ANAU Rector Visits Virginia Tech President

Armenian National Agrarian University (ANAU) Rector, Arshaluys Tarverdyan, visited the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, Sept. 22 to 23, meeting with Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and other upper level administrators and department heads. A memorandum of understanding between the institutions establishes ties of cooperation and friendship to promote mutual understanding and academic, cultural and personnel exchange. 

Rector Tarverdyan was accompanied by Vardan Urutyan, director of the International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education Foundation (ICARE) of ANAU and Aramazd Tarverdyan, a member of the Armenian Civil Service Council and professor at ANAU. Their visit was part of the institutional and capacity development efforts of the Innovation for Agricultural Training and Education (InnovATE)/Armenia project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-Armenia mission and led by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education and Development (OIRED).

Virginia Tech has a long history of working in Armenia. In the 1990s, Angela Neilan, program manager of the InnovATE/Armenia project, was then a Virginia Tech state extension specialist in program development and evaluation and worked with Armenia to develop a strategic plan for agricultural development and marketing. That plan became an extension program run by ANAU that continues today. 

Rector Tarverdyan met with President Sands, Karl Markgraf, Associate Vice President for International Affairs, and Van Crowder, Executive Director of OIRED to discuss the continuation of the institutions’ relationship. The two universities have shared roots in agriculture and global-facing missions focusing on discovery, learning and outreach. Sands noted that ANAU fills a similar role in Armenia to that of Virginia Tech in Virginia. 
“This relationship is important not only for ANAU but also for the whole country of Armenia,” Rector Tarverdyan said. “ANAU’s strengthened programs and faculty will serve all of Armenia.” 

Sands affirmed the relationship’s importance to Virginia Tech’s vision as a global university that offers students international experiences. He said that in Virginia Tech’s recent campus visioning process, called Beyond Boundaries, students were most vocal about being able to travel while continuing their programs of study. The memorandum of understanding between the universities ensures that the relationship will continue even after the InnovATE/Armenia project ends.

Rector Tarverdyan said ANAU could be a “partnership hub” for Virginia Tech and a gateway to the Caucasus and Central Asia regions to help Virginia Tech fulfill its global vision.

To further strengthen ties between the two universities, Rector Tarverdyan also met with other administrators and department heads to discuss the possibility of student and faculty exchanges and the creation of a dual degree. The meetings also focused on topics to help strengthen ANAU such as quality assurance, accreditation, student support services and industry-academia collaboration strategies. 

Rector Tarverdyan said, “We learned about many best practices in teaching methodologies, professional development, and institutional practices, but perhaps more importantly we are bringing back to our university a renewed vision and driving force for future strategies and activities.”

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