Haigazian University in Beirut



Tigran Ghanalanyan

Expert of the Center for Armenian Studies, `Noravank’ Foundation
Among the educational institutions of the Armenian Diaspora Beirut’s
Haigazian University – the only higher educational institution in the
Diaspora – holds a prominent place.

After the formation of the Diaspora one of the main challenges the
Armenian Evangelical Church faced was the organization of the
education process in the Armenian communities. The Armenian
Evangelical educational institutions played an important role in the
educational sphere of the Armenian Diaspora which has manifested
itself best of all in the activity of Haigazian University.

Haigazian University in Beirut was established in 1955 as a college
with English as a language of instruction. It was named after the
former head of the gymnasium in Konia Armenag Haigazian.

It was founded by the Armenian Missionary Association of America
(AMAA) and Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East
(UAECNE). The university is managed by the board of trustees, 2/3 of
which consists of the representatives of the AMAA and 1/3 of the
representatives of the UAECNE. On March 25, 1966 the Ministry of
Education of Lebanon recognized the Haigazian College as an
institution of higher education. The B.A. and B.S. degrees granted by
the college were recognized to be equivalent to the license granted by
the Lebanese University. In 1996 the Haigazian College was authorized
to offer several graduate programs at the master’s level and be called
Haigazian University1.

In 1955-1989 Haigazian was a college; in 1990-1996 – College
University and since 1996 it has been a university. And though the
language of instruction is English the subjects referring to Armenian
and Arab cultures are taught correspondingly in Armenian and Arabic.
There are many Armenian students and students of other nationalities
>From Lebanon and other countries of the Middles East studying at the
university. In the first year after its foundation the number of the
students was 43, in 1975-1976 – 650, and in 2003 – 543. The main
purpose of founding this university was to provide the Armenian
communities in the Middle East with high-quality teachers,
intellectuals and ministers of the Armenian Evangelical Church. In
1996 Haigazian started granting Masters Degrees in pedagogy,
psychology and management. Haigazian University has the Department of
Armenian Studies which activity has been greatly contributed by Rev.
Dikran Kherlopian, Dikran kuyumjian, Vahe Oshagan, Yervant Kassouny,
Levon Vardan and other. Today all the Armenian students of the
university must follow at least two subjects relating to the Armenian
studies. Haigazian University has separate Armenian Library which is
supplemented every year by the books in Armenian and in other
languages bought from Armenia and other countries. Since 1970 the
university has been publishing `Haigazian Armenological Review’,
`Haigazian Herald’ (in English) student produced newspaper and `Focus’
(in English) student yearbook2. Besides, the following periodicals are
also placed on the web-site of Haigazian – INSPIRIT – The Haigazian
University Newsletter and HUBS Business Review3. There are a number of
student clubs and associations in the university.

The most remarkable among the Armenian periodicals is, of course,
`Haigazian Armenological Review’ which was started in 1970. The
editorial of the first issue of `Haigazian Armenological Review’
reads: `By initiating the HAIGAZIAN ARMENOLOGICAL REVIEW the
Department of the Armenian Studies of Haigazian College took another
step for fulfilling its mission. We believe in the necessity and right
of existence of such a periodical just as we believe that it can turn
into a meeting place for our intelligentsia interested in different
issues of Armenology. It is safe to say that publishing of HAIGAZIAN
ARMENOLOGICAL REVIEW will even more stimulate interest and excitement
which has been shown recently in regard to the Armenology as well as
it will be an impulse for a new quest and researches. The strength and
capabilities from abroad, undoubtedly, do not run out. Of course, we
seek cooperation between the representatives of Armenian
intelligentsia. The pages of HAIGAZIAN ARMENOLOGICAL REVIEW will be
open for those who are aware of the price of the substantiated and
objective words’4.

