Bay Area in Support of the AUA College of Science and Engineering
On September 28, 2014, close to 100 supporters in the Bay Area came together in support of the American University of Armenia (AUA) College of Science and Engineering for a lively benefit dinner at the home of Jack and Suzy Koumjian in Hillborough, California. Over $250,000 was raised thanks to generous contributions from both guests and outside benefactors.
AUA’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE) has been an integral part of AUA’s academic program since its founding in 1991. It currently supports over 200 students and 26 faculty members from all over the world. Armenia’s information technology industry has coalesced with AUA alumni and faculty as major constituents, catalysts and champions of various technologies, and the IT industry continues to be one of the fastest growing in the Armenian economy. AUA churns out a large number of high-tech graduates that work in the burgeoning technology sector in Armenia.
The night began with a welcome and introduction by Dr. Lawrence Pitts, Chairman of the AUA Corporation’s Board of Trustees, who spoke about the many similarities between AUA and the University of California. He stated:
“AUA, although it’s a private institution because of very generous philanthropy, is essentially a public institution in that the student tuition only pays part of the education. In the case of AUA, philanthropy helps to support that education in the same way that the State helps the UC system. It takes students from the entire socio-economic scale, which is important for the diversity of students and the developing human capital in the society, whether it’s California or it’s Armenia. Because those two features are very similar, between AUA and the University of California, it makes it very easy to whole-heartedly support AUA and is why, as Chairman of the Board, I’m pleased to be able to support this incredibly worthwhile mission.”
Among the special guests were the speakers Mr. Joseph Simitian and Professor Lusine Poghosyan.
Simitian was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2012, representing the Fifth District. He has served in numerous public service positions, including as member of the California State Senate, the California State Assembly, Mayor of Palo Alto, and President of the Palo Alto School Board.
During his speech, he expressed how impressed he was with AUA and what a major impact it has had, and will continue to have, on Armenia’s economy, citing diaspora support as a key component to its continued success.
Lusine Poghosyan is an AUA graduate, earning her Master of Public Health degree in Armenia and later completing her doctoral and post-doctoral trainings at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City.
Poghosyan spoke at length about the wonderful education she received at AUA and the impact the university has had on her life.
AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian has stated that AUA is the “diaspora’s best investment in Armenia” and continued his remarks: “AUA educates and trains the next generation of leaders, who will shape the future of Armenia, both in governance and in the private enterprise. AUA offers its students American-style higher education in the best traditions of academic freedom, knowledge-based learning emphasizing inquiry and critical thinking, multidisciplinary studies, service to society, value-based education anchored in an ethical and merit-based environment, and access to state-of-the-art facilities. Armed with this knowledge and training, many of our graduates go on to assume positions in society that advocate for positive change, create jobs, and advance justice and fairness. Hence, the impact of AUA in Armenia is fundamental, long term and transformative.”
Several members of the Board of Trustees were present including Zaven Akian, Dr. Yervant Zorian, Carol Aslanian, Adam Kablanian, Dr. Ann Karagozian, Suzy Misserian Antounian and Dr. William Frazer. Also present was AUA’s new Vice President of Development, Lorraine Alexander.
All guests were given hand-made tote bags courtesy of AUA’s Turpanjian Rural Development Program (AUA-TRDP) beneficiary from the Noyemberyan region. The program was established in 2006 and aims at supporting economic development and job creation in Armenia’s rural areas.
The enthusiasm and interest in AUA and the College of Science and Engineering was clear throughout the night. By evening’s end, attendees were certain that by contributing to AUA, they were taking part in a great and worthwhile mission to ensure a successful future for Armenia.