In the late 1980’s, a group of Bay Area Armenian- American visionaries decided to introduce the concept of Armenian Studies to one of the most renowned universities in the world – the University of California, Berkeley. Within a few years, under the leadership of the UC Berkeley Armenian Alumni, the William Saroyan Visiting Professorship in Modern Armenian Studies was established, thanks to the remarkable mobilization of the community and generosity of a number of major donors. The Krouzian Endowment, established in 1996, provided important additional support.
In the fall of 1998, the William Saroyan Visiting Professorship became a full-time position. Professor Stephan Astourian was appointed Executive Director of the Armenian Studies Program and Assistant Adjunct Professor of History in July 2002. The William Saroyan position was no longer dependent on temporary appointments.
Professor Astourian began to build the foundation of a full-fledged academic program focused on contemporary Armenian history, politics, language, and culture. The program now offers two history survey courses, one language course, and several seminars to UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students, and each semester regularly enrolls over 30 students of both Armenian and non-Armenian descent. These courses have been approved by the University, and are accepted for credit by a number of majors.
The program is further enriched by visiting lectures, academic conferences, symposia, and public speaking engagements organized or delivered by Professor Astourian.
Our long-term aspirations are to become the leading program in Contemporary Armenian Studies, with vibrant teaching and research programs. Much has been accomplished, but a lot more can and should be
The two endowments (William Saroyan and Krouzian) that support Armenian Studies at UCB have grown beyond the $1 million mark. However, the income from these funds only partially supports the current
program and is not sufficient for further growth and development. Additional funds are needed to enrich the program with language and culture courses and to ensure the program’s high quality and sustainability.
Our goal is to raise an additional $2 million in endowment funds over the next three years in order to bring the Armenian Studies Program at UC Berkeley to the next level of financial stability and program breadth. The resulting increase in income will enable us to:
A premier, full-fledged academic program of Contemporary Armenian Studies at UC Berkeley is a vital educational opportunity for future leaders. Armenia's vast experiences at the "crossroads" of various spheres of cultural and political influence are directly relevant to current and future global challenges. Armenia and the Diaspora have the opportunity to benefit from the decisions of these enlightened leaders.
Give to the William Saroyan Endowment today, and become a partner in the future of the UC Berkeley Armenian Studies Program.