UNIVERSAL CITY–At the Annual Banquet of the Armenian Educational Foundation held on November 9–at the Universal Hilton Hotel–pioneer of Armenian Studies at UCLA and the Chair of the Modern Armenian History Department Dr. Richard Hovannisian was honored on the occasion of his 40-year contributions to the field. More than 700 people including colleagues–family members–and numerous community leaders attended the banquet. Simultaneously the AEF was celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Armenian Studies at UCLA as well as the 15th Anniversary of the foundation of the Modern Armenian History Department.
Native of Tulare–California–the prominent social scientist and author Richard Hovannisian was awarded the St. Sahak-St. Mesrob medal–and on behalf of Aram I–he was awarded the "Cilician Knight" medal–which were delivered by Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian and Bishop Mushegh Mardirossian respectively. The AEF also presented an appreciation plaque to Hovannisian–which was presented by AEF chairman Neshan Peroomian and Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Valery Mkrtumian.
The event’s invocation and benedication prayers were offered by Primate Vatche Hovsepian and Prelate Mushegh Mardirossian. The ceremony was opened by Co-Chairmen of the organizing Committee Dr. Sahag Baghdassarian in Armenian and Mina Shirvanian in English.
In his opening remarks–Master of Ceremonies State Senator Charles Poochigian acknowledged Richard Hovannissian’s contributions to the proper presentation of Armenian Genocide around the world.
On two large television screens–the attendees watched Karekin II–the Catholicos of All Armenia’s–the Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia Fadey Sargsian as well as Raffi Hovannisian–the son of the honoree and the former Foreign Minister of Armenia–greet the Professor.
The ceremony featured remarks from former chairman of UCLA Department of History Stanley A. Wolpert and undergraduate students Ardashes Kassakhian and Vishal Agarwal. All of them characterized Hovannisian as a devoted educator–who has dedicated his life to future generations.
Graduate mentor Dr. Vahram Shemmassian and UCLA research associate Dr. Rubina Peroomian thanked Hovannisian for his contributions to the field of Armenian History. The deputy chairman of the National Science and History Academy of Armenia Ashot Melkonian–who was exclusively invited from Armenian to participate in the event delivered a speech–stressing Hovannisian’s contributions to the Genocide recognition process.
Armen Hovannisian–Richard’s second son–delivered an honest speech presenting his father as head of household–who has raised four talented children.
The evening was concluded with a speech by Prof. Hovannisian expressed his gratitude–and he proudly stressed that the foundation of the Department of Modern Armenian Studies at UCLA implemented by the Armenian Educational Foundation 15 years ago–will perpetuate Armenian Studies for many generations to come.
"My own personal discovery of my Armenian identity coincided with the establishment of the Armenian Studies at UCLA," stated Hovannisian–a fact which made him follow his pursuit and do research in Armenian Studies for the rest of his life.
Hovannisian pointed out that while he was studying Russian and Near Eastern History in UCLA–there were no other universities throughout America–which had a center of for Armenian studies. He stressed the significance of the establishment of Armenian Studies in such a major educational institution as UCLA to be a great accomplishment and generously thanked the late director of Near Eastern Center Gustave von Grunenbaum–Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy and Dean Paul Dodd for their assistance in the creation of the Armenian Studies Chair.
Professor Hovannisian’s main objective was to create bridges between various Armenian Diaspora around the world–and to pursue justice for the Genocide.
Hovannisian also recognized his family members who have continuously supported him–like his 92-year old mother Siroon Hovannisian–his wife Dr. Vartiter Kotcholosian as well as his late brother Ralph–who recently passed away.
At the Nishan Palajian Jemaran–and under the guidance of Simon Vratsian–Prof. Hovannisian found the direction–which he would follow for the rest of his life.
Visiting almost all the major Diasporan communities as well as Armenia–Hovannisian collected Armenian pieces from around the world and unified them–to serve the sacred objective–which is the proper presentation and recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Salpy and Sossy Kerkonian played the National Anthems of Armenia and the US on the flute and piano–at the start of the banquet.