Professor Mesrob Balayan, the internationally renowned psychologist, national and social activist and intellectual of many years, the founder of the psychological laboratory of Isfahan State University, the longtime professor and chair of the university’s psychology and Armenian Studies departments, passed away in Nor Jugha, Iran on Wednesday, April 3rd.
He was born in 1925 in Yerevan. Having moved to Iran at an early age, he received his primary and secondary education in Qazvin and Tehran and attended Alborz Colleges. He was the first child of the long-serving spiritual shepherd of Qazvin, senior priest Ter-Harutiun Ter-Mesrobian Balayan.
After graduating from the French-language university in Tehran, he served for five years at the Mashadi and Rashadi state secondary schools. For his commendable abilities as an instructor, he was sent by the Iranian government to France, where he met again his former classmate and by then the outstanding and well-known mathematician, Vazgen Ter-Harutiunian.
He majored in psychology and literature and graduated from the Sorbonne with honors, receiving the title of doctor. Refusing Sorbonne University’s administration’s invitation, Dr. Mesrob Balayan decided to return to Iran.
In 1961 he was invited to Isfahan to assume the role of the director of the university’s psychology program. He established the psychological laboratory, which at the time was the only one in Iran and the countries of the Middle East. During the time of these activities, he was appointed to the positions of responsibility and professor for Isfahan’s Armenian Studies department. He was a member of the International Psychological Organization. He was honored with awards from universities and research organizations in Iran, Armenia, and France.
In 1996, he was bestowed with the St. Mesrob Mashtots medal by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I.
In 1978-88, he was recognized as man of the year by London’s Cambridge International Biographical Center.
In 1990, UNESCO recognized Dr. Balayan as the world’s fourth most able psychologist.
In honor of his international achievements and successes in his field, he was bestowed with gold medals from former king of Iran, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, and later from the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
His name is mentioned in the sixth volume of the Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia.
Mesrob Balayan devoted a full 50 years to education, pedagogy, and national-social activities. In Nor Jugha, he organized parent conferences, lectures and taught at Armenian schools. He gave lectures in Tehran, Qazvin, and a string of other Armenian-populated cities. Through special invitation, he was a guest lecturer at Yerevan’s Khachatur Abovyan Pedagogical University. His students over the past 30 years have gone on to assume high positions in government or science. Among the noteworthy include the former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammed Khatami, the minister of education and science, Iran’s chief justice, and others.
The aforementioned individuals always remembered their instructor with a sense of gratitude and worked to carry out his requests, which concerned issues relating to the Iranian-Armenian community.
Dr. Mesrob Balayan translated into Farsi the works of Balzac and Mkrtich Armen, which were widely-respected by readers. With his advice and encouragement, Azat Matian, his student from Isfahan University’s Armenian Studies department and later professor and holder of the chair, translated into Farsi Grigor Narekatsi’s remarkable work The Book of Lamentations. An endeavor that spanned several years, this project was well-received among Farsi readers. Intent on concentrating his entire material knowledge in a single location, in 1995 Dr. Mesrob Balayan established in Nor Jugha the Foundation for Children’s Publishing, which would publish colorful books for children and the youth. For this Foundation created to benefit the Armenian community, he donated five million tumans to the Armenian Diocese of Isfahan, which would remain inviolable in the care of the bank, from where the annual proceeds would go to the publication of books. The Foundation has already published six books.
Professor Balayan is the author of more than ten books on science and psychology. He has written hundreds of articles in Armenian, Farsi, and French which have been published in journals and newspapers in Iran, Armenia, and elsewhere.
The Armenian people suffered a great loss following the death of Dr. Professor Mesrob Balayan.
The scientific community, and namely the Armenian community, lost one of its devoted, highly-merited and honored activists.