An Evening to Remember: AUA 25th Anniversary Official Ceremony and Gala Concert

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On June 3rd, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted an official ceremony and gala Concert at the Aram Khatchaturian Grand Concert Hall. The evening was part of a series of events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the AUA.

The Aram Khachaturian Grand Concert Hall was adorned with AUA’s 25th Anniversary decor as the University faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, major benefactors, religious leaders, government officials, and the public came to celebrate the 25 years of achievements of AUA. Led by the Hover State Chamber Choir, the event was commenced by the Armenian national anthem, “Mer Hyrenik,” followed by the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Master of Ceremonies Armen Amiryan congratulated AUA, and highlighted the philanthropic grass-roots foundation of the University that was incepted in response to the devastating earthquake of 1988. The spotlight was then passed over to Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, President of AUA, to give his welcoming remarks. As one of the co-founders of AUA, Dr. Der Kiureghian has witnessed the progress and development of the institution upon its inception. In describing the compelling rate of advancement of the AUA, he stated, “AUA opened in 1991 with 101 students in three graduate programs in a Soviet-era facility. A quarter of a century later, we have more than 1,500 students (approaching 2,000 in fall 2016) enrolled in 8 graduate and 3 undergraduate degree programs, a University Extension that offers continuing education or preparatory courses to more than 3,000 students annually, nine research centers that address critical national and international problems, a vibrant program of digitizing Armenian literature, and the Turpanjian Rural Development Program that trains and assists entrepreneurs in rural areas of Armenia to start their own businesses.”

The University has far reached beyond the dreams of the founding visionaries since opening its doors during the Republic of Armenia’s independence in 1991. The facilities at AUA have advanced threefold, with modern classrooms, auditoria, offices, food facilities, and most recently, student dormitories. AUA boasts the best English-language library in the region, serving more than 15,000 patrons from within and outside the University. Most importantly, the University has achieved accreditation through the WASC Senior College and University Commission, one of six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education, as well as licensure from the Ministry of Education of Armenia. These recognitions are testament to the quality and rigor of the curricular and co-curricular programs offered at AUA. The Armenian and American governments have demonstrated their unwavering support for the mission of the AUA to deliver higher education in Armenia.

Mr. Levon Mkrtchyan, Republic of Armenia Minister of Education and Science, delivered a greeting by the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, and continued with the presentation of awards to pay tribute to the dedicated contributors to the University. The awards were officially bestowed by the President of the Republic of Armenia Decree.

The Medal of Movses Khorenatsi is awarded for outstanding achievements in the spheres of culture, art, literature, education, social sciences, and sports. Receiving the Medal of Movses Khorenatsi was the Chairman of AUA’s Board of Trustees Dr. Lawrence H. Pitts and Assistant Vice President Anahit Ordyan. Ms. Ordyan voiced her appreciation, “With these gracious words, I express full gratitude on behalf of the dedicated AUA staff. AUA is a unique chance to serve the independent Republic of Armenia, for which we are very thankful.”

A Medal of Gratitude was awarded to both Tom Samuelian, Dean of the AUA College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Zaven Akian, a member of the AUA Board of Trustees, benefactor, donor of the AUA Akian Gallery and over 200 scholarships to AUA students within the past 6 years, and has also been involved with the University since its inception. The Medal of Gratitude is awarded for state, economic, social, scientific-technical, and public activities, as well as for major personal contributions, devotion aimed to promote the spheres of health, education, and culture.

A Commemorative Medal of the Republic of Armenia was awarded to AUA Benefactors Berj Kalaidjian and Zaruhy Chitjian to honor their significant contribution to education and science. And last, but not least, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia conferred the Gold Commemorative Medal (the highest award of the RA MES) to the Director of the AGBU Papazian Library Satenik Avakian. Upon receiving the Commemorative Gold Medal for her outstanding influence and contributions to AUA, Ms. Avakian stated, “It is a great honor to be part of this big community, to be a friend, and to serve the American University of Armenia.” In addition, Director of Financial Services and Chief Accountant Mnatsakan Mkrtchyan, and Registrar Chaghig Arzrouni-Chahinian also received the prestigious Gold Medal.

Following an invocation from His Holiness KAREKIN II, Catholicos of All Armenians, the screening of the 25th Anniversary of the American University of Armenia film was debuted. The film gave an opportunity for the attendees to learn more about the spirit of the University, and to encapsulate the past, present, and future of AUA.  The footage was replete with reminiscent testimonials from AUA faculty, staff, students, and alumni. In addition, the film featured the new facilities, and displayed the significant impact the University has made in Armenia.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the University, the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra performed a live concert, led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Eduard Topchjan. The orchestra performed familiar favorites such as the famous George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from the opera “Porgy and Bess” with vocalist Nune Badalyan, and excerpts from the ballet “Spartacus” by Aram Khachaturian. The full video coverage of the AUA 25th Anniversary Award Ceremony and Gala Concert can be seen at:–oo&

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.