BEVERLY HILLS — The American University of Armenia (AUA) celebrated its 25th anniversary with a spectacular gala at the landmark Beverly Wilshire on November 19, during which more than $1.5 million was raised to benefit AUA’s scholarship funds.
Co-chairs Zaven P. Akian and Sinan Sinanian were among the 680 guests who represented a broad and diverse spectrum of the Armenian-American community of Los Angeles.
In his opening remarks, former US Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans stated that the founding and fostering of AUA is the single most important endeavor the Armenian-American community and the US government have implemented together in the Republic of Armenia.
AUA founders Dr. Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian, Dr. Armen and Nelly Der Kiureghian, Dr. Stepan (in memoriam) and Seta Karamardian, and Louise Manoogian Simone were recognized by Dr. Lawrence H. Pitts, chair of AUA’s board of trustees. Speaking on behalf of the honorees was Dr. Agbabian, who stated he was fortunate to take part in the challenge of establishing an American university in Armenia 25 years ago and did what he considered was the right thing to do at the time. Also recognized were three entities, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the University of California (UC) and the Armenian government, for their integral roles in establishing AUA in 1991.
Adam Kablanian, chairman of the AUA Development Committee, thanked the evening’s sponsors and donors and recognized Sarkis and Ruth Bedevian, who had recently established a $400,000 endowment for the University. Kablanian also acknowledged the 30 AUA Pillars present that evening for their support of the University with unrestricted gifts of $50,000 distributed over the course of five years. The 100 Pillars of AUA, a campaign launched in honor of the institution’s 25th anniversary this year, aims to secure 100 pillars committed to supporting the University’s pledge to provide students with high quality education.
Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, president of AUA, reported on the accomplishments of the university during the past 25 years and its goals for the future, including establishment of new programs and expansion of the campus. He emphasized the University’s goal to help make Armenia a global destination for high quality education and research. The President went on to make three special announcements. First, he recognized Mrs. Louise Manoogian Simone for her decisive role in the founding of AUA and her extraordinary generosity towards the University since its inception. The President then announced that, effective immediately, the AUA College of Business and Economics was officially named The Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics in recognition of a special endowment that Mrs. Simone has established to support the College.