Nyrie Karkazian and Barlow Mugrdechian
Staff Writer and Advisor
Dr. Radik Martirosyan, President of Yerevan State University, paid an official visit to Fresno State on February 2-3. This was the second visit of the President to Fresno; his first visit was in 2000.
Dr. Martirosyan’s visit was part of the NIS College and University Partnership Program grant, which has partnered Yerevan State University and Fresno State in the field of business and economics for the past five years. Accompanying Dr. Martirosyan was Mr. Edmond Azadian, a board member of the Friends of Yerevan State University. Barlow Der Mugrdechian of the Armenian Studies Program hosted the visitors and arranged their schedule.
Dr. Martirosyan had a luncheon meeting with Fresno State President Dr. John Welty on Tuesday, Feb. 3, where they discussed the continuing ties between the two universities. Dr. Welty and Dr. Martirosyan signed a preliminary agreement for continued cooperation between the two universities. Dr. Dickran Kouymjian, Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies, and Barlow Der Mugrdechian of the Armenian Studies Program, joined Dr. Welty for the luncheon meeting.
Later in the afternoon, Dr. Martirosyan met with Fresno State faculty who have visited Armenia as part of the program. The faculty reported on their work in the exchange program and in their specific discipline. They then discussed the achievements that they had witnessed. Dr. Karen Bowerman, interim Dean of the Craig School of Business and Associate Dean Garo Kalfayan also joined the meeting.
Dr. K. P. Wong, Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, met with the delegation later that day. Dr. Martirosyan, a radio-physicist, detailed the research activities of YSU faculty and where there might be opportunities for joint research projects. Dean Wong expressed his interest in pursuing the possibilities. Dr. David Grubbs, Associate Dean of the College, and Dr. Stanley Ziegler, Assistant to the Dean, also participated in the meeting.
On Monday evening, February 2, Dr. Martirosyan and Mr. Azadian held a public forum about the university and about the Friends of Yerevan State University (FYSU). Dr. Martirosyan spoke of the relationship between Yerevan State University and Fresno State, which has grown since it started in 1992. He added that the people in Fresno had been a great help to the University and he would like them to continue their support.
Unfortunately, with all the support and help they have had, the University continues to struggle financially. During the Soviet era the government fully funded the University, while today the Armenian government only provides 25 percent of the university budget. The remainder comes from student fees and support from the local community and the Diaspora.
Despite the monetary difficulties, the number of students enrolled in the university has actually increased during the past ten years. During its peak the university was ranked in the top 30 universities in the Soviet Union and is still considered one of the top universities in the former Soviet Union. Yerevan State University will celebrate its 85th anniversary in 2004 and has had more than 90,000 graduates.
Dr. Martirosyan said he came to California to better establish the relationship between friends and acquaintances of the University. He wants to start a branch of the Friends of YSU (see accompanying box on the Friends of YSU) in Los Angeles where there are many alumni. The FYSU branch on the East coast has proven to be very successful. Dr. Martirosyan was very enthusiastic about starting the organization and looks forward to getting the West Coast chapter established as soon as possible.
Before speaking, Dr. Martirosyan was entertained by a delightful program put on by the children who attend the Armenian Saturday School of St. Paul Armenian Church. From a girl dancing to Armenian music in a soft blue dress, to children proudly reciting poems, they proudly displayed their heritage. Mrs. Margarite Doumanian Ijian, principal of the school, organized the program.
It is expected that a delegation from Fresno State will visit Yerevan State University in May of this year to continue the relationship between the two universities.