Tufts’ Dr. Bruce Boghosian Is New President of AUA


Dr. Bruce Boghosian

By Alin K. Gregorian
Mirror-Spectator Staff

MEDFORD, Mass. — Dr. Bruce Boghosian would rather discuss fluid dynamics than his career or accomplishments, but now, since his appointment as the president of the American University of Armenia (AUA), he has had to endure interviews and tributes. Boghosian, a native of Worcester, is taking the helm of the university on September 1.

Boghosian is not entirely unfamiliar with AUA or Armenia; he has taught seminars there twice and was also elected to the Armenian National Academy of Sciences as a member two years ago. “That made me interested in the scientific community in Armenia,” he said. “I enjoyed all my interactions there. I liked the whole idea of the university bringing a US model of graduate programs and using it to benefit Armenia.”

Boghosian went to Armenia in February and met with AUA faculty and alumni. “I was very impressed. They were very bright and energetic people, dedicated to their careers,” he noted.

Boghosian has been the chairman of the Math Department at Tufts University since 2006. He has taught at Tufts for 10 years, specializing in fluid dynamics. He has also been an adjunct professor at the Department of Computer Science since 2003.

Before Tufts, Boghosian was at Boston University for six years as a research professor.

Boghosian is taking an extended leave of absence from Tufts in order to move to Yerevan for the post.

“The AUA was founded in 1991. The idea for it predates that. It opened its doors exactly on the same day that Armenia gained independence,” Boghosian said, on September 21, 1991.

Dr. Bruce Boghosian was welcomed at a standing-room-only program and reception on August 12 at the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, Mass. He and his wife, Laura, are shown above with the organizing committee members, who represented the Greater Boston Armenian organizations cosponsoring the event: Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF), Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA), Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) and National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). From left are: Ara Ghazarians (ACF), Barbara Merguerian (AIWA), Raffi Yeghiayan (NAASR), Marc Mamigonian (NAASR), Edward Avedisian (AUA Trustee), Dr. Boghosian and his wife Laura; Mrs. Edward (Pamela) Avedisian and Mary Goudsouzian (ALMA).

Currently, AUA offers a graduate program and an extension school in six fields, including business and management, engineering, law, public health, English and political science. It is an affiliate of the University of California, and thus, the provost of the University of California system chairs the Board of Trustees of the AUA. The UC program does not make decisions for the AUA on a daily basis; instead, they help the university with “good advice, legal help and office space in California,” said Boghosian.

The American University system, under the aegis of the Association of American International Colleges and University (AAICU), has universities, in Nigeria, Morocco, Ireland, the UK, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bulgaria, France, Kosovo and of course, Lebanon (The American University of Beirut).

Boghosian expressed gratitude to Judson King, the AUA’s chair of the Board of Trustees for mentoring him, as well as the AUA’s previous presidents, Haroutune Armenian and Mihran Agbabian.

The president’s position at the AUA opened when Armenian announced last year that he was stepping down after 13 years.

AUA has about 350 fulltime students and 1,500 students in the extension school. The extension school students are often working adults who take courses for professional development. The university is run in the style of an American university, and English is also the language of the classes. Students come not only from Armenia, but neighboring Iran, as well as Russia, India and the US.

“I don’t want to say what will be my first priority. I need to talk to the people on the ground there before deciding that,” said Boghosian. He did add, however, that he is considering several projects at AUA, including adding an undergraduate program, adding a doctoral program, expanding the fields of study and “making it more of a regional university.”

The university has a total endowment of approximately $25 million, but efforts are going to be made to increase that amount.

AUA is different from regional universities in the former Soviet Union. Like many western universities, it seeks to become part of the greater community and to make change possible in the community. For example, AUA is home to two centers, Acopian Center for the Environment and the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis. Boghosian singled them out as invaluable components of the AUA.

The Turpanjian Center, which has been at the AUA for the past decade, recently launched the Turpanjian Rural Development Program, with offices in Yerevan, Gumri and Ijevan in Armenia, and Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabagh. It is looking to expand into Javakhk. Programs include giving out micro-loans and offering training to rural residents.

In addition, the Acopian Center for the Environment will publish the Field Guide to Butterflies of Armenia in 2012. The center had published the phenomenally successful Field Guide to Birds of Armenia in 1997.

Boghosian noted that every student at AUA has to take a course at the Acopian Center.

The university has a business center, which houses many small businesses and a hotel called the Barsam Suites, located near Republic Square.

Also, the AUA is home to the largest digital repository of manuscripts in Western Armenian, a project in which it collaborates with the Matenadaran.

Boghosian lives in Lexington, Mass., with his wife, Laura, and children, Taline and Aram. Laura Boghosian will move to Armenia with her husband. A former editor of the Armenian Weekly newspaper, she has degrees in political science from the University of Connecticut and the University of California, Berkeley. She and Rabbi Howard L. Jaffe co-founded the Coalition to Recognize the Armenian Genocide last year.

Bruce Boghosian received his bachelor’s degree in physics, as well as master’s degree in nuclear engineering from MIT, and his doctorate from the University of California, Davis. He has taught as a visiting professor in many universities around the globe, including the Peking University in Beijing, China; International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy and MIT. In addition, he is a member of numerous editorial boards and societies, including the Journal of Computational Science and Physica A.

Boghosian said that one of the lessons he will take to Armenia from Tufts is the importance of community service and giving back. “Tufts emphasizes the importance of public service. From students at an institute like this much is expected,” he said. Boghosian said he was proud that at Tufts the biggest student organization is the Leonard Carmichael society, which focuses on public service.

For more information on the AUA, visit www.aua.am.