LOS ANGELES — A founding member of the American University of Armenia, where he was President Emeritus, and life-long community activist and educator, Dr. Mihran Agbabian, died on Tuesday, February 12, in Los Angeles.
Agbabian was born in Cyprus in 1923 and he grew up in Aleppo, Syria, before moving to Beirut, Lebanon to study at the American University of Beirut. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics (1944) and bachelor’s degree in engineering (1947), and he came to the United States in 1947 to continue his education at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where he received his master’s degree. He completed his studies at the University of California at Berkeley where he received his PhD in civil engineering in 1951.
After working as a structural engineer at several engineering companies, he co-founded the engineering consulting company, Agbabian Associates, in 1963.
In 1984, Dr. Agbabian was appointed as the Fred Champion Professor of Engineering at the University of Southern California. He served as chairman of the Civil Engineering Department and director of the Environmental Engineering program from 1984 to 1992.
He was the founding president of the American University of Armenia in Yerevan which started its operation on September 23, 1991, the same day when Armenia declared its independence. The university, known as AUA, is affiliated with the University of California system and is sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union.
After serving AUA in the capacity of founding president, he retired in 1997, and he was appointed by the Board of Trustees as President Emeritus, working on special assignments for the growth of the university.