LOS ANGELES — On Saturday, October 12, 2019 the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) held its 45th Anniversary Banquet at the Organization of Istanbul Armenians Banquet Hall in Winnetka, California. The Banquet was sponsored by the Organization of Istanbul Armenians (OIA). Over 130 people attended the Banquet, including members of the greater Los Angeles community, as well as participants of the Society for Armenian Studies 45th Anniversary International Conference on the Armenian Diaspora that took place October 12-13 at the University of California, Los Angeles. Academic community members of the University of Southern California and UCLA, which were among the co-sponsors of the SAS conference, also attended the banquet.
Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian (Director of the Armenian Studies Program at California State University, Fresno) served as the Master of Ceremonies of the Banquet. SAS President Dr. Bedross Der Matossian (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) welcomed the guests and thanked the Organization of Istanbul Armenians (OIA) for hosting the 45th Anniversary Banquet. In his remarks Dr. Der Matossian outlined the initiatives that the SAS has undertaken since 2018. These new initiatives included awarding of new SAS Travel and Research Grants to graduate students, establishing the SAS podcast series, starting a SAS Publication Series, establishing the Nina G. Garsoïan Graduate Research Grant for Ancient and Early Mediaeval Armenian History, and the beginning of e-Entries of the Society for Armenian Studies (e-SAS), a website that was recently launched.
Furthermore, Dr. Der Matossian announced that the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies (JSAS) will henceforth be published by the prestigious Brill publishing house. Dr. Der Matossian concluded his remarks by outlining the future projects of the SAS and emphasizing the necessity of adequate financial support for the implementation of these projects.
Professor Houri Berberian, Meghrouni Family Presidential Chair in Armenian Studies and Director of the Armenian Studies Program at the University of California, Irvine, spoke on behalf of the Armenian Studies Chairs and Directors of the United States. She highlighted the new collaborative initiatives that have begun between the Armenian Studies Programs and Chairs, as well as the new directions and vision of the field of Armenian Studies.
In a musical tribute to the 150th anniversary of the birth of Komitas, musicians Greg Hosharian and Martin Haroutunian played interpretations of Armenian Folk Melodies. After the musical interlude SAS Executive Council member Dr. Dzovinar Derderian read from letters sent by former SAS presidents, Richard Hovannissian, Dennis Papazian, Dickran Kouymjian, Ronald G. Suny, and Joseph Kechichian.
SAS President Dr. Der Matossian then awarded the Society Armenian Studies (SAS) “Lifetime Achievement Award” to past presidents. Among the awardees present at the Banquet were Prof. Kevork B. Bardakjian, Marie Manoogian Professor of Armenian Language and Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian, the Director of the Armenian Studies Program at California State University, Fresno. Dr. Der Matossian highlighted the unconditional support that Prof. Der Mugrdechian has rendered to the Society for the past several decades.
Der Matossian also awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Dr. Khachig Tölölyan (Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Wesleyan University) and founding editor of the Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, a Zoryan Institute publication.
Dr. Vahram L. Shemmassian (Director of the Armenian Studies Program, California State University, Northridge) gave the concluding remarks.
Archbishop Levon Zekiyan, the Armenian Catholic Archeparch of Istanbul concluded the banquet with his congratulatory words and a prayer.