Dr. Alexander Chilingaryan, Dr. Narek Martirosyan, and Dr. Armen Yeghiazaryan, all faculty of the School of Business at Yerevan State University (YSU) visited Fresno, February 17 through March 9, as part of the NIS (Newly Independent States) College and University Partnership Faculty and Development Program in Business and Economics between Yerevan State University and California State University, Fresno.
The three-year, $300,000 program provides opportunities for faculty from Yerevan to visit Fresno, with return visits by Fresno State faculty to Armenia. Technical assistance in the form of computers and internet access have also been an important part of the project. The project began with a previous one year, $100,000 grant, 1999-2000, and the current grant will run through August 2003. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States funds the Partnership Program.
Yerevan State University and Fresno State have had close ties for many years and the current cooperative agreement provides further opportunities for faculty and students to become familiar with each others institutions.
Project director Barlow Der Mugrdechian of the Armenian Studies Program and assistant project director Professor Elizabeth Shields of the Department of Finance at Fresno State organized meetings and activities for the visiting group. Attending courses, giving papers at colloquia, and sharing information with fellow professors, were all part of the itinerary.
The professors gave a public lecture on “Armenia: The Current Economy” on Thursday, February 28.
Armenia’s economy has, prior to Armenia’s independence in 1991, for more than 70 years been inextricably intertwined and interdependent with the economy of the Soviet Union, of which it was one of 15 constituent Republics. Independence, as an economic phenomenon, meant that Armenia had to face the challenge of transformation to a market economy, almost overnight, and without the luxury of having all of the requisite economic institutions and infrastructure.
The devastating December 7, 1988 earthquake has also left a lasting impact on the northern regions of Armenia and the effect on the overall economy has been great.
Compounding these internal challenges, are several external challenges: the economic blockade of Armenia by neighbors Azerbaijan and Turkey, still continuing today; issues regarding a sufficient supply of energy for industry and residents; the conflict between Karabagh and Azerbaijan; and the general economic problems of the region, especially those of the former Soviet Union republics, especially the Russian Federation, which is facing its own economic challenges.
The visit of the faculty from Yerevan State University provided a means for faculty from Fresno State to explore the economic future of Armenia. Since Armenia’s economy is in transition, it provides an excellent model to study.
The emphasis of the trip was curriculum development and implementation of new courses in the newly revamped curriculum at the YSU School of Business. Of particular interest to the visitors were the operations of the University Business Center on campus as well as entrepreneurial courses which help develop individual initiative.
The three faculty from YSU all speak excellent English and have backgrounds which are varied.
Dr. Alexander Chilingaryan teaches management at Yerevan State University and has been trained in accountancy. His doctoral dissertation was on the topic “Improvement of personnel management in small and medium enterprises of Armenia.” He is a graduate of Yerevan State University, and has been assistant professor at YSU in the field of personnel management since 1998.
Dr. Narek Martirosyan is associate professor of economics at Yerevan State University. He has been chief advisor to the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Armenia and has been involved in the drafting of the main economic policy concept of the Republic for the period 2000-2003. He has also participated in drafting of the Armenian Customs and Tax legislation.
Dr. Armen Yeghiazaryan has extensive experience in private and government positions. He is former Minister of Economy (1993-1995) of the Republic of Armenia and since 1999 has been Chairman of the Union of Banks of the Republic of Armenia. He is the author of 25 scientific publications in the fields of mathematical modeling of economic systems, economic forecasting and social-economic development. He has also been a member of the National Assembly of Armenia, from 1995 to 1999, serving on the commission on Financial, budgetary, and economic issues.
It is expected that several Fresno State faculty will join project director Barlow Der Mugrdechian in visiting YSU this summer. Next fall a new group of faculty will travel to Fresno State as project activities continue.