AUA Welcomes a New Kind of Giving to the University: Businessmen in Armenia Recognize the Importance of Supporting the University and Investing in the Country’s Future4 min read
YEREVAN, Armenia – For the first time in the history of the American University of Armenia (AUA), an elite group of businessmen, government representatives, and intellectuals attended a reception at AUA’s Akian Art Gallery in early November to learn more about the University’s programs, its current challenges, and its vision for the future.
In inviting local Armenian business leaders and other influential figures to AUA, the University’s goal was to elicit recognition towards the importance of institutional giving to the University, particularly through the newly launched 100 Pillars of AUA. AUA’s aim was also to encourage potential donors to commit to long-term institutional development and sustainability, particularly in the critical area of education. Education is at the core of pivotal and positive outcomes at the societal level.
The atmosphere was jubilant as a large crowd of students gathered in front of AUA’s main entrance to greet the guests and usher them towards Akian Gallery, following a tour of the campus. AUA President Armen Der Kiureghian and VP of Operations Ashot Ghazaryan delivered speeches welcoming the guests. Vasken Yacoubian and Adam Kablanian, members of the AUA Board of Trustees, were also present.
In his speech, President Der Kiureghian spoke about the University’s wide-ranging impact throughout Armenia, since its inception in 1991. AUA has been able to meet a national need for trained, high-quality specialists in several fields, including engineering, business, public health, and English-language instruction. AUA has also made it possible for researchers, through its nine research centers, to study and support such important issues, as environmental conservation and protection, political and legal affairs, and rural development.
President Der Kiureghian also flaunted AUA’s highly respected tradition of transparent management and proudly highlighted the long-standing support of its Diasporan Armenian donors and benefactors. The AUA endowment fund, the scholarship fund, and the University’s operational budget have all been financed by Diasporan Armenians.
Generous Diasporan donors have also heavily subsidized student tuitions at AUA. Tuition fees collected from students pay for only about one-third of the cost of educating the University’s growing student body. The actual cost of education at AUA would have been significantly higher than what is actually stated on admission application forms. Though stated tuition fees are deeply discounted, need-based tuition assistance is still provided to nearly 50% of students.
Vice President Ghazaryan also spoke and expressed hope for future cooperation between the University and Armenia’s business and government spheres. He stressed the importance of building ties among the University, employers, and the government, and underscored the pivotal role that local business leaders could play in the development and realization of the University’s future strategic plans. Ghazaryan talked about the crucial need to expand AUA’s internship program and indicated that employer support is critical in strengthening it, which would help ensure the University’s continued growth in the next five to ten years.
One of the best channels to support AUA is the 100 Pillars project, which was launched globally in 2015. The 100 pillars of AUA is a group of 100 benefactors who pledge to support the mission of AUA in the most fundamental way: through unrestricted giving that will allow the University to address its most pressing needs. With an unrestricted gift of $10,000 per year for five years, each of the 100 Pillars will help maintain a solid platform from which the leaders of tomorrow can leap forth.
Unrestricted gifts are the most important gifts to AUA. They give the University the ultimate flexibility – to seize opportunities and address unforeseen challenges as they arise. They also improve the quality of campus life in a number of possible ways. For example, as AUA grows, unrestricted gifts can help meet the surge in need for student financial aid; they may help with construction costs as AUA expands its state-of-the-art facilities; or they may help AUA recruit and retain international faculty who are leaders in their fields.
“The goal of the 100 Pillars project is to support the University and its students’ development. We want to support our smart and capable students so they can study with no obstacles. AUA’s objective is to bring together successful businessmen and donors who are concerned about Armenia’s future and who want to make sure that high-quality education is available to our youth. This is the only way to ensure a bright future for Armenia, a future that is formed around a nucleus of educated and skillful young professionals. Our young people are building the country’s present and bear responsibility for its future,” AUA’s Vice President said.
Armenia has recently contributed to the erection of several “pillars” within the 100 Pillars project. This is a most valuable and welcome development in AUA’s long history of fundraising, though local Armenian support for the University does have a precedent in the efforts of its alumni to create an endowment fund at the University. The 100 Pillars project has erected another 30 “pillars” with the support of Diasporan and other donors from around the world.
The 100 Pillars of AUA have so far received local Armenian support from businessman Arsen Ghazaryan, President of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen, businessman Samvel Mayrapetyan, and Director of Informatic Solution, businessman Roland Danielyan. These individuals have demonstrated that Armenia is finally stepping up to the plate to commit to the country’s development, in parallel with the efforts expanded by Diasporan Armenians and foreign donors.
During the event, businessman Ghazaryan also delivered a speech and described AUA as an extremely important educational institution for Armenia. He continued by saying that he has been impressed by the skills of AUA alumni with whom he had occasion to work. In another speech, Ara Babloyan, Head of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Healthcare and Nature Protection, noted that, since its inception, the University has had a positive impact on the development of healthcare in Armenia. AUA alumni have been recognized for their contributions to the field by many international healthcare organizations.