Melkonian Alumni and Friends
2003-10 Armand Ayaltin

Official Website
2003-10 Armand Ayaltin



As a Melkoniantsi, I would like to question the “common sense” approach of the writer Mr. Dorian, who insists that “Melkonian should be sold”. All the “reasons” presented in the article, for such an act, seem to display “more emotion” by Mr. Dorian himself, since he fails to present any factual reason for promoting his opinion as to why “Melkonian should be sold”. Under what and whose authority is this demands made?

The article opens up by a poem the author remembers from his younger years, to re-enforce his opinion that the Melkonian Institute has lived its glory, it is now time to sell it and move on, hardly a substantial fact in support of a reason to dispose of the “Institute”.

Mr. Dorian’s attack on the “low” educational standard and “prestige” of Melkonian in comparison with other educational Institutions in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Armenia seems to be his own opinion and evaluation, he has not backed up his claims with any factual and statistical evidence.

As for the alleged financial unsustainability of the Melkonian Institute, before we get emotional and throw the baby with the bath water, I would urge an independent audit and assessment of the financial status and management of the School. This could be spearheaded by the Melkonian Alumni.

Reading the article I was left with the feeling that, any effort to want to preserve Melkonian was being emotional and selling it would presumably be rational. If the reasons given in the article are rational, I would opt for the emotional.

I would urge all the Melkoniantsis in support of sustaining our Institute, everywhere, to connect with their Alumni Organizations immediately, and let them know of their desire to stand behind their School. Make a feasibility study to see if Melkoniantsis can run the school for Melkoniantsis.

Over the decades AGBU has done a wonderful job with our educational institutions, we are grateful for the selfless efforts of the Organization in this regard. At the present, with pressing needs in Armenia, Melkonian may be presenting a special case on the AGBU resources. If the burden can be lightened by a friendly “transfer” to a Melkonian Alumni Board for the “in budget” administration of the Institute, we may have preserved one of our foremost intellectual treasures.

Mr. Dorian and his co-thinkers seem convinced that the Melkonian Institute has been in chronic deficit for many years. If this is true, why the Board of Directors and Trustees haven’t remedied the situation with due diligence? Why should anyone believe that the millions realized from the sale of the Melkonian properties now, will “be better used” on other projects, as Mr. Dorian asserts. Why blame the Institute and label it an unsustainable project, when perhaps viable adjustments in its financial administration in the past, might have prevented the present situation?

In this age of rapid communication, I have had the opportunity to talk with many of my Melkoniantsi and non-Melkoniantsi friends around the world, following the press discussions of our Institute's fate. My attention was strongly drawn to the feelings of support and good-will towards the AGBU, equally clear and strong was the message, that we took very seriously any rumors, threatening the existence of our Institute. For Melkoniantsis therefore the issue is not against any “body” or Organization, it is for the welfare of our Institute.

While few would disagree with Mr. Dorian that “Armenia would write our history”, it would be foolish to think that we should entertain the sale of our diasporan experience, wisdom and treasures for “many millions of dollars” in order to presumably better use the funds either in Armenia or somewhere else. Is this a rational proposition?

Mr. Dorian has failed in presenting his “non-emotional” reasons convincing enough for the disposal of the Melkonian Institute properties. He has failed in presenting to us the core issue behind the demands for closing the “Institute”. In the process, he and others with similar “vision”, have done great harm to the reputation, welfare and the future of one of our greatest diasporan institutions and by association, to our nation. What parent would send their son and/or daughter to a school whose fate seems to be under question and at the whim of article writers in the print media?

The author’s leading questions, towards the end of his article, to his own bias and dare I say emotional answer to them all, do nothing in educating the public –assuming that, educating the readers with facts, is the purpose of such articles- for an informed and unbiased point of view, in this regard.

The questions brought into the discussion cloud the real issue of the matter, which appears to be the financial management of the Institute. If this is the case, let us all focus on the issue at hand and resolve it in a positive and constructive manner rather than write articles on why Melkonian should be sold. The departure point for seeking any solution to the apparent problem, should never include the closing down and the sale of the Melkonian properties.

The last paragraph of the article is revealing. The writer has “excellent reason to believe that the Board of Directors of AGBU will use the proceeds of the sale of MEI with imagination, foresight and passionate devotion etc..”. Does that mean that Mr. Dorian is privy to information that has been kept covert? Is this a slip of the pen, or is it an intentional leak? Has the sale of the Institute already been decided by the Board and are such media articles a means of preparing the public opinion for the “inevitable” event? Why not use a little bit of the imagination, foresight and passionate devotion that Mr. Dorian is alluding to, in preserving what we have now, rather than starting a new venture with unknown pitfalls?

October, 2003