The Armenian Studies Pro-gram 29th Annual Banquet, held on Sunday, March 19 at the Ft. Washington Golf and Country Club, was a special occasion that marked the Program’s 40th anniversary. Distinguished guests, alumni, and students gathered to celebrate the success of students and the ever-growing Armenian Studies Program, which has become the preeminent Armenian Studies Program in the world.
Among the guests were keynote speaker Dr. Mary Papazian, President of San José State University; Dr. Joseph Castro, President of Fresno State; Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities; and Dr. Honora Chapman, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities.
Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Director of the Armenian Studies Program, opened the event by thanking the donors and students.
Dr. Sergio La Porta, Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies, emphasized the importance of the students, the community, and the donors. “The Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State is great, and the real reason for that is our students, their parents, and you, the community, who make sure that we stay on our toes and make sure that our students get the most out of their education possible,” said Dr. La Porta.
Dean Jiménez-Sandoval and Associate Dean Dr. Honora Chapman discussed the important role of the Program within the College of Arts & Humanities. The Armenian Studies Program provides Fresno State’s diverse student population with education in communicative skills, humanistic values, and cultural awareness, which are all goals the College of Arts & Humanities strives to achieve.
“Armenian Studies is the perfect example of every single discipline in our college of arts and humanities from poetry to lectures to history to art,” said Dr. Jiménez-Sandoval. “As humanists, we are creators of concepts, and at the heart of our creations is the quest for knowledge invested in bettering our society. Within this parameter of the arts and the humanities, it is Armenian Studies that is the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the College.”
Attending the Banquet for the fourth consecutive year, President Castro continued to show his strong support for the Program and the Armenian community. “This Armenian Studies Program is undoubtedly the most distinguished of its kind,” said President Castro. “It is so impressive to me that in 40 years, the Program has sponsored over 400 world-class lectures, conferences, and musical programs on our campus.”
President Castro also commended the students, past and present, who have been involved in Armenian Studies Program. “Students who participate in the Armenian Students Organization and the Hye Sharzhoom newspaper have opportunities for leadership and engagement and are among our most active students on campus.”
The Banquet attendees had the privilege to hear from Dr. Mary Papazian, the only female, Armenian university president in the United States. Dr. Papazian reflected on the origins of the Program and on the future that lies ahead. “Let me tell you that we are witnessing the development of a very special new generation. These young Armenians are talented, ambitious, caring, and dedicated. They are making us proud and they rightfully will outdo us. It is our obligation to continue to support them to ensure that our community remains as united today, and into the future, as it was during the centennial commemoration.”
The program concluded with reflections from graduating senior Haverj Stanboulian, who is minoring in Armenian Studies. Graduating seniors earning a Minor in Armenian Studies, ASO Executive officers, and recipients of Armenian Studies scholarships were individually acknowledged and awarded certificates. Forty-five students were among the more than 220 attending the Banquet.