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AUA Mourns Passing of Major Benefactor Edward Avedisian (1937-2022)

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YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) community is deeply saddened by the loss of longtime philanthropist and friend of the University Edward Avedisian, who passed away last Wednesday, December 7, surrounded by his wife Pamela and family members. 

Born in 1937 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Avedisian grew from humble beginnings to become a seasoned musician and savvy investor, which saw him enjoy financial success that helped fund his many philanthropic endeavors later in life. 

Avedisian graduated from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts in 1959 and 1961, receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. He led a decorated professional career as a clarinetist with the Boston Pops for 30 years and with the Boston Ballet Orchestra for 43 seasons, in addition to performing with the Armenian State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Armenian Radio and TV Orchestra, and the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia. He also served as an instructor, lecturer, and arts administrator, adding to his successes as a private investor. 

Opening ceremony of the Paramaz Avedisian Building, 2008

Opening ceremony of the Paramaz Avedisian Building, 2008

Together, Edward and Pamela Avedisian were instrumental in their support of AUA through various efforts, ranging from sponsoring the Paul Avedisian Center for Business Research and Development (CBRD), named for his brother, to funding and naming the Zvart Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR), named for his sister, and serving as the main benefactor in the construction of the AUA Paramaz Avedisian Building (PAB), completed in 2008 and named after his second brother. As the principal donor of the 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, he served as the chair of the Construction Committee of PAB from 2005 to 2008. Today, the building accommodates multiple offices, classrooms, research centers, conference halls, student union, an amphitheater, and ancillary spaces for teaching and learning.

In 2022, Avedisian announced another major gift with the sponsorship of two Endowed Named Professorships in honor of two former chairs of the AUA Board of Trustees who have played an instrumental role in the development of the University: the Dr. Judson King Endowed Professorship and Dr. William Frazer Endowed Professorship. More recently, Avedisian was in talks with AUA leadership regarding the funding of the new AUA Science and Engineering Building to be built on campus.

Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian awards Edward Avedisian the inaugural AUA Presidential Commendation Award, AUA Commencement, 2017

Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian awards Edward Avedisian the inaugural AUA Presidential Commendation Award, AUA Commencement, 2017

AUA Co-Founder and Interim President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian fondly remembers Avedisian, acknowledging his major support throughout the years: “Ed was a gentle, kind, and extraordinarily smart person. He served on the Board of Trustees of the AUA Corporation with distinction for many years and brought valuable insight and innovative ideas to our deliberations. He was a major benefactor of our University, though he always avoided displaying his own name on buildings or programs. It was a true honor for me to present him with the inaugural Presidential Commendation of the University. We will miss him dearly, but his legacy is present in all corners of AUA and, importantly, in the good work that our graduates are doing in their daily lives.”

A symbol of courage, humility, and benevolence, Avedisian played a major role in helping usher new advancements for the University through expansion of the campus and its academic programs, as well as the development of research. In so many ways, he was a facilitator of progress for AUA and Armenia, along with championing Armenian causes in the United States.  

His passing will indeed leave a major void in the hearts of all who cherished him in the AUA community, but his memory will live on forever through the enduring impact he has had on thousands of AUA students and the perpetual legacy he leaves behind on campus. 

We are eternally grateful to him. Thank you, Mr. Avedisian. 

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. 

Media Coverage:

[The Armenian Mirror-spectator] Noted Philanthropist Edward Avedisian Dies

[The Armenian Weekly] AUA mourns passing of major benefactor Edward Avedisian (

[The Armenian Weekly] In Memoriam: Edward Avedisian 1937-2022

[Massis Post] AMAA Announces the Passing of Edward Avedisian(1937 – 2022)