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A Conversation with Dr. Dennis Papazian: Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future

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The Armenian Genocide Research Program within the Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, in collaboration with the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), presents "A Conversation with Dr. Dennis Papazian: Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future," featuring Dr. Dennis R. Papazian, Dr. Mary A. Papazian, and discussion by Michael Bobelian. This event will take place via the Zoom webinar platform and is co-sponsored by the UCLA Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History, the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, the Ararat-Eskijian Museum, and the Armenian Studies Program at California State University, Fresno.

Monday, September 26, 2022
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (Pacific Time)

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Born in the pre-WWII, pre-civil rights American South of Armenian immigrant parents from Istanbul, Turkey, Dr. Dennis Papazian reflects on a quintessentially twentieth-century American life shaped by the challenges of the immigrant experience, his family’s struggle to create a life in a new land, and his determined efforts to secure an education that would ensure a life of security and the promise of the American dream.

Dennis pursued a Ph.D. in Russian history, becoming one of the first American students to study in the then Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. Not only did this experience open the world to him, it also placed him in the center of major geo-political events, teaching him nuance and perspective that would lead him to become a highly sought analyst as the Soviet Union broke apart decades later. Upon his return to Michigan, Dennis went on to live a life of contribution and service and became a key leader in the emergence of an Armenian-American community just finding its footing fifty years after the 1915 Armenian genocide. Dennis’s journey is a classic American immigrant tale. Through it all, he shares his wit, resilience, keen sense of perception, and vision, as well as the memorable characters he meets along the way, as he reflects on his consequential, eventful, and at times surprising life. It is a story that will inspire and give hope to all who join him on his journey.


Dr. Dennis R. Papazian was the founding director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan Dearborn (UM-Dearborn). A graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, Papazian earned his PhD in history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1966. His dissertation was entitled Nikolai Ivanovich Kostomarov: Russian Historian, Ukrainian nationalist, Slavic Federalist. He was a faculty member at the UM-Dearborn from 1962 onward, and a full professor of History from 1971 to 2006. He taught courses in Russian and Armenian history, as well as on historiography, world history, European history, U.S. diplomatic history. He headed at different times the University’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (1966-1968), the Department of Social Sciences (1968-1969), as well as the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (1969-1973). Among other administrative positions, he also was Director of Graduate Studies (1979-1985). In parallel to directing the ARC, Papazian also served as President of the Society for Armenian Studies (1988-1991, 1997-2001) and was the editor of volumes 6 to 11 of the Journal of Society for Armenian Studies (1995-2001).

Dr. Mary Papazian is an experienced higher education leader committed to innovation, impact and inclusion with over a decade as President and CEO of two public universities. Dr. Papazian led San Jose State University, Silicon Valley’s only public university of nearly 45,000 faculty, staff and students through a period of strategic growth, digital transformation, and a global pandemic. Throughout her career, she has developed emerging talent to create a diverse pipeline of future employees and civic leaders who will drive priorities and enable companies and communities to meet the challenges of the 21st century. A scholar of Renaissance and Early Modern Literature with a Ph.D. in English Literature from UCLA, Dr. Papazian has focused on the role of the humanities in our increasingly digital world. She is a sought after speaker on the future of work, digital disruption, alignment between business and education, as well as on the attitudes of emerging generations. She also is a proud Armenian-American dedicated to serving the Armenian community in both the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora and presently serves on the Advisory Board of the Foundation of Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) and as Vice Chair of the Armenian Association of Scholars (ASOF).

Michael Bobelian is an award-winning author, lawyer, and journalist whose work has covered issues ranging from legal affairs to corporate wrongdoing to human rights. Upon graduating from the University of Michigan's Business and Law Schools, Michael worked at a Wall Street law firm before earning a Master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. As a contributing writer at, Michael currently covers the Supreme Court, legal affairs, politics, regulation, high-profile trials, and human rights. He has also written for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Washington Monthly, California Lawyer magazine, Reuters, National Book Review, and various other publications. Michael's first book, Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-Long Struggle for Justice, is the seminal work on the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. Endorsed by human rights chronicler, Adam Hochschild, former California Governor George Deukmejian, and leading scholars in the field, Children of Armenia received Choice Magazine's highest rating.

Sponsor(s): The Promise Armenian Institute, Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Ararat-Eskijian Museum, Armenian Studies Program at California State University, Fresno