Hratch & Carolyn Kouyoumdjian: In Praise of AUA’s Quality Education in Armenia


AUA Pillars and scholarship program supporters Hratch and Carolyn Kouyoumdjian have now joined hands to support the American University of Armenia’s (AUA) ‘Build a Better Future with AUA’ capital campaign, a drive to raise funds for the construction of the University’s new Science & Engineering building.

Hratch Kouyoumdjian was born in Baghdad, Iraq, with his father’s side originally from Talas and his mother’s from Gesariya. He grew up in a large Armenian household with his parents, siblings, and grandparents. Though the primary language spoken at home was Armenian, his elementary schooling was in Arabic, and his high school and college education was in English. 

Afterwards, Kouyoumdjian graduated from a small Jesuit college in Iraq with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. In 1968, he moved to Buffalo, New York where he attended graduate school at the State University of New York and subsequently launched a career as a structural engineer. In 1977, he moved to San Francisco, California and worked for a major engineering firm until he established his own firm in 1987. In 1986, Hratch and Carolyn were married, and had one daughter. Currently retired, they reside in Berkeley, CA.

He recalls learning about AUA through his friendship with co-founder and fourth president of AUA Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, who introduced him to the University and inspired his interest in AUA and subsequent commitment to its advancement. “Soon after that, my wife and I traveled to Armenia, where we visited the campus and met students and several members of the faculty. We were both quite impressed with what had been accomplished in such a brief period of time. Since our first visit, we have returned to AUA on each of our subsequent trips to Armenia,” he says.  

During their first visit to Armenia back in the nascent years of development of the independent republic, Hratch and Carolyn had noted the country’s dire need for modernization and for fostering effective connections with other parts of the world. They also believed that meaningful progress in any part of today’s changing world cannot be achieved without an educated population. “Quality education is a requisite for meaningful progress. AUA is playing a pivotal role in developing the future leaders of Armenia while ensuring its graduates are in a position to compete on a global level,” they say. 

As AUA enhances its commitment to develop science and technology education through the ‘Build a Better Future with AUA’ initiative, the Kouyoumdjians believe that the University’s leadership role will become increasingly propitious in preparing students to address the challenges ahead that require advanced capabilities in science and engineering subjects to enable Armenia’s growth and usher its participation in select global technology markets. 

“AUA is clearly playing a vital role in this growth process. Educating the next generation to become effective leaders and powerful contributors to Armenian society is of utmost importance for the country’s advancement,” the Kouyoumdjians affirm, noting how impressive it is to see the growing number of AUA graduates assuming key positions in the demanding industries that will shape Armenia’s future.