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April 18, 2012

Gabrellians endow professorship, undergraduate research grant

Ani and Mark Gabrellian
Ani and Mark Gabrellian

Ani and Mark Gabrellian have established a multidisciplinary professorship to better understand the most vital political and economic issues of our era. The Gabrellians also have permanently endowed an innovation grant for outstanding incoming undergraduates.

The couple has pledged $1.5 million for the professorship and an additional $60,000 to endow the annual Mesrob Mashtots Innovation Grant, which was created by the Gabrellians in 2010.

“I am deeply grateful to Ani and Mark Gabrellian for their commitment to our faculty and students,” says President Joel Seligman. “The breadth of their experience in both the private and public sectors has given them an acute appreciation for scholarship. Their commitment to the next generation is exemplary.”

The Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professorship may combine the fields of business, political science, international relations, history, or other University disciplines and will be focused on the political, economic, global, and historic problems of our time.

“We believe the challenges facing society now and in the future will increasingly require analytical and problem-solving approaches that transcend individual disciplines,” says Ani Gabrellian. “Moreover, we recognize that there is increasing interest among academics and prospective students in multidisciplinary scholarship and teaching.”

Even as Rochester undergraduates, the Gabrellians were drawn to multiple disciplines. Mark Gabrellian majored in both political science and history, graduating in 1979. Five years later, Ani Gabrellian, then Ani Nazerian, received her bachelor’s degree, also as a double major, in political science and economics.

After completing their professional degrees—his in law from the University of California at Davis and hers in business administration from George Washington University—the two worked and met in the nation’s capital. Mark was first in private practice and then represented the federal government as a litigator and work-out specialist in connection with the savings and loan crisis, while Ani became a commercial and investment banker and a financial analyst with the Office of Thrift Supervision. Today, they work together in their New Jersey–based real estate development and management company, Gabrellian Associates.

Through these experiences, says Ani Gabrellian, they frequently witnessed a disconnect between government officials and the private sector arising from each side’s misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of how the other must function.  “We saw how important it is for people in government and business to come up with a more efficient way to work together,” she says. The Gabrellian Professorship, they hope, will help to bridge this divide.

“We believe in the concept of endowment,” adds Mark Gabrellian. “The beauty of an endowment is that it lasts in perpetuity and will grow over time. This is a gift based on a belief in the future.”

By endowing the Mesrob Mashtots Innovation Grant, the Gabrellians also are ensuring that the award will remain a permanent part of the portable research grants program administered by the University’s Admissions Office. The grant is named after the Armenian scholar, Mesrob Mashtots, who invented the Armenian alphabet and authored numerous Armenian hymns and prayers. The award has been given each year to three promising high-school seniors planning to enroll at Rochester. It can be used to fund a summer internship, research job, service-learning project, or other educational experience during the recipient’s undergraduate years.

Both pledges support The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester, a University-wide fundraising campaign that was launched in October 2011 and runs through June 30, 2016.

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