On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA)-funded Student Residence at the American University of Armenia (AUA) officially opened its doors. The long-awaited opening was met with enthusiasm, as AUA community members, U.S. government representatives, USAID staff, Ministry of Education representatives, and other supporters gathered to commemorate the monumental occasion.
The story of the Student Residence began in 2016, when philanthropists K. George and Dr. Carolann Najarian donated a semi-constructed building in the Dzoragyugh district of Yerevan to AUA. Well known for their philanthropic work in Armenia since the days of the Spitak Earthquake and the Karabakh Movement, the Najarians have been long-time supporters of the University. The couple have a longstanding relationship with AUA, dating back to the mid-1990s when Dr. Carolann Najarian lectured at the University on primary health care. The University’s School of Public Health had just launched at the time, and the concept of primary care in Armenia was practically nonexistent. Dr. Haroutune Armenian, the President of AUA at the time, sought out Dr. Najarian’s expertise to help get the Master of Public Health program off the ground.
In 2017, the University was awarded a generous grant of $999,000 by USAID’s ASHA program, for the construction, renovation, and furnishing of the site to accommodate AUA students. The construction was completed in March 2021.
A 25-minute walk from the University, the residence overlooks the Hrazdan gorge and river. The five-story building will house up to 56 students from Armenia’s regions and Abroad. The building has four floors and 28 double-occupancy rooms. Each room contains a heating and cooling unit, refrigerator, and private bathroom. Ramps, an elevator, and large bathrooms on the first floor ensure that students with disabilities can easily navigate the building. The facility is equipped with wireless internet access, laundry machines, and private and communal balconies. Designated spaces for professional activities and social gatherings provide a well-rounded experience, with a lounge area, kitchen, and study room on the ground floor. Through communal living and engagement, the AUA Student Residence will serve as a platform to foster the sharing of knowledge and appreciation of cultural differences among resident international and local students.
In line with AUA’s sustainable values, the Student Residence building is topped with solar panels which generate energy to support the water-heating system. Furthermore, not only
does the building have 24-hour security, but doors to rooms are equipped with an access control system and can only be opened via ID cards. Communal balconies grant students the space to gather with their classmates to reflect on their days and share their ideas as the sun sets over the Hrazdan river with Mount Ararat on the horizon. These seemingly inconsequential moments have the capacity to shed light on identities, values, and aspirations. This addition to the University’s infrastructure will promote democratic values — diversity, inclusion, gender equality, community building, and student engagement and empowerment. In such challenging times for the Armenian nation, it is more important than ever for the future leaders of Armenia — and indeed, the world — to have access to such spaces, through which they will find hope in the collective future and recognize their role in it.
The American University of Armenia is offering exclusive naming opportunities for the AUA Student Residence, to leave a lasting legacy for the University and its students. Through a substantial gift, donors may select to put their name, or the name of a loved one, on the newly constructed residence hall. This will allow for unrestricted resources to maintain the facilities and support the students who will reside in the residence hall while studying at AUA.
Your gift will make a significant and important impact on our academic community, while honoring your legacy or the memory of a loved one. For further information or additional details on the naming process, please reach out to the AUA Office of Development.