By Michael Rettig
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
FRESNO — The pandemic has been especially challenging for colleges and universities.
Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, the Berberian Coordinator of the Armenian Studies Program (ASP) at Fresno State, has met the challenges due to the pandemic head on when California first went on lockdown and events transitioned online. “People wanted to feel connected and that’s why I felt that I could not just shut everything down, though that would have been the easy route. I took the opposite approach and decided we needed, at the very least, to continue to schedule regular events, or even to increase the number of events per semester.”
For more than 40 years, ASP has played a unique role in the Fresno community; it not only educates a variety of students on Armenian culture, literature, language, art, and history, but it provides avenues for the students and community to engage with one another and with other prominent Armenians from around the world. Since its inception, the program has regularly held events including concerts, lectures, film festivals, banquets, exhibits, and more for students and the community. Each event brings prominent Armenian scholars, directors, and authors to Fresno.
“We bring people to the university and fulfill an educational role that no other institution in Fresno fulfills,” said Der Mugrdechian. “Students, their parents, their grandparents, and their family become tied to the university through the program.”