On June 20, 2017, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian School of Public Health. The event was attended by the Turpanjian family, as well as faculty, staff, and students. The benefactors after whom the school is named, Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian, were unfortunately unable to be present. However, their children, grandchildren, and members of their extended family participated in the celebration marking the naming of the school in their honor.
Provost Randall Rhodes, in a message from the president of the University, Armen Der Kiureghian, read that “It is an honor for this university to name its school of public health the Gerald and Patricia School of Public Health.” The president’s message noted the Turpanjians’ extensive contributions to the University beyond those made to the School of Public Health, including to the Turpanjian Rural Development Program, the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis, DigiLib, and the Turpanjian Foundation Scholarship among many others.
Varduhi Petrosyan, Dean of the School of Public Health (SPH), introduced the school’s mission of “improving the health of the population, improving health services in Armenia and in the region. We strongly believe in transparency, in community engagement, in the highest level of ethics, and in sustainable development. We also strongly believe in the highest level of quality in the education that we provide to our students and in the research and development projects that we implement in the school of public health.”
Dr. Petrosyan noted that in addition to the significant strides the school has taken in publishing articles and abstracts in peer reviewed scientific journals around the world, they are also looking to expand further. The department is looking to develop new degree programs in health sciences which will potentially change the face of health care in Armenia.
Paul Turpanjian, Gerald and Patricia’s son, speaking on behalf of the Turpanjian family, led his remarks by saying “My father reveres education…he loved education but he couldn’t afford to work and to go to school.” Mr. Turpanjian went on to describe his father’s progression from being an immigrant in the United States with only $2.20 to his name, to becoming a major contributor and supporter of the advancement of education in Armenia and abroad.
“Working with people of the caliber that are here at AUA, collaborating with people he respects, talented people like the ones we’ve met today, is really the most rewarding thing that he’s done in his life. We were so impressed with the young people – the quality of the young people – that we met here.”
The School of Public Health has already seen over 230 students graduate from the program, 85% of whom went on to work in various institutions in Armenia and around the world, and 10% of whom went on to pursue doctorate degrees.
Mr. Turpanjian’s closing statement was in praise of the work that has been accomplished thus far, while looking optimistically towards the future.
“This is the epicenter [of success for Armenia] this is the hope, AUA.”
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.