Armenian studies celebrates 20 years

Daily Sundial

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The CSUN community celebrated the 20th anniversary of the university’s Armenian studies program with a banquet April 8 at the Brandview Collection Restaurant in Glendale.

The banquet hosted various guests, including local Armenian community and political leaders, CSUN President Jolene Koester, Armenian studies chair Yolanda Rosas, a number of Armenian studies faculty members, Philosophy Department chair Gregory Velazco-y-Trianosky, and College of Humanities dean Elizabeth Say, according to Hermine Mahseredjian, founder and director of the program.

There were at least 175 people in attendance, Mahseredjian said.

The event included speakers and musical entertainment. Letters and proclamations were also received from state senators, including senator Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno), Mahseredjian said.

“It was really amazing to see all the recognition the department got,” said Marina Terteryan, junior business major. “It’s really inspirational for me. It shows what a really strong community can accomplish.”

“(The recognition) was well earned,” said Eileen Khachatourians, Armenian Students Association treasurer, and senior environmental and occupational health major.

The ASA helped to make the Armenian studies program’s existence possible with its formation in 1976, after several Armenian students criticized saying that their culture had no visibility. In 1983, the students petitioned for classes.

To help establish the department, Mahseredjian taught classes for five years without pay, she said.

“I was just volunteering my time,” she said.

The Armenian studies program was formed in 1983 under CSUN’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

The newly formed program received funding from the Alex Manoogian Foundation, named after the Armenian philanthropist. The program received $115,000 during its first four years, until Manoogian’s death.

In 2001, the program began offering a 24-unit minor program, and now offers 14 courses, including classes on Armenian language, culture and contemporary issues. A 12-unit certificate program has also been recently added to the program.

Mahseredjian said she is proud the program has come this far.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” she said. “The progress is excellent.”

The department also sponsors a cultural exchange program that allows students to go on a month-long trip to Armenia to gain further education and experience. Students receive academic credit for participating, and get to sightsee and participate in internships.

President Koester and Yerevan State University President Radik Martirossoyan made going to Armenia possible by establishing a study abroad program, which allows CSUN faculty and students to go abroad to Yerevan State University in Armenia for educational purposes.

Funding for the program is provided through the Instructionally Related Activities fund. The program sent students abroad in 2002, 2004, and is expected to again send students in 2006.

The study abroad program for Armenia received $8,000 in 2004 from the IRA fund.

Mahseredjian said she would like to see the program expand even more.

“That is our future goal,” she said. “We (would like to) be able to offer more courses.”

The banquet served as a fundraiser to help with costs, and brought in a total of $10,000 to go toward the program’s efforts.

With more funding, the university can offer more programs and get more students involved, Mahseredjian said.

Khachatourians said she would like to see the program offer more benefits to students.

“I wish that we could somehow get more classes and more teachers,” Khachatourians said. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to have that opportunity.”

“Hopefully we can have a major,” Mahseredjian said.

“(This program benefits the school because) we get to know about each other’s culture,” said Mahseredjian.