Fresno State and the American University of Armenia announced a new partnership for educational initiatives such as a faculty and student exchange program, joint research and study abroad opportunities through a pact signed today by the presidents of both institutions.

The American University of Armenia is a U.S.-accredited institution based in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California.

On hand to witness the ceremony were several Armenian community dignitaries, including Berj Apkarian, honorary consul of the Republic of Armenia based in Fresno. Apkarian said the partnership is a fitting follow-up to last year’s campus commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

“Today, with this affiliation between California State University, Fresno, and American University of Armenia, we open new opportunities for exchange of knowledge, technologies and educational resources in strengthening the relationship between the Republic of Armenia and diaspora,” Apkarian said, “and in particular with the Central Valley, home of the oldest Armenian community in the United States.”

The city of Fresno and Central California are home to one of the largest populations of Armenians in the United States.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro was joined by Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, president of American University of Armenia, in the Henry Madden Library Table Mountain Rancheria Reading Room for the signing. Castro said this agreement is the first step toward increasing faculty and student mobility between Fresno State and American University of Armenia and, more broadly, the United States and Armenia.

“Our event today will help pave the way for subsequent agreements to create exchanges that will provide educational and research opportunities for members of both learning communities,” Castro said. “The history of the Armenian community in Fresno is intimately intertwined with the region’s rich agricultural tradition, as well as local business and government roles.”

Der Kiureghian praised Castro and the University for its support of the Central Valley’s Armenian community and the partnership.

“These kinds of relationships enrich the experiences of our students and faculty,” said Der Kiureghian, who also noted that AUA observes its 25th anniversary this year. “A partnership with Fresno State is an important one because of its historic relationship with the Armenian community.”

The University dedicated its Armenian Genocide Monument this past April in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the genocide, drawing more than 4,000 people to the event. It is the only such monument on a college campus in the United States and gained international attention.

Fresno State offers an Armenian Studies Program with such courses as Armenian history, language and literature, art and architecture, film, William Saroyan, the genocide and contemporary issues.

Each year the program awards more than $70,000 in scholarships and grants from University endowments.

For more information, contact Dr. Paul Hofmann, assistant vice president for international affairs, at 559.278.5353 or