WASHINGTON — On Thursday, May 16, the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) co-sponsored a special evening honoring Dr. Levon Avdoyan, longtime area specialist for Armenia and Georgia at the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress.
Avdoyan was recognized by the SAS for his outstanding service and contribution to the field of Armenian Studies during his more than 40-year tenure at the Library of Congress. The special event was co-hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Washington, DC.
The reception took place at the Armenian Embassy with the presence of former US ambassadors to Armenia Michael Lemmon and John Evans, diplomats from the Embassy of Georgia, representatives of Armenian-American organizations, and members of the Armenian community.
The opening remarks were made by Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States Varuzhan Nersesyan. In his remarks Nersesyan acknowledged Avdoyan’s contribution to the field of Armenian studies and his many scholarly accomplishments. The ambassador especially highlighted Avdoyan’s efforts in putting together a number of crucial projects throughout his career, including the 2012 exhibition on the 500th anniversary of the first Armenian printed book, the annual Vardanants Day Lectures on various topics of Armenian studies, support during the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the extensive social media program to popularize the Armenian collection of the Library.
Following Nersesyan’s remarks, SAS President Prof. Bedross Der Matossian (Associate Professor of History, University of Nebraska, Lincoln) took the podium and introduced the activities of the SAS to the audience. He highlighted the strategic importance of establishing an Armenian Studies Program at one of the Washington-area universities. After discussing Avdoyan’s academic journey from the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, to Columbia University, Der Matossian highlighted the important work that Avdoyan has undertaken in the field of Armenian Studies, both as a scholar and as an invaluable source for scholars. At the end of his talk, Der Matossian presented Avdoyan with the inaugural Society for Armenian Studies “Lifetime Achievement Award” in recognition and appreciation his outstanding service and contribution to the field of Armenian Studies.
Next, Dr. Mary-Jane Deeb (former chief of the African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress) described the tremendous effort that Avdoyan had made in increasing the Armenian collection in the Library. She said that in Avdoyan’s tenure the Armenian collection grew from some 7,000 items to about 47,000 and that the Georgian collection increased more than five-fold. In 1994, Avdoyan created the annual Vardanants Day Armenian Lecture series which in 2018 celebrated its 21st year with an international symposium “New Topics in Armenian History and Culture.”