Dr. Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian at the Armenian Assembly’s event in 1986 featuring guest speakers Dr. Richard Hovhannissian and Ken Khachigian
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) mourns the passing of former Board Co-Chair and longtime Assembly Member Dr. Mihran Agbabian, who played a critically important role during the transformative years of the 1990s, with the Republic of Armenia’s Independence and the development of strong United States-Armenia relations.
“Dr. Mihran Agbabian’s spirit, character, and great sense of humor was inspiring to all who were fortunate to know him. His generosity, dedication, and commitment to the Armenian Assembly and preservation of our Armenian heritage knew no bounds. He was a humanitarian whose contributions touched the lives of so many people. Dr. Agbabian was a gem, admired and respected by all. The Armenian people benefited greatly from his interest and generosity as did the Assembly, and we are deeply grateful. His passing is a tremendous loss,” stated Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian and Assembly President Carolyn Mugar.
“It was always such a pleasure to hear his ideas and comprehensive thinking. I loved working with him,” Mugar added.
Dr. Mihran Agbabian (far right) with prominent leaders of the Armenian Assembly in 1986
Dr. Agbabian and his wife Elizabeth have been members of the Assembly since its formative years. Dr. Agbabian participated in the Airlie House conference that established the Assembly in 1972. He was Co-Chairman of the Assembly from 1982-1983, served on the Board of Directors from 1979-1986, and was an Executive Committee Member in 1980. Mrs. Elizabeth Agbabian served on the Assembly’s Board of Directors from 1992-1999. In addition, longtime community leaders, Dr. and Mrs. Agbabian, hosted many special events in Los Angeles that contributed to the expansion of the Assembly’s membership base and support in southern California.
Their sons, Bryan and Michael, participated in the Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program in Washington, D.C. in 1981 and 1990 respectively. Michael was a keynote speaker at the Assembly’s 2017 Newport Beach Gala honoring the 40th anniversary of the Summer Internship Program. Valina Agbabian, Bryan’s wife, currently serves as the Assembly’s State Chair, and is based in San Francisco, California.
Vahe Ghookassian, Alina Abedian Ghookassian, Michael Agbabian, Dr. Mihran Agbabian, Elizabeth Agbabian, Valina Agbabian, and Bryan Agbabian at the Armenian Assembly’s 2017 Newport Beach Gala honoring the 40th anniversary of the Summer Internship Program
Dr. and Mrs. Agbabian played a critical role in establishing the American University of Armenia (AUA). Created afresh to western educational standards, the institution is now considered one of the best in the country. The Agbabian family is also supportive of many groundbreaking initiatives in California, including the opening of the Republic of Armenia’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, and have long been guiding stewards in the Armenian Evangelical Church.
Dr. Agbabian was a Co-Founder and President Emeritus of AUA, as well as a Professor Emeritus of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). For 20 years, he led the consulting engineering firm, Agbabian Associates, before joining the USC faculty as Chairman of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. He received his M.S. in Engineering from California Institute of Technology in 1948, and his Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1951. Dr. Agbabian was an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.
Dr. Agababian is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the Sahag-Mesrob Medal from His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos and Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians; the Saint Mesrob Medal from His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the See of Cilicia; and the Saint Vartan Medal from His Holiness John Peter XVIII, Catholicos of the Armenian Catholic Church. In 2001, he received the Movses Khorenatsi Medal from the President of the Republic of Armenia for his contributions to educational development. In 2017, Elizabeth Agbabian was also awarded the Movses Khorenatsi Medal.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.