reception was ending, it was easy to see that the event had been quite a success. Alumni left feeling content that new students were active, faculty were pleased to see the progress of their former students, and current students left feeling fortunate to be part of a strong and great tradition.