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AUA Board of Trustees Gathers for Dinner in LA

3 min read

By Taleen Babayan

AUA Development Communications

LOS ANGELES, U.S. The American University of Armenia (AUA)’s Board of Trustees dinner, held in Los Angeles on Thursday, January 10, 2019, brought together local community patrons who learned about the positive progress on campus and the future landscape of AUA.

After delivering the evening’s benediction, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America and one of the University’s ardent supporters, reflected on the significance of AUA in the homeland, as well as his first-hand experiences during his visits to the campus in Yerevan.

(l-r) Rev. Fr. Yeghia Isayan, Dr. Maral Dabaghian Anjargolian, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Dr. Kris Mirzayan

“I had many encounters with young students who inspired me with their wisdom and it was at that point I made a commitment to myself in my capacity to endorse this exciting mission and encourage others to join the family of the University,” said Archbishop Derderian. “As I saw the healthy environment and the active engagement of the students at the University, there I felt the beginning of a new journey in the life of our youth in our ancestral land of Armenia.”

Education has always carried a special place in Archbishop Derderian’s heart, as he himself earned dual degrees in theology at Oxford University, which spurred his decision to make a substantial pledge to AUA. Last December, the Archbishop Hovnan Derderian Scholarship Fund, which provides educational support to students of Armenian descent attending Armenian institutions, dedicated itself to becoming a Pillar.

“As a servant of the Armenian Apostolic Church, I will be committed forever to assist and support the University and to spread the good news about AUA in the Western Diocese and wherever else it may be,” said Archbishop Derderian.

In his remarks, Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, President of AUA, elaborated on the impact of the AUA donors, particularly the 100 Pillars, who have brought much-needed change to the campus, from providing more scholarships, to hiring additional high-quality faculty and supporting relevant programming, including newly established degrees in Strategic Management, Engineering Sciences and Data Science.

“Our 100 Pillars deeply value and believe in the mission of the University,” said Dr. Der Kiureghian. “Their association with AUA enhances the momentum and integrity of the institution and gives us a stronger sense of responsibility to serve the homeland.”

Dr. Kris Mirzayan, a visiting faculty member at the Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics (CBE), along with his wife Pamela Ascher Mirzayan, have championed AUA and welcomed new faces into the donor community. Dr. Mirzayan spoke about the potential of the students who will develop the country with the knowledge and skills they acquire at the University.

“AUA graduates are the future of Armenia and the recent appointments in Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s cabinet prove this point,” said Dr. Mirzayan. “No Armenian student should be left behind from attaining a university-level education because an education is something that should never be taken away.”

Dr. Mihran Agbabian and Elizabeth Agbabian

Another special milestone was marked as the dinner participants celebrated the 96th birthday of AUA co-founder and President Emeritus Dr. Mihran Agbabian. His wife Elizabeth Agbabian, a longtime advocate of AUA, shared her thoughts on the occasion and recalled the challenging early days of the University when the conditions in Armenia were quite difficult, but the institution persevered.

“We are very happy and grateful that we still partake in the work that AUA is doing,” said Mrs. Agbabian. “Mihran and I have our hearts with AUA and we will do whatever we can to encourage the University in all of its endeavors.”

The Agbabians have ensured the connection of their circle with AUA, including donor Alice Navasargian, who announced her contribution of $50,000 to the ongoing “Yes, Armenian Women Can!” campaign that helps fund the education of female students at AUA who are studying in the fields of technology, science, math and engineering. In the past, the Navasargian Family has made important contributions to AUA, particularly through the refurbishing of the AUA campus student lounge, which boasts inspiring views of Mount Ararat.

“I’m grateful that Alice is a benefactor of AUA,” said Dr. Agbabian. “She is an asset to the University and holds a high regard for what the institution is doing in Armenia.”

The evening of camaraderie concluded as guests reflected on Archbishop Derderian’s thought-provoking words:

“AUA is a gift in our nation’s life and the question that remains for us all is how we receive this gift and appreciate the gift of AUA in the life of our youth.”

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. For more information about the American University of Armenia and its donor opportunities, please visit