The following persons occupied the post of the president of Haigazian
University – Dr. John Markarian (1955-1966, 1972-1982), Dr. Gilbert
Bilezikian (1967-1971), Dr. Verne Fletcher (1983-1985), Rev. Dr. John
Khanjian (1995-2002) and Rev. Paul Ara Haidostian (2002 – present). In
1966-1968 Joseph Spredley was the acting president and in 1985-1995
the university was managed by Vilma Cholakian5. Big role in the
establishment of Haigazian University was played by Rev. Dikran
Kherlopian who was the first head of the Department of the Armenian
Studies at the university.

The graduates of the university receive Bachelor and Master Degrees
which are recognized by the government of Lebanon and Association of
American Colleges and Universities.

Haigazian has two directions of teaching (schools): 1. Science and
humanities; 2. Business Administration and Management. The school of
science and humanities includes three faculties – Faculty of Sciences
– Division of Natural Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Medical Laboratory
Sciences, Nutrition Sciences and Dietetics, Physics) and Division of
Mathematical Sciences (Computer Science, Mathematics). The other one
is the Faculty of Social Sciences which includes sociology,
psychology, social work, political science and education. In the
spheres of psychology and education both the BA and MA Degrees are
granted. As for the Faculty of Humanities it includes Arabic, Armenian
studies, English, English literature, history, music, philosophy,
religion, art and intercultural studies. The Faculty of Business
Administration and Management plays an important role as a center for
business education and study. All the leading programs of the faculty
are accredited by the Ministry of Education of Lebanon. Today the
faculty grants BBA and BA degrees putting stress on bookkeeping,
tourism and information system management, finances, advertising and

The university also pays attention to the spiritual development of the
students so there is a special position of a Campus Minister. Besides
the spiritual sphere the other important mission of the university is
to preserve the Armenian language and culture. The Department of the
Armenian studies grants the academic degree in this sphere and is
designed to provide a solid academic foundation in Armenian letters,
history, politics, and culture. The program intends to prepare
students for teaching in Armenian schools and for community service
and leadership, as well as for graduate studies. This Department
provides the Armenian component of the general education program too.
It also helps the Armenian library, publishes researches and holds
public lectures and cultural events.

The subjects relating to the history, literature, political issues of
Lebanon are emphasized in the educational programs. Lecturers and
student groups initiate visits to historic places.

In 2005 the 50th anniversary of the university was celebrated. The
guest-list of the event underlines the importance of the university:
the members of the Lebanese government, the representative of Lebanese
president’s office, the member of the Lebanese parliament Hakob
Bagratouni, the representatives of the prime-minister and Ministry of
Education, the Head of the Lebanon Dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic
Church Bishop Vardan Ashakarian, the president of Union of the
Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East Rev. Megerdich
Karageozian, the rector of the YSU Radik Martirosyan, Head of the
Armenian Evangelical Church Rene Levonian, the executive director of
the AMAA Andy Torigian and others. The delegations from Armenia, U.S.,
Canada, Iran, Cyprus and Syria were present. The then Minister of
Foreign Affairs of Armenia Vardan Oskanyan was the honorary guest7.

The eager cooperation of Haigazian University with the educational
institutions from Armenia is important. The relations with the
institutions from Armenia are of special significance. In this aspect
the cooperation of Haigazian with the Yerevan State University should
be mentioned. On October 3, 2009 cooperation agreement was signed by
the president of Haigazian University Paul Haidostian and the rector
of the YSU Aram Simonyan: `Both universities acknowledging that
cooperation for the academic and educational purposes is irreplaceable
stimulus for their development undertake the responsibility to create
all the conditions for the exchange of their employees, students and
publications’ 8.

The important role in the activity of the Haigazian University is
taken by the AMAA. It particularly stands out for its financial
support. From the very beginning the founders of the university tended
to create the opportunity for the students from Armenian Diaspora who
wanted to receive education but did not have sufficient material means
to get it. Due to the scholarship fund no prepared applicant is
rejected to receive education9. Today the doors of the university are
opened for anyone, despite his/her religious or national affiliations.

It is necessary to mention that many of the graduates of Haigazian
University hold appointments in different organization in the Armenian
Diaspora. It is remarkable that the graduates of the university are
eagerly involved in the community life of not only Armenian community
in Lebanon but also in the Armenian community organization in other

>From the point of view of the development of the university the campus
and material and technical resources are important. In this aspect the
reconstruction of the building of the university is remarkable. On
April 29, 2010 the new repaired building opening ceremony on which the
prime-minister of Lebanon was present took place11.

