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AUA Celebrates Completion of ASHA-Funded Project with Visit from ASHA Director Katherine Crawford

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On May 22, 2015, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted Katherine Crawford, Director of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA), a program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides assistance to schools, libraries, and medical centers outside of the United States that serve as study and demonstration centers for American ideas and practices. Ms. Crawford was accompanied by ASHA Engineer Michael Bozek.

The day’s busy schedule included meetings with deans and directors, students, faculty, and staff, beginning with a welcome meeting with AUA President Armen Der Kiureghian, Vice President of Operations Ashot Ghazaryan, and Director of Administration Anahit Ordyan. The guests were then taken on a tour of the Paramaz Avedisian Building (PMB), including visits to the roof, where solar panels were being installed as part of the current grant’s shared costs. The guests also visited the Acopian Center for the Environment, the VivaCell MTS videoconferencing room, and Manoogian Hall. In AUA’s Main Building (MB), the guests visited the AGBU Papazian Library, which was renovated with a previous ASHA grant, and viewed the facilities that will soon be reconstructed in the course of implementation of current grants for an Innovation & Technology Incubation Center and for improving student services.

Ms. Crawford commended AUA’s leadership, deans, and directors for their successful efforts toward leveraging the funds received from ASHA. At a meeting with students, Ms. Crawford heard first-hand accounts of what it is like to be an AUA student. “It’s great to feel Armenian while getting a western education. Seeing all these great facilities motivates you and makes you want to study,” said a student representative. Many Syrian Armenian students also shared their positive experiences studying at AUA.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bozek had a chance to take a closer look at AUA’s building management system and green technology activities, including the ongoing work for developing solar water heating, as well as visited the areas soon to be renovated under the current grants.

The day concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony in AUA’s Agbabian Hall to unveil the newly installed elevators in the MB and to celebrate the full completion of activities funded by an ASHA grant awarded in 2011. These activities included the creation of 30 integrated technology classrooms, upgrading the equipment in academic and administrative offices, and the replacement of the 40-year old Soviet-era elevators. President Der Kiureghian expressed gratitude for the support received from ASHA since the establishment of the University in 1991. He also recognized all partner organizations and the AUA project management team and thanked them for their excellent cooperation in implementing the activities far before the deadline and within budget. In her remarks, Ms. Crawford said, “It is an honor for ASHA to have a partner like AUA. I see so much potential in the future of this university; it has come so far in the last 25 years. You can tell from the environment, the students, and the faculty that everyone is invested in its success. I think that speaks to the quality of the institution.”

Over the past two decades, AUA has received over $11 million in ASHA grants. With ASHA support, the University has renovated most of the classrooms and offices in the MB, furnished and equipped the classrooms and offices in PAB, replaced old windows of the MB, renovated the AGBU Papazian Library and cafeteria, continuously upgraded equipment, and implemented a number of other important projects. AUA has often been able to leverage ASHA’s funds, gaining support from trustees and other major donors to ensure that ASHA-funded activities continue to operate successfully. “It is very nice to see how effectively AUA leverages every single penny received from the U.S. government,” said Ms. Crawford.

AUA is currently in the process of implementing two projects aimed at improving student services and establishing an Innovation & Technology Incubation Center. These ASHA-funded projects will fundamentally improve study conditions and enhance student collaborative learning and entrepreneurship.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.   

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