Seta Karamardian Featured Photo
, ,

The Legacy of Seta Karamardian at AUA

3 min read

GLENDALE, California The American University of Armenia (AUA) is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of AUA benefactor Seta Karamardian, and we offer our condolences to her family during this difficult time. 

Seta (née Der Torossian) Karamardian was born to Genocide survivors Yervant Der Torossian and Victoria Topjian, who were married in Antioch, Turkey and grew their family with three sons and four daughters. In 1964, the family moved to Palo Alto, CA. Two years later, Seta married her husband, Dr. Stepan Karamardian, a graduate of the University of California (UC), Berkeley, who was one of the co-founders of AUA. Soon after, Seta and Stepan welcomed three daughters: Liza, Vera, and Rita.

Karamardian Daughters

left to right: Rita Karamardian Higgins, Vera Karamardian Cresson, Liza Karamardian Carter

The family settled in Irvine, CA, and Stepan launched his career within the University of California system, first as Associate Dean at UC Irvine, and later in 1982 as Dean of the Graduate School of Management at UC Riverside. While the idea of AUA was in development, Dr. Stepan Karamardian joined Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian and Dr. Mihran Agbabian, supported by Louise Simone, who was president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) at the time. Dr. Karamardian was instrumental in facilitating the relationship between AUA and the UC Regents, ultimately establishing the University’s partnership with the UC System and playing a significant role in leading the College of Business and Management and the Center for Business Research and Development until his passing in 1994. 

Several years ago, his family, spearheaded by Seta, established the Stepan Karamardian Scholarship Fund at AUA in his memory: “We would like the scholarship recipients to understand the importance of this scholarship to our family. Our father valued education and his Armenian homeland. He was so thrilled to see an independent Armenia and very much hoped to see the country thrive and prosper.” The family hopes to see the named scholarship recipients graduate and go on to help create a thriving future in Armenia as leaders in their professions. 

In addition to supporting the AUA scholarship program, Seta Karamardian also answered AUA’s call to become one of the 100 Pillars of the University, humbly naming it again in the memory of her husband, “In Memory of Stepan Karamardian,” adding that “Stepan was a very proud Armenian and very active in the community. He was so confident in AUA’s mission and proud of the University. He always said, ‘I’m going to leave a legacy when I die’… Maybe this is his legacy.”

Seta Karamardian will be remembered as a kind soul — a charming and vivacious woman who cared deeply about her homeland. She held a fervent philanthropic spirit and carried on her husband’s established legacy at AUA through supporting countless students at the University in obtaining quality education in Armenia. 

AUA Co-Founder and Interim President expresses: “We are all very sad for the passing of Seta Karamardian. Seta was an inseparable partner of Stepan Karamardian in his efforts to build the Business and Management program and the Center for Business Research and Development in the early years of AUA. The Karamardian family remained steadfast supporters of AUA, and we are proud to have the Karamardian Conference Room in the AUA Business Center, as well as the Stepan and Seta Karamardian Endowed Scholarship. On behalf of the AUA community, I express our sincere condolences to the entire Karamardian and Der Torossian families.” 

Karamardian Conference Room Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Karamardian Conference Room in 2004 (left to right: Dr. Der Kiureghian, Elizabeth Agbabian, Dr. Agbabian, Seta Karamardian, Sona Armenian, Dr. Armenian) 

With the passing of Seta Karamardian, the family has decided to rename the established scholarship fund at AUA to the “Stepan & Seta Karamardian Scholarship Endowment Fund” and, in lieu of flowers, prefer gifts to be made toward the fund to honor the memory of their parents. 

To contribute towards the named scholarship fund, please visit and, in the comments section, include “Stepan & Seta Karamardian Scholarship Endowment Fund,” or make your checks payable to “AUAC” and mail to the AUA Office of Development: 117 S Louise St, Glendale, CA 91205. In the memo section, please include “Stepan & Seta Karamardian Scholarship Endowment Fund.”

The funeral service will be held on Monday, December 12 at 1:00p.m. at the St. Andrew Armenian Apostolic Church in Cupertino, CA. 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.