Arman Kirakossian, Ambassador of Armenia to the United States, will be the keynote speaker at the Armenian Studies Program Annual Banquet on Feb. 9 in the Residence Dining Facility at California State University, Fresno.

The event, which also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State, will begin with a reception at 4 p.m. followed by dinner and the program at 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person and $15 for Fresno State students.

Kirakossian will speak on “Current Developments in Armenia, Armenian Foreign Policy and U.S.-Armenian Relations.” Student recipients of scholarships and grants will be recognized.

EDITORS: To schedule an interview, contact Shirley Armbruster at 559.278.5292.

About Ambassador Kirakossian:

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of America, Kirakossian was appointed representative of the Republic of Armenia in the United States on October 22, 1999, and presented his credentials to President Bill Clinton on February 3, 2000. He holds the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Prior to assuming this position, Dr. Kirakossian served as Armenia’s Ambassador to Greece from July 1994 to October 1999. In March 1999, he also assumed the duties of the Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Athens, Greece.

Dr. Kirakossian was also accredited to Cyprus, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. From 1991 to 1994, he served as First Deputy Foreign Minister, and, from October 1992 to February 1993, he held the post of Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. Before embarking on a diplomatic career at the Foreign Ministry of Armenia, Ambassador Kirakossian held several high-level academic positions at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. He was Associate Director of the Armenian Diaspora Studies Department from 1990 to 1991 and served on Advisory Panel on Science and International Relations of the Armenian Government from 1986 to 1990. He was Senior Fellow, then Project Director at the Center of Scientific Information for Social Sciences at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences from 1980 to 1986.

The Ambassador received a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Geography in 1977 and a Master’s degree in History of the Armenian and International Diplomacy in 1980 from the Armenian State Pedagogical University. In November 1999, he earned the degree of Doctor of Sciences in History. Dr. Kirakossian is the author of several books and more than 100 scientific publications. In addition to his native Armenian, Ambassador Kirakossian is fluent in English and Russian. He is married to Susanna Nazarian and has a son, Aram.

Armenian Studies Program

The Armenian Studies Program at California State University, Fresno was established in 1976-77 when Dr. Dickran Kouymjian was invited from Paris as Professor of Armenian Studies and Coordinator of the Program. Armenian courses, especially in history, had been initiated by Dr. Louise Nalbandian, who in turn invited Dr. Arra Avakian to offer courses in Armenian culture and coordinate the program. Her tragic death in a traffic accident in 1974 eventually led the University administration to establish a regular program with systematic offerings leading to a minor in Armenian Studies.

During the past twenty-five years the Program has gained national and international recognition, the largest such undergraduate program anywhere. For the past 24 years it has sponsored and published the only regularly published University Armenian student newspaper, Hye Sharzhoom.

The Program houses two endowed positions, the Haig & Isabel Berberian Chair of Armenian Studies, held by Prof. Kouymjian, and the Henry Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor of Armenian Studies. Barlow Der Mugrdechian and Dickran Kouymjian constitute the core faculty of the Program along with the annual Kazan Visiting Professor, and the permanent Administrative Assistant is Frances Ziegler. The Armenian Students Organization provides students an avenue for organizing activities for students on campus.

The Program administers about a dozen endowments for student scholarships and Program activities, including the recently funded Victorian Kazan Armenian Studies Endowment. Annually it offers tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships from these funds. It also sponsors an important website devoted to Armenian art and its various activities and a Lecture Series which brings a variety of speakers to campus. The Armenian Studies Program currently houses the headquarters of the Society for Armenian Studies and publishes its Newsletter and Journal. Its next goal is to establish a facility for its archives, including the massive art collection of painter-sculptor Varaz Samuelian.