AUA Sums up 2018

5 min read

2018 has been a year of new beginnings, challenges and advancement for Armenia and the American University of Armenia (AUA). As the year comes to an end, we reflect on the highlights of the year and some of the accomplishments realized by AUA and its community.

One of the most remarkable AUA achievements in 2018 was the opening of its Student Union, Faculty Center and Amphitheater adjacent to the Paramaz Avedisian Building (PAB). These additions to the University campus were made possible through a $650,000 grant from the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad Program (ASHA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Anne Dix, Director of ASHA and Agreement Officer, made a special visit to Armenia to this purpose. Prior to the opening ceremony, Deborah Grieser, USAID Armenia Mission Director, and Tina Balin, USAID/ASHA Program Analyst, paid a monitoring visit to the University to assess ASHA’s impact on AUA and its larger community.

This year AUA also received a $900,000 grant from ASHA/USAID to reconstruct and furnish the second of two buildings donated to AUA by K. George and Dr. Carolann Najarian. AUA also started the construction of the first Najarian building as a student residence hall with a $999,000 funding from ASHA.

At the beginning of 2018, AUA launched the Yes! Armenian Women Can! scholarship endowment campaign, which aims to support women students studying computer science, technology and engineering.

In the past 12 months, AUA promoted the 100 Pillars of AUA program, successfully growing the list of benefactors supporting the University. Events of recognition were held throughout the year in the U.S. ‒ Beverly Hills, Orange County, San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno, and Glendale, as well as in Armenia. Several AUA Pillars had the opportunity to participate in an exclusive Pillar tour led by renowned historian, archaeologist and AUA Professor Gregory Areshian.

Among the most important academic achievements was the start of the new Bachelor of Science in Data Science program in September 2018.

Also this year, AUA revitalized its brand guided by international best practices. The new visual identity system was developed in collaboration with the Armenia-based Proper Company.

Reflecting the diversity of the AUA community and aiming to enhance their user-friendly experience with improved navigation and functionality throughout, AUA launched its redesigned website in line with the new branding guidelines.

2018 was marked by top-level visitors to the University. In February, RA President Armen Sarkissian paid a visit to AUA and engaged in a friendly conversation with the AUA community. Shortly afterwards, AUA hosted Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend, co-founders of the IDeA, RVVZ and Scholae Mundi Armenia Foundations, who met with Aurora Gratitude Scholars and announced the expansion of Aurora Gratitude Scholarship program to Iran, Georgia, and Russia. In May, San Jose State University (SJSU) delegation visited AUA to discuss possible collaboration and a few months later signed a memorandum of understanding with AUA. At the beginning of the academic year, AUA was honored to host a delegation from the California State Legislature and ANCA Western Region. Toward the end of the year, AUA Trustees AGBU President Berge Setrakian and AGBU-Armenia President Vasken Yacoubian visited AUA to see the latest additions to the campus.

In 2018, AUA hosted a large number of guest lectures, among which were noteworthy the series of lectures in celebration of the First Armenian Republic centennial, organized in collaboration with the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Armenia, which was delivered by eminent historian Dr. Richard Hovannisian, and the lecture on Talat Pasha’s killing orders and Armenian Genocide by Turkish-German historian Dr. Taner Akcam.

For AUA 2018 was also notable for two appointments: Sharistan Melkonian as AUA’s first Dean of General Education and Dr. Michael Kouchakdjian as the new Director of Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC).

This year AUA hosted the First TEDx AUA event themed “Think Forward.” It featured talks on a variety of topics ranging from technology to art and from marketing to education and youth empowerment.

In April, during the period of the nationwide movement that became known as the Velvet Revolution, the University continued promoting diversity of opinions and freedom of speech as noted in AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian’s statement. AUA faculty members and students voiced their personal thoughts and perspectives in national and international media platforms, such as the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and the Armenian Weekly, among others.

Following the transfer of power in Armenia, several AUA alumni were appointed to ministerial and other leadership positions across Government. In May, 2018, Arthur Khachatryan (MBA ’96) and Mane Tandilyan (MBA ’02) were appointed RA Minister of Agriculture and RA Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, respectively. Among other notable appointments were Armen Grigoryan (PSIA ’11), Secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council; Tevan Poghosyan (PSIA ’96), Adviser to RA President; Arevik Anapiosyan (PSIA ’08), Deputy Minister of Education and Science; Lena Nanushyan (MPH ’05) and Anahit Avanesyan (LL.M. ’04), Deputy Ministers of Healthcare; Hermine Hambardzumyan (PSIA ’03), Deputy Governor of Syunik Marz; as well as Gevorg Loretsyan (MSE ’18), Deputy Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs.

In 2018, the growing network of AUA alumni held several reunions in Barcelona, London, and Moscow, culminating the series of alumni gatherings with the annual Alumni Reunion at AUA. During the event, the Class of ’93, one of AUA 100 Pillars, presented a check for $50,000 to the University, raising the full amount prior to the 25th anniversary of their graduation. With new donations by alumni, the Alumni Scholarship Endowment Fund reached $153,749 in its market value, allowing to provide four more scholarships to current students. At the reunion ceremony, the University recognized Mane Tandilyan (MBA ‘02) as the distinguished alumna of the year.

Upon finding professional stability and success, a group of 25 alumni in Southern California established the AUA California Alumni Scholarship and raised over $3,500 to support students.

In the fall of 2018, AUA hosted the International Symposium on Transitional Justice organized in collaboration with the Zoryan Institute. The event provided a platform for international discourse on the concept of transitional justice and its implications for Armenia.

This year AUA and the Armenian Bar Association joined forces to sponsor a new Technology and Innovation Legal Clinic on campus. The services of the Legal Clinic will be available to the student community through AUA’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program.

In October, an agreement was signed between AUA and Manoogian Simone Foundation to establish the Manoogian Simone Research Fund which will be used to conduct research on topics of interest to the Armenian Government.

AUA students recorded outstanding achievements in 2018. Several EPIC startup teams won €40,000 in grants from EU4Business, and received cash grants from the Product Bootcamp program and AGBU Bridge for CSOs project. Ani Matevosyan (E&C ‘18), currently a graduate student in AUA’s Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program, won First Place in the Nationwide Essay Competition; BA in Business graduate Robert Yenokyan (BAB’18) won the C-Quadrat Student Award at the Armenian Economic Association 2018 Conference; and a team of AUA Students won silver at the 4th International Foreign Language Olympiad among CIS Cadets.

Heading toward 2019, AUA wishes its students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters and the community at large a prosperous year full of peace, joy and success.

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.