Few names in modern Armenian academia carry as much authority, popularity and esteem among Armenians of all backgrounds as that of Armenian-American Professor Richard Gable Hovannisian. His passing at age 90 on July 10, 2023 in Los Angeles marks the end of the seminal age in post-Genocide scholarship—an era in which the children of Armenian genocide survivors took it upon themselves to enlighten the world to the story of their ancestors, combining their intellectual gifts with the rigors of academic inquiry and documentation to elevate Armenian History to an academic subject. The veracity and legitimacy of the research and compelling presentation of content ultimately earned the respect among the academic community as well as political realms, laying the groundwork for many Armenian chairs and departments in some of the leading universities in America and abroad. As the first Chair of the Armenian Educational Foundation Endowment in Modern Armenian History at UCLA, the native-born Californian became the standard-bearer for subsequent generations of historians pursuing Armenian Studies.
AGBU was among the many institutions and organizations who sought out Dr. Hovannisian as an inspirational voice in the pursuit of Armenian Studies, as he served as a role model for new generations of other scholars who would also forgo more lucrative careers to become masters of Armenian history. AGBU called upon him to participate at our panel discussions or lectures on important topics relevant to Armenians and our chapters were proud to feature him as a guest speaker at their local events. He was also very gracious to agree to appear in a number of short-form videos in our AGBU WebTalks series. His segments on the history of the First Republic of Armenia are particularly fascinating. Having authored a four-volume book on the subject, he was able to see its significance in the future formation of the Armenian independent state a half century later. AGBU President Berge Setrakian spoke about the legacy he leaves behind: “For all his books, lectures, awards and accomplishments, the prodigious Dr. Hovannisian was a truly authentic being who stated his theses with courage, conviction, and passion. That is the bar that he has raised, as new chapters in Armenian history are yet to be chronicled, analyzed, and presented to the world.”
AGBU extends its heartfelt condolences to the Hovannisian family.