AUA Grieves the Loss of Two Icons: Mihran Agbabian and Louise Manoogian Simone
The American University of Armenia (AUA) was deeply saddened by the passing of two iconic figures in the history of the University – Dr. Mihran Agbabian, AUA Co-Founder, Founding President, and a longtime benefactor of the University, and Louise Manoogian Simone, AUA’s most magnanimous benefactor, whose historic decision as the President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) to provide funding for the University in its initial years made AUA a reality. Their dedication, commitment, and love for the University will always be remembered. Their legacy will forever be cherished by many generations to come.
Dr. Mihran Agbabian played an instrumental role in shaping AUA. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Armenia was undergoing a monumental transition, Dr. Agbabian had an indelible impact on setting the ground for what is now known as one of the best top-quality educational institutions in the region.
“I was fortunate to collaborate with Mihran in founding the University. He was a role model for me, a mentor, and a source of inspiration. His legacy will live on at AUA forever” said AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian.
Born in Cyprus, Dr. Agbabian was raised in Aleppo, Syria, and studied at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, where he received two Bachelor’s degrees, in Physics and in Engineering. He continued his education in the U.S. earning his Master’s degree in Engineering from the California Institute of Technology and his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Agbabian was an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.
Dr. Agababian was the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the Movses Khorenatsi Medal from the President of the Republic of Armenia for exceptional achievement in educational development; the Sahag-Mesrob Medal from His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos and Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians; the Saint Mesrob Medal from His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the See of Cilicia; and the Saint Vartan Medal from His Holiness John Peter XVIII, Catholicos of the Armenian Catholic Church.
Perhaps his most symbolic achievement was co-founding AUA, which opened its doors on the day of Armenia’s independence, marking a new chapter for the country. As a co-founder, Dr. Agbabian helped set the vision and remained closely connected to the University until his last days. We are proud to continue his legacy impacting the lives of many new generations to come.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, to Alex and Marie Manoogian, Louise Manoogian Simone was raised with high values of philanthropy, love for her homeland, and passion for promoting Armenian culture and heritage. She served on the board of AGBU, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to upholding the Armenian heritage around the world.
Succeeding her father as the international president of AGBU in 1989, Manoogian Simone had a momentous role in the founding of AUA, making the historic decision to provide funding for the University in its initial years. She continued supporting the University throughout her life. It was through her efforts that the Armenian government, under President Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Speaker of the Parliament Babken Araktsian, granted AUA the privilege of using the Communist Party’s Convention Meetings building, which continues to serve the AUA community to this date. Manoogian Simone played an instrumental role in engaging the University of California (UC) in the establishment of AUA, leading to the affiliation between the universities that continues to this date and serves as a tremendous asset for the University.
In recognition of her enormous contributions to the University, the College of Business and Economics was officially named Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics in 2016. Announcing the news during the 25th-anniversary gala dinner in Los Angeles, CA, AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian honored Manoogian Simone “for her decisive role in the founding of AUA and her extraordinary generosity towards the University since its inception.”
Throughout her life, Manoogian Simone received many honors, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the Grigor Lusavorich Medal from His Holiness Vazken I; the Knight of Holy Etchmiadzin Pontifical Medal from His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and the Medal of Mesrop Mashtots by State Order issued by the President of Armenia. “She was an extremely modest person, who did not seek glory and recognition for herself; her focus was on improving people’s lives and supporting educational, cultural, and humanitarian programs throughout the world, particularly in Armenia. We are proud that her name will forever be associated with our University,” said President Der Kiureghian.
Upon the family’s request, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American University of Armenia (American University of Armenia Corporation, 1000 Broadway, Ste. 280 Oakland, CA 94607 https://philanthropy.aua.am/).
You can read the official obituary from the Manoogian Simone Foundation here.
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.
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