AUA Honors Kirk Kerkorian
AUA is saddened by the loss of Kirk Kerkorian, the Armenian-American billionaire and philanthropist, who died on Monday, June 15 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 98. Mr. Kerkorian lived a remarkable life. Born to poor Armenian immigrants in Fresno, he dropped out of school at age 9 to help support his family. He was an amateur boxer and a pilot ferrying combat jets across the Atlantic during WWII before becoming an entertainment magnate and one of the founders of modern Las Vegas.
Mr. Kerkorian was a generous philanthropist who preferred to keep a low profile, never allowing anything to be named in his honor. Through the Lincy Foundation, which he established in 1989 in response to the devastating Spitak earthquake, he gave over $1 billion, much of which went toward the improvement of infrastructure and education in Armenia.
At the American University of Armenia, we are grateful for the steadfast support of the Lincy Foundation, and later, the UCLA Dream Fund, where the foundation’s assets were transferred in 2011. Almost from the university’s inception, Mr. Kerkorian’s philanthropy has helped enable our mission of providing the highest quality teaching, research, and service programs in Armenia.
Over the years, AUA has received over $5 million from the Lincy Foundation and the Dream Fund, most of which was given without restrictions and went toward the vital work of building and expanding the foundations upon which the university stands. One of the fundamental features of AUA is our need-blind admissions policy, whereby every student who is qualified and willing to learn is given that opportunity, regardless of the ability to pay tuition. No deserving student is prevented from enrolling due to financial constraints, and this is made possible by the generous support of donors like Kirk Kerkorian.
Mr. Kerkorian was notoriously camera-shy and rarely gave interviews, but in 2008, speaking to Horizon correspondent Hayk Tovmasyan, he reflected on his vision for Armenia: “I’d like to see a more happy, more free, more prosperous Armenia. I want everything for Armenia.” At AUA, we share this vision. We honor Kirk Kerkorian’s memory and are committed every day to building a more happy, more free, and more prosperous Armenia.
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.