By Arpiar Hagopian
NEW YORK — Prof. Rouben Mirzakhanian, president of the Khachatur Abovian Armenian State Pedagogical University, has been visiting the United States since September 9 at the invitation of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). Dr. Mary Papazian, president of SCSU, awarded Mirzakhanian with the highest honor of her university on September 10 at the John Lyman Performing Arts Center Gallery at SCSU.
The presentation was held during the opening for an photography exhibit, “Bearing Witness to the Lost History of An Armenian Family” Through the Lens of the Dildilian Brothers presented by Armen T. Marsoobian, professor and chair of philosophy at SCSU.
Mirzakhanian is the president of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) of Armenia. Consequently, on the occasion of Mirzakhanian’s visit, the TCA of Greater New York organized a reception in his honor at the New York home of Edward and Carmen Gulbenkian on September 12.
Among the notables in attendance were Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Papazian and her husband Dr. Dennis Papazian, the former Grand Commander of the Knights of Vartan, well known philanthropists, Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADLP) officials, and officers and friends of the TCA.
The host, Edward Gulbenkian, highly praised the exemplary work that Tekeyan has conducted over the years, which inspires confidence in the continued preservation and dissemination of the values of Armenian culture.
The master of ceremonies was Hagop Vartivarian, the chairman of the TCA of Greater New York. After welcoming the guests, he stressed the importance of the affectionate collaboration which has continued for decades among the Church of Armenia, the government of the homeland, and the ADLP. He pointed out the even greater importance of this cooperation continuing with greater momentum after the centennial of the Genocide for the sake of the preservation of the Armenian nation and homeland-diasporan relations. Addressing the Primate, he noted that the two organizations, TCA and ADLP, have traditionally been faithful to the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin.
Shahé Sanentz provided some biographical information in English about the honoree’s educational, political party and activist activities. His many years of service in Armenian national and political life have been by means of the ADLP, and for some 20 years he served as chairman of the executive board of the ADLP of the Republic of Armenia.
Dr. Mary Papazian reflected on the award to Mirzakhanian from the university she heads, impressing on the audience the importance of the relations of Armenia’s institutions of higher learning with American universities.
Mnatsakanyan spoke about the education work conducted by Mirzakhanian, and praised the unique work of TCA in New York. He said that Tekeyan always had supported the embassy in every way.
In his words of thanks, Mirzakhanian also acclaimed the work of the New York TCA, especially on Armenian national issues and in the realm of theatre. He officially invited the TCA Mher Megerdchian Theatrical Group to take the stage in Yerevan with its production of Berj Zeytuntsian’s play “All Rise, Court Is in Session.” He thanked the Gulbenkians, who always remain at the ramparts concerning Armenian national and philanthropic matters.
Mirzakhanian had traveled to New York with his son Karlen, who was present at the reception.
The Primate was the last to speak. He has been friends with Hagop Vartivarian for some 40 years. He commended the service of TCA to the Armenian nation and people, and spoke of the collaboration of that organization for many long years with the Diocese. He also spoke of Mirzakhanian’s participation in the life of the Church of Armenia, and in particular, his friendship with Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II.
Mirzakhanyan is a long time teacher and researcher and since 2010 Chancellor of the university. He has authored three important books, 45 scientific and methodological articles and more than 70 essays. His influence on Armenian culture is exemplified by his service to the World Armenian Congress, the editorial board of Azg daily, the editorial board of Baikar Periodical and the board of Tekeyan Centre Fund in Armenia.
After dinner, the guests enjoyed a piano performance by the New York based Karine Poghosyan. She played Manuel De Falla’s Fire Dance, Aram Khachaturian’s Adagio from the ballet “Spartacus,” and Franz Liszt’s La Campanella.
Aside from Gulbenkian, there were other benefactors present, including Henry Dimijian, Dr. Vaghenag Tarpinian and Dr. Hagop Gulekjian, as well as a group of leaders of the ADLP Armenagan-Housepian Chapter led by Norair Mgrdichian, the director of education of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Artoun Hamalian, the principal of Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School Zarmine Boghosian, the artistic director and choreographer of the Shoushi Dance Ensemble Seta Paskalian-Kantardjian, and the chairman of the TCA Mher Megerdchian Theatrical Group Harout Chatmadjian.
The members of the TCA of Greater NY include Hagop Vartivarian, chairman; Harout Chatmajian, vice chairman; Diana Mkhitarian, secretary; Sirvart Demirjian, treasurer; and members Dr Svetlana Amirkhanian, Carmen Gulbenkian, Helen Misk, Marie Zokian, Marylynda Bozian-Cruickshank, Vartan Ilanjian, Shemavon Atamian, Barkev Kalayjian and Krikor Markarian.