AUA Hosts Memorial Service to Celebrate the Life of Founding President, Dr. Mihran Agbabian

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On April 17, 2019, colleagues and friends of late Dr. Mihran Agbabian, the Co-Founder and Founding President of the American University of Armenia (AUA), gathered at AUA to celebrate his life.

Following the screening of a memorial video to honor Dr. Agbabian’s life journey and highlight his innumerable achievements, Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan, the Head of the Department of External Relations and Protocol at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, extended blessings on behalf of His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians. He highlighted the huge impact that Dr. Agbabian had on the development of science and education in Armenia. He also referenced the recent passing of Louise Manoogian Simone, another pioneering co-founder and benefactor of the University. “I believe that today, AUA students and especially alumni honor the memory of two visionaries and major patrons of the University, Mihran Agbabian and Louise Manoogian Simone,” he asserted.

During his memorial remarks, AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian mentioned some of the many productive collaborations he had with Dr. Agbabian, proudly stating that “the jewel of the crown among Mihran’s lifelong accomplishments was the co-founding of the American University of Armenia, and serving as its founding president.”

“He was a role model for me, a mentor and a source of inspiration. His legacy will live forever as the founding president of AUA, and as a person who laid the grounds for a university that now thrives and contributes to the advancement of our homeland, Armenia. We’ll miss him dearly,” he concluded his speech.

Memorial speeches were delivered by other people who were working closely with Dr. Agbabian in the initial years of the University’s establishment. Dr. Gagik Harutyunyan, President of the Supreme Judicial Council, Dr. Radik Martirosyan, President of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, and Dr. Yuri Sargsyan, Director of “Robotics” research laboratory and Member of the AUA Board of Trustees, shared their recollections and paid tribute to their old friend and colleague.

“His contributions to the field of education and science are immense. The future generations will remember him as a brilliant intellectual who had devoted his life to the development of our homeland,” noted Dr. Martirosyan.

During the event, Gevorg Melikyan, Assistant to the President of the Republic of Armenia (RA), addressed the attendees with a message from RA President Dr. Armen Sarkissian. In addition, Talar Kazanjian, Executive Director of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Armenia, read AGBU President Dr. Berge Setrakian’s condolence letter and Harout Nercessian, Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Armenia Representative, reflected on the life and legacy of Dr. Agbabian.

Dr. Michael Kouchakdjian, Professor of Business and Management at AUA and the Director of the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC), who worked closely with Dr. Agabian during the early years of the University, also spoke. “Mihran radiated goodness, selflessness, and humility,” stated Dr. Kouchakdjian. He went on to describe the harsh conditions in Armenia during the early years of AUA. Yet, despite the desperation of the times, “Mihran was always gentle, steady, positive, and devoted – especially to the interests of others.”

The service concluded with a speech by Anahit Ordyan (MBA ‘93), AUA Assistant Vice President. She shared a personal note regarding Dr. Agbabian: “His last visit was about four years ago. Together, we visited different classrooms and lessons. He was very happy and impressed with the new programs. That evening, during the dinner with graduates, he said, ‘Looking back at my life, I can say that I have received numerous rewards. However, my greatest achievement has been the University – as it is not just for me and not just for one time: it is here for the generations to come.’ ”

Ordyan finished the remembrance by reciting Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If,” one of Dr. Agbabian’s favorite pieces.

Dr. Agbabian’s friends and colleagues had the opportunity to further commemorate his life and achievements during the reception that followed in the Agbabian Hall.

The video recording of the memorial service is available 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.