Haigazian at 55: Armenian Diaspora's only university continues
pioneering mission

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Published: Saturday October 30, 2010


Graduates of Haigazian university.

View of the university building in Beirut.

Beirut - In the heart of the Mediterranean city of Beirut and in the
hearts of current and former students all around the globe lies
Haigazian University. Located in a prime business and social area of
the Lebanese capital, this jewel has shone for the past 55 years as
the only university with an Armenian identity in the entire Armenian
Diaspora.

The loving family atmosphere, the exceptional quality and standard of
education, and the dedicated faculty and staff make Haigazian a warm
and nurturing second home for the hundreds of students passing through
its gates every day. Haigazian University is open to all students who
are academically qualified regardless of race, nationality or creed
and it has become renowned for graduating open-minded and dedicated
young men and women that actively serve their community.

It all began on October 17 1955, when the Union of Armenian Churches
in the Near East (UAECNE) and the Armenian Missionary Association of
America (AMAA) established Haigazian as a liberal arts college to
educate future teachers and pastors. Named in honor of the highly
respected pastor, educator, philosopher, and a martyr of the Armenian
Genocide, Dr. Armenag Haigazian, the university with its single
building first opened its doors to 43 bright and eager young minds.

Haigazian University has prospered and grown over the years,
transforming into an exemplary educational institution which this year
serves a record number of 800 undergraduate and graduate students, as
well as a fully qualified faculty of around 100 and a staff of 50. The
academic standards of Haigazian are among the top in the country, with
a total of 30 undergraduate and 13 graduate majors offered in the
faculties of Business Administration and Economics, Sciences,
Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Haigazian University
today occupies 6 buildings over an area of 6500 sq. meters in a
central district of Beirut. The recent acquisition of the Heritage
building, which is a preserved architectural edifice, is another
aspect of the university's continued growth and serves a dual
administrative and academic purpose.

As a liberal arts university, Haigazian focuses on providing its
students with a well-rounded education, respecting a balance between
academic and extracurricular activities with the help of its numerous
clubs, teams and societies. Haigazian promotes these clubs on the
basis that they build self-esteem, help students acquire new skills,
strengthen their character, cultivate their creativity and
spirituality and in general prepare them to become future leaders in
their communities.

At Haigazian, every student counts. With an average of 20 students per
class, the best personal care and attention is offered to each
individual. One-on-one personal relations between faculty and students
ensure that students get the most out of their educational experience,
a unique aspect of Haigazian, rarely found in other universities in
Lebanon.

The highly active student life at Haigazian includes a large variety
of clubs that cater to different interests. The Arts and Crafts club
and the Photography club are there for those with artistic
inclinations, showing their works in exhibitions annually. The Actors
club and the Dance club each put on a major production once a year.
For those who want to serve the community, the Desert Streams club is
a philanthropic group of students that helps those in need and the
Environmental club is dedicated to making the world a greener,
healthier place to live in. The Social Activities club plans social
events where students get to know each other and establish
friendships. Haigazian has its own student newspaper, the Herald,
which is a place for students to express their views. The athletic
program includes basketball, football, table tennis, tennis, swimming,
martial arts, extreme sports and chess.

All these activities help students feel more connected to their
university. Haigazian is very proud of its 3000 distinguished alumni
spread all over the world, and holding major positions in the private
and public sectors, in the various fields of business, education,
media, among others.

Haigazian University contributes to the broader Lebanese and Armenian
communities by publishing various books in Armenian, English and
Arabic, and by increasingly acting as a central community hub in
organizing and sponsoring academic, cultural and social events,
extending its efforts all the way to Armenia. On the occasion of its
55th Anniversary, the University is organizing a series of conferences
throughout the year, covering topics from Education to Information
Technology, to Real Estate Market and Hospitality services in Lebanon.
The series will culminate with an Armenological symposium, jointly
organized with the Yerevan State University.

Another vital aspect of Haigazian's growth is related to its budget
and ever growing financial needs. Haigazian operates on a yearly
budget of 5.5 million dollars. Additionally, it grants a total of 1.2
million dollars in financial aid programs. These scholarships are the
tangible reality of the fundraising efforts and donations carried out
by the AMAA, the Stephen Philibosian Foundation and various other
foundations such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Vatche and
Tamar Manoukian Fund, the Robert Boghossian and Sons Foundation, the
Lincy Foundation, the Flora Family Foundation, the Common Global
Ministries Board, Armenian Patriotic Unions, the USAID, the Board of
Trustees, the Women's Auxiliary, and friends of the university.

Through these aid programs, students with financial difficulties who
could otherwise not receive a higher education have the opportunity to
go to university, receive their diploma and be well prepared to start
out their lives in the real world.

The most recent program is the USAP (University Students Assistance
Program) 7.4 million dollar grant, primarily funded by the USAID
(United States Agency for International Development). This aid program
extended over a period of five years will choose students from the
public schools of all the 26 districts of Lebanon and cover all their
expenses from the time they prepare to enter Haigazian until they
graduate, including tuition, dorms, books and petty cash.




From: A. Papazian