As a respected professor and academic researcher within his field, Dr. David Nanigian knows firsthand the value of education. Currently holding the Dr. Thomas Warschauer Endowed Professorship in Finance at San Diego State University, where he also obtained his undergraduate degree, Dr. Nanigian teaches, conducts research, and directs multiple CFP Board-registered personal financial planning programs. While his journey within academia has been very rewarding, he recently took on another fulfilling endeavor as he established the Dr. David Nanigian Scholarship at the American University of Armenia (AUA), providing veteran students with the same opportunity for a world-class education that he was able to receive.
David is a fourth generation Armenian-American and descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors. In his family, they have found different ways to keep their Armenian roots alive. Growing up in San Diego, he fondly recalls celebrating his heritage through food, making a family bonding experience out of “baking boreg and cherek.” Beyond food, they have also highlighted the importance of Armenian artwork. In San Diego, David is proud to be a “Donor Angel” for the Armenian Artists Project, supporting Armenian artists living and working in Armenia. But perhaps the most significant of his interests and efforts have been the steps he has taken to support education, beginning with his own ascent up the ladder of academia.
Upon completing his undergraduate education, David Nanigian entered the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine’s Merage School of Business, where he was inspired by the research the faculty was performing which stirred up the desire in him to conduct his own research projects. Subsequently, he continued his studies at Texas Tech University, where he obtained his Ph.D. in Personal Financial Planning. “Education has played a key role in developing my knowledge of financial services, shaping my understanding of personal financial planning, and building my skill set as a researcher,” he says.
Dr. Nanigian began his professional career in 2010 as an Assistant Professor of Investments at The American College, before moving on to a traditional teaching setting as an Instructor of Finance at Penn State University. His teaching career continued to evolve as he joined the California State University system, first at Cal State Fullerton in 2016 and then San Diego State University in 2020. Dr. Nanigian expresses that his mission is to empower his students to become the best personal financial planners they can be, and the overarching goal of his research is to help individuals make better investment decisions. “At this point in my career, seeing my former students succeed is what gives me the most joy and also motivates me to continue to deliver upon my mission.”
Scrolling through LinkedIn, David was introduced to AUA from a post promoting the University’s Honoring Those Who Served campaign which aims to provide quality education at AUA for veteran students who have risked their lives to defend Armenia. Passionate about the cause himself, Dr. Nanigian joined in the efforts and established a scholarship to support a veteran student at AUA. “Armenian lives matter to me and I wanted to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who fought to preserve the lives of Armenians. In the words of B.B. King, ‘The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you,’ therefore, AUA’s Veterans’ Campaign was a natural fit for the causes that I am most passionate about,” he says, adding, “I contributed to the scholarship fund to express my gratitude towards AUA’s veteran students for their heroic and selfless service to the Republic of Armenia.”
Invited by AUA Provost Dr. Ellison to visit the AUA campus, David took up the offer and in the Summer of 2021, traveled to Armenia for the first time, where he took in the sights and majestic beauty of the country and witnessed the warmth and friendliness of the Armenian people, “despite the challenging and uncertain times that they are facing.” With the help of AUA, Dr. Nanigian delivered his research presentation on The Historical Record on Active vs. Passive Mutual Fund Performance. “I am grateful to AUA for its hospitality and for its flawless event planning for my research presentation. I was very impressed by the practical relevance of the education that is delivered at AUA which will contribute greatly to the workforce development of the young people in Armenia. The education that is delivered through AUA empowers young Armenians to monetize their unique talents and abilities and, through doing so, contribute to the development of Armenia. I hope that graduates of AUA will remember to give back to AUA so that AUA can continue to grow and develop.”
One of the unique aspects of Dr. Nanigian’s trip was also the occasion of meeting his scholarship recipient, Aram Hokhoyan, who is an AUA business student and also a veteran. “It was great to meet Aram and I’m proud to play a role in supporting his undergraduate studies at AUA. He is a bright and motivated student. I’m sure that he will do great things and I can’t wait to hear about his accomplishments!”
Looking forward to the future, Dr. Nanigian’s vision for Armenia is for the country to become a global center of innovation, where its citizens can take part in developing new technologies to improve the human condition and contribute to making the world a better place, but he feels that the greatest hindrance to that is the obstruction of regional peace. “Armenians need to feel safe in their country—where they don’t have to worry about being attacked by one of their neighbors—in order to be in a state of mind that is conducive to ideation and learning. Armenia needs strong and widespread support from developed nations around the globe. I especially want to see America’s global leaders become more supportive of Armenia and take a more active role in promoting peace and stability in the Caucuses. America’s leaders must be reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” he concludes.
AUA is grateful for the support of Dr. David Nanigian. To learn more about his research, you can visit his Social Science Research Network Author Page.
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, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.