On Wednesday, January 25, 2012, Haigazian University held the formal opening ceremony of the Armenian Diaspora Research Center with the unveiling of the plaque in the new Heritage Building by the University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian and Mr. YerchoSamuelian, whose donation made the launching of this center possible.
The center was established to study diverse aspects of the Armenian Diaspora communities in the Middle East and the rest of the world, with particular focus on their history, culture and issues of identity and integration. Using the most advanced research techniques, the center aims to conduct and publish primary research that will further understanding of the Diaspora and Armenian culture and protect its heritage. In addition, it will organize annual academic conferences, public lectures and internship programs, among other things.
This initiative which had officially been announced on September 5, 2011, opened in the presence of the President of the Lebanese University, Former Minister H.E. Dr. Adnan El Sayed Hussein,the Center’s Benefactor, Mr. YerchoSamuelian, Archbishop KeghanKhatcherian, Armenian Ambassador, H.E. Mr. AshodKotcharian, Members of ParliamentJean Oghasabian, HagopPakradouni, BassemShabb, Shant Chinchinian, former MP Dr. YeghiaJerejian, Vice Governor of the Central Bank, HaroutiounSamuelian, Head of the BourjHammoud Municipality, AntanigMesserlian, political party and cultural associations’ leaders, media representatives, intellectuals, in addition to Haigazian Board of Trustees, staff and faculty members.
After a welcoming note by Dean of Arts and Sciences ArdaEkmekji expressing her gratitude for the realization of this long-awaited project, the University President, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian outlined the significance of the Armenian Diaspora Research Center and the results that its research will hopefully produce.Characterizing the Armenian Diaspora as a “vast world of people, symbols, dynamics and relationships,” Haidostian emphasized the importance of researching these communities, taking us “deeper into revisiting what we thought we knew.” “We present our research to the academic community so that future generations may be reconciled with their past,” Haidostian added. He also showed his appreciation for the generous financial support of YerchoSamuelian and announced Dr. Antranik Dakessian as the appointed director of the center.
Lebanese University President Dr. Adnan El Sayed Hussein praised Haigazian’s role as a leading university in the country and particularly its importance as a center for the Armenian Diaspora. Hussein also emphasized the memorandum of understanding between Haigazian and the Lebanese University and their upcoming projects.
This was followed by the word of the Center’s Director, Dr. Antranik Dakessian, who elaborated on the extended contact between Lebanon and the Armenians, which can be traced backseveral hundred years but has been particularly prominent within the last century. Stressing on this interaction, Dakessian added that “it is the story of the intermingling of the Armenians and the local populations and is of immense cultural value.” Dakessian emphasized the planned collaboration of the research center “with local and international relevant centers” and expressed his appreciation for all those who contributed to the realization of the center.
A letter from the Armenian Minister of Diaspora, Mrs. HranoushHagopian, was then read by H.E. Mr. AshodKotcharian, the Armenian Ambassador, to offer her congratulations to Haigazian University and its dedicated staff and faculty.In the letter, Hagopian expressed her wish that the center becomes a scientific research center that will tackle Diaspora challenges and issues, greatly contributing to the cooperation between Armenians and the entire Armenian Diaspora.
The opening ceremony concluded with the presentation of an honorary trophy to Mr. YerchoSamuelian, in recognition of his generous donation which helped make a dream of eleven years become reality.