By Aram Arkun
BELMONT, Mass. — Former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis made a guest appearance at a Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) panel discussion called Disabilities and Social Inclusion in Armenia held with the co-sponsorship of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research at the latter’s headquarters on May 26. His remarks focused largely on a trip to Armenia that he and his wife Kitty made in April of this year upon the invitation of the American University of Armenia (AUA).
The longest serving governor of Massachusetts, and the second Greek-American governor in US history, Dukakis was the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee. He is now a professor in the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University (Boston) and a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
The governor, an engaging and relaxed speaker, began by pointing out that “the Greek and Armenian communities are close in many ways. They are part of the same clan.” He explained that he and his wife happened to visit Armenia because of a very close friend, Lorraine Alexander. He first met Alexander when she worked at the Massachusetts State House. She was recruited to UCLA to become the first Director of Development for the School of Public Policy there, where they became fast friends. She went on to Stanford University and other jobs, but now is the new Vice President of Development of AUA.
She introduced the governor to the president of AUA, Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, while he was in the US, and the latter invited Dukakis to visit the university in Yerevan. The governor said, “I find the students to be very impressive—they are quite political in the best sense of the word. They are aware of things.”