AUA Leadership Pays a Visit to the Armenian Community in Lebanon

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BEIRUT, Lebanon – President of the American University of Armenia (AUA) Armen Der Kiureghian and AUA Vice President of Operations Ashot Ghazaryan arrived in Lebanon on March 15th for a four-day visit to learn more about the Armenian community of Beirut, introduce AUA to its youths, and open up the possibility of potential partnerships with academic organizations and institutions. They made visits to Armenian community centers, educational institutions, and Lebanese-Armenian media. The visit was organized with the help of Ms. Anita Lebiar of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), and Editor of Aztag Daily Shahan Kandaharian, as well as members of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The trip is part of AUA’s efforts to increase its international reach, and position AUA as the premier destination of higher education for the Armenian diaspora worldwide. As an institution of higher education, AUA boasts many significant qualities that make it an attractive choice for students. AUA is the only independent U.S.-accredited higher education institution in the South Caucus region. Most recently, its accreditation was reaffirmed through February 2024 by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the same commission that accredits the University of California.

Significant highlights of the trip included presentations to over 500 high school students and their teachers. The first was at the AGBU Demirdjian Center where AUA leadership met with Anita Lebiar, the AGBU Educational Council, and staff. Der Kiureghian showed the AUA virtual tour video and made a presentation focusing on programs and admission requirements to 11th and 12th grade students and their teachers from the following schools: AGBU Lebanon Schools, Hamazkayin’s Melankton and Haig Aslanian Djemaran, Azkayin Yeghishe’ Manougian College, Sourp Khatch, Hripsimiants. The presentation was followed by an interactive Q&A session including a wide‐ranging discussion of AUA’s programs and possibilities for future enrollment of Lebanese‐Armenian students.

At Shamlian‐Tatigian Secondary School, AUA leadership was greeted by Principal Vartoug Balekjian. The school hosted 11th and 12th grade students and their teachers from the following schools:  Armenian Evangelical Shamlian Tatigian Secondary School, Armenian Evangelical College – Beirut, Armenian Evangelical Central High School, and Azkayin Sofia Hagopian Secondary School.

A visit to the International College (IC) of Beirut was organized by IC board member Mrs. Maya Tohme, followed by a visit to the home of IC President Dr. Don Bergman where Ms. Marie Assir, Head of International College Admissions was present. Guests discussed study opportunities at AUA for college graduates. 

In addition to outreach and generating interest about future enrollment at AUA with high-school students, AUA leadership met at the Gregoire Mesrobian Armenian Catholic school, where Der Kiureghian and Ghazaryan talked to the principal and leading clergy, and also paid a visit to the Armenian Evangelical College to meet with Principal Zaven Messerlian.

Meetings with various university representatives in Lebanon were aimed to explore collaboration possibilities with university officials, students, and faculty exchange programs. AUA leadership discussed opportunities of potential partnerships with representatives from the American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanese Armenian University (LAU), Saint Joseph University (French University), and Haigazian University.

During a visit to AUB, Der Kiureghian and Ghazaryan met with Ms. Hala Dimechkie, Director of International Programs, Dr. Jordan Srour, Assistant Professor from the Department of Information Technology & Operations Management, and Lebanese Armenian Heritage Club students.

As part of community efforts and engaging with community leaders, Der Kiureghian and Ghazaryan met with Mr. Sarkis Demirdjian, President of Demco Corporation and AGBU Council of Trustees. They were also welcomed by religious leaders that represent solid community centers and churches in Beirut, including the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate, and the Armenian Prelate in Beirut. AUA leadership also visited Antelias to meet His Holiness Aram A Catholicos, who generously donated a collection of his books in English and French for the AUA AGBU Papazian library, and expressed his readiness to help promote AUA as a viable option for higher education in Armenia.

Der Kiureghian observed, “The Lebanese Armenian community had only vague ideas about AUA. They are very interested in AUA and consider it as a viable alternative for their children. We are very attractive in terms of the tuition cost, particularly because Armenians of the diaspora with a special residence permit are treated similar to citizens.”

President Der Kiureghian and Vice President Ghazaryan were invited to several interviews and meetings with Lebanese-Armenian media in order to leverage their outreach in educating the Armenian community in Lebanon about AUA. They visited the offices of Radio Sevan, Ararat Daily, Aztag Daily where they met with members of Hamazkayin Educational Council, and Zartonk Daily at the Tekeyan Center. During the visit to the Tekeyan center, AUA leadership had the chance to meet with Lebanese-Armenian public and political figure, Chairman of the Board of Anelik Bank, and Chairman of the constituent body of the Tekeyan Cultural Association Hagop Kassarjian.

Guests emphasized that the American University of Armenia can serve as a bridge between the Diaspora and the homeland, and that every Diaspora Armenian youth who wants to see their homeland has the golden opportunity through higher education that is affordable, and in accordance with international standards.

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 US-style education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.



Rak Mamul





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