The President’s Armenian Leadership Council held its first gathering of the Fall semester at the Viticulture and Enology Conference Room on October 4, 2017. Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro greeted the Leadership Council members, who were to receive updates from faculty and administrators.
The Leadership Council had a special treat in store as Kevin Smith of the Enology Program at Fresno State was present to discuss three different varieties of wines that were served along with lunch. The wines were a product of the Fresno State Enology program and Smith presented each wine with an explanation as to the origins of the grapes used in the wine-making process.
Dr. President Castro then discussed some of the new campus priorities for the year. He remarked on the progress the university has made in improving graduation rates and also noted that Washington Monthly had named Fresno State as the nation’s number 17 best university.
College of Arts and Humanities Associate Dean Dr. Honora Chapman then highlighted some of the goals of the College and how community support is integral to the flourishing of academic programs. The Armenian Studies Program is one of ten departments and programs housed within the College.
Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Berberian Coordinator of the Armenian Studies Program, gave an overview of the activities and accomplishments of the Program during the past year.
The Armenian Studies Program offered six courses in the Fall semester: in art, language, literature, culture, and history. All of the courses were well enrolled and there are a number of excellent students who are engaged in the Program and in the Armenian Students Organization.
The Armenian Studies Program has continued to enjoy the support from the Leon S. Peters Foundation for a fifth year and from the Bertha and John Garabedian Foundation. The Program has also received support from the Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation for special events. This year a new scholarship fund was established by the Robert Saroyan Family Foundation and a new Warren R. Paboojian award was established for the editor of Hye Sharzhoom by the Warren and Lesa Paboojian Family Foundation.
The Armenian Studies Program has sponsored a variety of community events during the Fall semester including an international conference, “Armenians, Greeks, and Kurds: A Peoples’ History of the Ottoman Empire,” a panel discussion on “Armenians and Turks: Challenges and New Paths Forward towards Reconciliation” and lectures by Christopher Atamian, Dr. Boris Adjemian, and author Adrienne Alexanian who spoke on her father’s memoir, Forced into Genocide, before an over-flow audience. A special screening of the movie “The Promise” on September 29 and a concert by the National Chamber Choir of Armenia held on October 29 were both great successes. Faculty and students gave a well-received presentation on the “Armenia Summer Study Trip 2017” on October 24.
In the Spring semester of 2018 the Armenian Studies Program is already planning two special events. On Friday, March 2, 2018, the Program is bringing the Chilingirian-Bagratuni-Hakobyan Trio to Fresno for a concert and the Program’s 30th Annual Banquet is scheduled for Sunday, March 11, 2018 at Ft. Washington Country Club.
Last summer Prof. Sergio La Porta, Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies, taught a five-week intensive course in Classical Armenian at St. John’s University in Minnesota and he announced plans for a second year of the class that will be held at Fresno State in June of 2018.
Debbie Adishian-Astone, Vice-President for Administration at Fresno State, gave an update on the Armenian Genocide Monument. She stated that an Endowment Fund had been established to provide support for maintenance of the Monument. The Fund will be administered through the Armenian Studies Program and the College of Arts and Humanities.
Dr. President Castro concluded the meeting by opening the floor to comments and questions from the members. The next meeting of the Council will be in March 2018.