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From Past to Present to Progress

Evening view of main campus facing east from Hedrick Hall
A $20 million gift establishes The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, benefiting the community on campus and beyond.

Fifty years ago, UCLA established its first endowed chair in Armenian studies. Now, during UCLA’s centennial celebrations, a $20 million gift marks a new milestone in Armenian studies and outreach to Armenian communities.

Announced at a high-profile reception in November, the estate gift from the late Kirk Kerkorian has established The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, which will be housed in the UCLA International Institute. The first initiative of its size and scope, the interdisciplinary institute will integrate and expand the university’s existing academic offerings and global partnerships, creating a world-class research center and platform for public outreach.

Expanding Scholarship and Partnership

“The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA is a testament to Mr. Kerkorian’s generosity and extends his unparalleled legacy,” says Dr. Eric Esrailian, chief of UCLA’s Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases and close friend of Kerkorian. “With this new institute, the university will continue to keep the promise to remember Armenia’s history, to recognize the impact Armenians are making at UCLA and in our community, and to facilitate scholarship and collaborations around the world in perpetuity.”

As part of the institute, the Center for Armenian Studies will attract top faculty and visiting lecturers, support graduate and postdoctoral research, and teach language classes. These activities will provide the academic foundation for the institute’s Programs for Public Impact, which will include new and ongoing projects in archaeology, the arts, business and law, engineering, health policy and medicine, information technology, and social policy. These efforts will leverage UCLA’s expertise in collaboration with Armenian institutions and the Armenian diaspora.

A Fitting Place for Promise

“The Promise Armenian Institute will be a model of UCLA’s engagement with our global and local communities. This generous gift will benefit all of UCLA and beyond,” says Cindy Fan, vice provost for International Studies and Global Engagement.

“We are delighted to have The Promise Armenian Institute join the International Institute’s array of interdisciplinary research centers on world regions and global issues,” says Chris Erickson, senior associate vice provost and director of the International Institute.

Following the U.S. House of Representatives’ resolution to recognize the genocide, the launch of The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA signals the university’s commitment to continue learning from the past as well as bettering the future. 

Published December 2019

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