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ASP 40th Anniversary Banquet

Dr. Mary Papazian Photo: ASP Archive
Dr. Mary Papazian
Photo: ASP Archive

Marine Vardanyan

Staff Writer

The Annual Armenian Studies Program Banquet is a much-anticipated event, held every Spring to recognize the accomplishments of the Program and its students. This year, the Banquet will also celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Armenian Studies Program.

Dr. Mary Papazian, President of San Jose State University is the featured guest speaker at the Banquet. A native of Southern California, Dr. Papazian is no stranger to the world of Armenian studies. While at UCLA, where she received her B.A, M.A., and Ph.D. in English, Dr. Papazian was an active member of the Armenian Students’ Association. At UCLA she took courses from Dr. Richard Hovannisian, professor of Armenian and Near Eastern History.

An alumna of Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian High School in Encino, California, Dr. Papazian understood the value of Armenian studies early on. “A people with a long and productive history have a right to be known along with other nations and peoples in our educational system, particularly on the higher levels,” said Dr. Papazian.

Dr. Papazian has another connection to Armenian Studies—she is married to Dr. Dennis R. Papazian, founding director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan, Dearborn and for many years professor of history.

University Armenian Stu-dies Programs, like Fresno State’s, serve a crucial role in highlighting and perpetuating the Armenian history and culture to a broad audience. In its 40 years of existence, the Program has produced more than 131 alumni with Armenian Studies minors and has educated more than 12,000 students on Armenian history, language, arts, literature, and culture through its various courses.

Those who have engaged with the Program carry with them many unique lessons and takeaways. In many ways, students who have interacted with the ASP have served as ambassadors of the Program and demonstrated the value of their experience through their accomplishments and contributions to the Armenian community.

“There is no question that the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State has helped to keep the Armenian community alive and active over several generations, not only here in Fresno but wherever the graduates have traveled and set down roots,” said Dr. Mary Papazian.

Several such students, as well as recipients of Armenian Studies scholarships will be recognized during the Annual Banquet.

The Armenian Studies Program has organized more than 400 events throughout the past 40 years, including lectures, conferences, workshops, musical performances, exhibits, and more. “To put it simply, the program’s greatest assets are its human assets, the dedication of the scholars in the support of the people. What I admire is the consistent good quality of the Program over the past 40 years and the prospect that it will continue as long as there are people who care to maintain it,” said Dr. Papazian.

The success of the Program would not have been possible, if not for the personal sacrifices and relentless leadership of the Program’s current and retired faculty.

“Those who have maintained the Program over the years, in particular Dickran Kouymjian, the emeritus Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies, Barlow Der Mugrdechian, the Director of the Center for Armenian Studies and Coordinator of the Program, and Sergio La Porta, current Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies, have shared the wealth, so to speak, over the years, through lectures, conferences, and publications which have been fundamental to the development and enrichment of Armenian studies here in the United States,” stated Dr. Papazian.

“Armenian studies has reached the point where the knowledge and experience of the Armenian people can make a distinct contribution to the preservation of civil society both here in the United States and elsewhere in the world,” emphasized Dr. Papazian. The Armenian Studies Program of Fresno State has made a significant impact on students and the community. The collaboration between campus administrators, ASP faculty, students, and the Armenian community will continue to propel the Program forward as an exceptional hub for Armenian studies.

The Armenian Studies 29th Annual Banquet will take place on Sunday, March 19 at the Fort Washington Country Club in Fresno.