In 2011 the number of the Haigazian students was 800, the number of
university faculty exceeds 100 and the number of the administrative
staff is 55. Therefore the number of the university graduates has been
3 thousand people12. The ethnic composition of the students of the
university is remarkable. As it was mentioned before there is no
ethnic discrimination on behalf of the university. Thus, according to
the data for 2007 51% of the students of the university were the
Armenians and 49% – foreigners13.

Among the researches carried out by Haigazian University the studies
referring to different problems of the Armenian Diaspora have always
stood out. In order to make this works more organized and
comprehensive in 2012 the Armenian Diaspora Research Center was

On January 25, 2012 the opening of the Armenian Diaspora Research
Center took place. The representative character of the participants of
this event proves its significance. In particular the Head of the
Armenian Dioceses in Lebanon Archbishop Kegham Khacherian, the
extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Armenia to Lebanon
Ashot Kocharyan, the former president of the Lebanon University,
ex-minister Dr. Adnan Seyit Husseini, members of parliament, the
representatives of national, partisan unions, etc. were present.
President of university Dr. Paul Haidostian underlined the main
importance of the Armenian Diaspora Research Center and said: `The
availability of the exceptional cultural contribution of the
Armenians, their marked and numerous presence in Lebanon promotes the
perception of Haigazian as the most natural and consistent place for
the study of the Armeniancy and Armenian Diaspora in the Near East’14.
The director of the Center is Dr. Antranik Dakessian.

Thus, Haigazian University in Beirut is one of the most remarkable
educational institutions in the Armenian Diaspora. Being the only
higher educational institution in Diaspora it stands out against the
background of both Lebanese or generally Armenian Diaspora educational
institutions and Armenian Evangelical educational facilities.

Being established in 1955 as a college, Haigazian has a 57-years long
history. Facing some obstacles it managed to develop in all necessary
fields and become a university. As a higher educational establishment
the university plays an important role in the life of the Armenian
community in Lebanon which manifests itself in both passing necessary
modern knowledge to the students and in providing their involvement in
the Armenian language, history and culture. Working with the
foreigners the university contributes to the presentation of the
Armenian culture in the foreign environment.

The development of the relations between Haigazian University and
other educational institutions of the Armenian Diaspora is of great
importance. It can contribute to the consolidation of ties not only
between the educational institutions but also between the communities
in general. Of course it will be difficult to underestimate eager
cooperation of the university with the Armenian educational and
academic institutions. The experience accumulated by Haigazian
Univsersity can be useful for both organization of the educational
process in different Armenian communities in Diaspora and in the
aspect of the development of the educational system in Armenia.
Despite the gradual weakening and decrease of the Armenian community
in Lebanon, Haigazian University still has potential for the
educational and research development.

1 Armenian Evangelical Church, Yerevan, 2002, N 3, p. 5 (in Armenian)

2 Encyclopedia of Armenian Diaspora, Yerevan, 2003, p. 305-306 (in Armenian)


4 «Haigazian Armenological Review», Beirut, 1970, p. 7 (in Armenian)

5 Encyclopedia of Armenian Diaspora, Yerevan, 2003, p. 306 (in Armenian)

6 Armenian Evangelical Church, Yerevan, 2002, N 3, p. 6-7 (in Armenian)

7 Ibid, 2005, N 3, p. 7:

8 Idid, 2009, N 4, p. 18

9 AMAA News, 2005, N 3, p. 2.

10 Aniv, Moscow, 2009, N 3 (18), (in Russian)

11 Armenian Evangelical Church, Yerevan, 2010, N 2, p. 9:

12 Ibid, 2011, N 4, p. 4:

13 Forum, Glendale, 2007, N 2, p. 30.

14 Opening of the Armenian Diaspora Research Center in Lebanon

`Globus’ analytical journal, #2, 2013

Another materials of author

From: A. Papazian