YEREVAN — On Wednesday, July 8, President Serge Sargisian made his first official visit to the American University of Armenia (AUA). This visit was on the occasion of the 12th Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, a four-day event attended by over 200 scholars from around the world, which is cosponsored by AUA.
Sargisian toured the university accompanied by AUA President Armen Der Kiureghian and Vice President of Operations Ashot Ghazaryan. Armenian Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan also accompanied him on this visit.
They visited the AGBU Papazian Library and Sargisian was particularly impressed by the fact that its vast collection is open to the public. Indeed, the Papazian Library is a valuable resource for students and faculty from universities across Yerevan. While AUA has roughly 1,200 students, the Papazian Library has 14,000 patrons. He also took great interest in a presentation on the university’s solar energy system, made by AUA engineering graduate and energy efficiency expert, Armen Gharibyan.
The president went on to visit the Akian Gallery, which is currently showcasing an exhibition of watercolors by Der Kiureghian. These works are being sold to benefit the Alumni Scholarship Endowment Fund. Sargisian was given a painting of Haghartsin Monastery as a gift, but opted to buy it instead to support the fund. The exhibit has raised close to $9,000 so far.
Sargisian spoke to several key faculty members, including Dean of the School of Public Health Varduhi Petrosyan, who introduced research projects and collaborations with the Ministry of Health. Alen Amirkhanian, director of the Acopian Center for the Environment, spoke about a number of projects on environmental protection and monitoring, including collaborations with the Ministry of Nature Protection. Aram Hajian, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, highlighted the rapid growth in the number of computer science students and discussed projects that the college is undertaking with several major companies, including Samsung and Mentor Graphics. Sargisian asked a number of questions, focusing on the impact that the research taking place at AUA is having on the country. He was pleased to know that AUA attracts local and diasporan Armenians with advanced degrees from top universities in the West to come and work in Armenia.
The president took great interest in AUA’s plans to start a hospitality management program, which would be well aligned with the government policy to expand the tourism sector. He came away with positive impressions not only of the university’s state-of-the-art facilities, but of the faculty, staff and students who teach and learn within its walls, collaborating on projects that aim to create a brighter future for Armenia.