LOS ANGELES — The University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies Leadership Council marked its 10th year with a gala celebration in the presence of 600 guests and supporters, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, September 28.
The 10th anniversary gala honored USC President C. L. Max Nikias for championing the Institute. Nikias, born in Cyprus, was USC Provost when the Institute was established. “He recognized and supported the Institute both as an idea and as a university program, and for that we’re grateful,” said Charles Ghailian, chairman of the Institute Leadership Council and host of the banquet.
The Gala committee, headed by Diane Cabraloff and Lori Muncherian, raised nearly $2 million to support the Institute’s work. In addition to donations by the Turpanjian Family Educational Foundation, there were several significant commitments by others who believe in supporting students through scholarships. The Kassabian brothers — Garo, Jiro and Diko — established a scholarship fund in their parents’ names. International Jeweler and Collector Michael Kazanjian also established a fund, as did Leadership Council member and Closet World CEO Frank and Hoori Melkonian. The Tufenkian family generously established the Richard Tufenkian Memorial Scholarship. Attorneys Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck directed some of the proceeds of the AXA Insurance Settlement case in support of the Institute’s programming fund.
Several dignitaries were present to join in honoring Nikias. The Carnegie Corporation’s president, Vartan Gregorian joined the guests, as did Haigazian University’s president, Paul Haidostian, from Beirut. Paul Ignatius, former Secretary of the Navy, and Ambassador John Evans, who served in Armenia as ambassador, both members of the USC Institute’s Honorary Council, were also present. Also in attendance were Paul Krekorian, a member of Los Angeles City Council, and Sam Simonian, founder of Yerevan’s Tumo Center.
Several members of the USC Board of Trustees were among the attendees, including Ron Tutor, who introduced the president. Nikias spoke about the importance of scholarship for development, and reiterated the importance of the Institute to the university.
The Institute falls within the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Dornsife Dean Steve Kay expanded on the Institute’s mission, and expressed appreciation for the generous support of donors. He acknowledged the three new appointments made in the Armenian Studies program and repeated the College’s commitment to helping the program grow. Professor Richard Antaramian is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Contemporary Armenian Studies. Salpi Ghazarian will head the Institute of Armenian Studies. Professor Richard Hovannisian will work with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute to develop the cataloging and indexing of the Armenian Film Foundation’s collection of survivor testimonies.