American University of Armenia Celebrates Silver Anniversary with Beverly Hills Gala


Isabelle Bayrakdarian

Isabel Bayrakdarian

Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian

Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian

LOS ANGELES — The American University of Armenia (AUA) will host its 25th anniversary gala evening at the landmark Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Saturday, November 19. More than 500 supporters of the AUA are expected to attend the gala, paying tribute to AUA founders — Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian, Armen and Nelly Der Kiureghian, Stepan (in memoriam) and Seta Karamardian, as well as the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Government of the Republic of Armenia, and the University of California (UC).

Longtime AUA supporters and board members Zaven P. Akian and Sinan Sinanian are co-chairing the event. A much anticipated keynote address will be delivered by philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan, whose wife, Veronika Zonabend, currently serves as an AUA trustee. The visionary couple is known worldwide for a series of notable projects launched in Armenia, including the creation of the Wings of Tatev cableway in southern Armenia, the establishment of United World College in Dilijan, as well as the 100 LIVES initiative in commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

Among the evening’s highlights will be a performance delivered by soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, known for sharing the stage with some of the world’s leading orchestras. Bayrakdarian is recognized for her vocals on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of the film “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers,” and on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan’s “Ararat,” a trance music collaboration with electronica band Delerium, which garnered yet another Grammy nomination, and her Gemini-nominated film “Long Journey Home” documenting her first visit to her homeland Armenia.

A special appearance will be made by former U.S. ambassador to Armenia John M. Evans. Evans, author of the acclaimed Truth Held Hostage, chronicled his personal and political dilemma concerning the truth of Armenian history and the untruth of US government protocol in the name of foreign policy politics.

Eric Esrailian, producer for Kirk Kerkorian’s production company, Survival Pictures, will also take the stage to present guests with a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s first film, “The Promise.” The Armenian Genocide-themed motion picture, directed by Academy Award-winning director, Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda,” “The Boxer”), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11. The all-star cast of the film includes Golden Globe Award nominee Oscar Isaac, Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon and Academy Award nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo.

The 25th anniversary theme, “More Than An Education – A Commitment” is reflective of AUA’s role in providing world-class teaching, research, and service programs that prepare students and enable faculty and researchers to address the needs of Armenia and the surrounding region for sustainable development. The American University of Armenia has evolved into one of the country’s most esteemed institutions and is one of the Diaspora’s most important investments in the homeland. AUA has successfully created a setting that values and develops academic excellence, free inquiry, integrity, scholarship, leadership, and service to society.

The establishment of an American university in Armenia was conceived in the aftermath of the 1988 Armenian Earthquake. AUA opened its doors to 101 students on the same day the Republic of Armenia was declared on September 21, 1991. Today, the university offers a wide array of graduate and undergraduate (since 2013) programs to over 2,000 students each year. Parallel to its academic programs, AUA has many established several centers and programs, including the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC), the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis, the Acopian Center for the Environment, the Turpanjian Rural Development Program, the cutting-edge AGBU Papazian Library, as well as AUA Extension courses throughout Armenia and Karabagh.

Net proceeds from the AUA 25th Anniversary Gala will support scholarship programs. For additional information regarding gala tickets and AUA sponsorship opportunities, contact Matt at development@aua.am or  visit https://25th.aua.am/donate/