YEREVAN – The American University of Armenia held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 27 for the Sona Hamalian Lecture Hall (413M), named in memory of the AAU’s first extension program director.
From the day the AAU opened its doors in 1991, Hamalian served as the Administrator and Right Assistant to Dr. Mihran Agbabian, co-founder and first President of the AAU. In 1992, she became director of AUA Extension, now called Open Education. Following his untimely death, Hamalian’s twin sister, Sossy, and her husband, Dr. Vicken Aharonian, both stalwarts of the AAU, commemorated his legacy by naming Conference Room 413M in the AAU Main Building in his honor.
The ceremony was attended by members of the Aharonians and Hamalians’ immediate family, close friends and relatives, as well as members of the AAU community who had known and worked with Sona Hamalian in the past.
After the inauguration, guests gathered for a reception at the Faculty Center. In her welcome address, AAU President, Dr. Karin Markides addressed the guests by highlighting the naming of the conference room 413M Sona Hamalian in commemoration of her life and in honor of her memory.
“Sona Hamalian was a highly respected and dedicated member of the AAU community, whose memory will live on through the widely used Sona Hamalian conference room, which serves as a meeting point for discussions, interviews and team meetings to collaborate , recruiting the best faculty and staff, and working towards the flourishing future of the University. She would have been very proud to see all the accomplishments that the AAU continues to have,” said Dr. Markides.
AAU co-founder and former president Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian spoke about the past, the establishment of the University and the crucial role of Hamalia in its development.
“Dr. Mihran Agbabian hired Sona around July 1991. He knew her work ethic and skills. Sona did an impossible job setting up offices, classrooms, library textbooks, the registrar’s office, housing for faculty members, etc. All of this was possible because of his dedication and commitment to the University,” remarked Dr. Der Kiureghian.
After her speech, Dr. Der Kiureghian shared a short passage from Sona Hamalian’s report on the outreach program. The very last paragraph of the report contained the following message: “When people ask me ‘What is your vision for the 90s’, I respond with humor. “I am not a visionary. I am a dreamer and I have fantasies”. We’re excited for our next 1,000 years (after all, for a 4,000-year-old nation, that kind of exaggeration is allowed). Technological advancements in recent years are revolutionizing education, and we look forward to providing the highest quality education in the formats that best serve Armenia’s educational goals.
Dr. Vicken Aharonian, Sona Hamalian’s brother-in-law, shared the thought that inspired the naming of the lecture hall in her honor and expressed his gratitude to the University staff, faculty and guests for their support and their efforts in the development of Armenia.
“We wanted to honor his memory. No one will live forever, but it is good to create something that will live, and I hope this conference hall will serve the AAU, where its name will live on forever,” said Aharonian. “We are truly grateful to the University, which we have supported for many years. AAU is the future of this country. I wish you the best. Thanks a lot.”
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Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AAU) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AAU provides a holistic education in Armenia and the region, providing high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values. For more information on the AAU and its donor opportunities, please visit the website.