Patapoutian Family Contributes to Armenia’s Future

Patapoutian Family Contributes to Armenia’s Future

(left to right) Betsy, Talia, Tessa, and Ara Patapoutian

YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) expresses its deepest gratitude for the generous contribution by Ara and Betsy Patapoutian through the University’s Planned Giving program. Their planned gift will benefit generations of students, faculty, and researchers for decades to come. 

The Patapoutians have leveraged the AUA Planned Giving program to strategically plan their philanthropy. Their visionary approach will establish an enduring legacy that ensures the academic success of countless students enrolled at AUA — a gift that will keep giving. 

Ara Patapoutian, born to Sarkis Patapoutian and Haiguhi Adjemian, descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors, grew up in Lebanon alongside his brother Ardem and sister Houry. Ara began his educational journey at the American University of Beirut, where he received his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and continued in the same field, earning a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. In 1991, he embarked on his professional career, taking a position at IBM as a data storage architect. 

During his time at IBM, Ara met his future wife, Betsy, who also worked at the company as a software engineer. Betsy holds a double major in computer science and mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Soon after they were married, the couple relocated to Massachusetts. Working for nearly three decades at EMC Corporation, later acquired by Dell, Betsy currently leads a team of Enterprise Data Storage systems software engineers. Ara continued his career in data storage, holding Technologist positions in various companies. Currently, he is at Seagate Technology, which he joined over 17 years ago.

Given their academic and professional focus, they both believed in the power of education and how a good education would enable future generations in Armenia to make a measurable impact on the country. Ara had heard about AUA since its opening in the early 90s. Still, it was not until last year that he had the opportunity to visit the campus in Armenia, accompanying his brother Ardem, the 2021 Nobel Prize laureate who delivered the keynote address at the 2022 AUA Commencement. During that visit, Ara witnessed firsthand the University’s history and accomplishments over the past three decades and was struck by AUA’s record of development and advancement. On the same occasion, Ara had a conversation with Aram Hajian, dean of the Akian College of Science and Engineering, as well as Dr. Armen Kherlopian, and learned about the University’s plans to expand its science and engineering curriculum parallel to the upcoming construction of the new AUA Science and Engineering building

The Patapoutians believe AUA is the institution rightly positioned to realize their vision for Armenia’s sustainable development. As Ara sums up, “Our desire is to see a stable democracy in Armenia. To achieve that, the country needs to have a strong economy. It looks like Armenia’s path to gaining such economic self-sufficiency can be attained through advancements in high technology. For that, the country would need strong STEM education, and we trust AUA is the right institution to deliver that.” 

 Through their philanthropy, the Patapoutians epitomize the conviction that education is the ultimate agency for sustainabledevelopment. In that regard, they are confident AUA will equip its students with the knowledge and skills in science, technology, and engineering, paving the way for Armenia’s progress on a national scale. 

The Patapoutian family sets a commendable example as role models, with their daughters, Talia and Tessa, achieving milestones in their academic pursuits. Talia, a graduate of Duke University, holds a double major in economics and psychology and currently serves as a research lead at an agency dedicated to collaborating with innovative early stage startups. Meanwhile, Tessa is pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2016, Tessa had the opportunity to experience AUA firsthand through its summer study abroad program, where she enrolled in the Armenian Language and Culture and Global Perspectives and Site Stories courses. 

As a family, the Patapoutians firmly believe in the importance of education and investing in human capital, especially within a smaller country like Armenia. “Our family believes in the power of STEM and the profound impact that science and engineering can have on human lives. The American University of Armenia's commitment to expanding STEM education will help strengthen Armenia's economy, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and nurture a highly skilled workforce. We are proud to be supporting that commitment.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. AUA’s Office of Development stewards the University’s philanthropic efforts exclusively for educational purposes.