Dr. Knar Khachatryan Appointed Inaugural Vice Provost for Integration


YEREVAN, Armenia — Dr. Knar Khachatryan, the former program chair of the American University of Armenia (AUA) BA in Business Program (BAB), assumes her new role as inaugural Vice Provost for Integration in strong competition. In this position, she will realize and advance the Open Center of Excellence strategy, working with various university stakeholders, including deans, program chairs, directors, researchers, and others, to realize a high-performing and sustainable system.

“I could not be more pleased that Dr. Khachatryan will serve as AUA’s first Vice Provost,” remarks Dr. Brian Ellison, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “She brings a vibrant academic background to the position that will ensure her success.”

Dr. Khachatryan joined AUA as a faculty member in the Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics (CBE) in 2013. Since 2015, she has held the position of BAB Program Chair, concurrently serving both academic and administrative roles.

“AUA is a dynamic, vibrant, and growing institution,” she says. “We house great scholars and committed professionals who contribute to the advancement of AUA’s mission. We have motivated and enthusiastic students.”  

Throughout those six years in that position, Dr. Khachatryan has successfully used her expertise and experience in various domains, including curriculum design, student learning assessment, faculty recruitment, and mentoring, student advising, and other strategic initiatives. As Chair of the BAB Program, she has consistently aimed at upholding academic rigor and enhancing student enrollment and retention, while fostering high academic performance and a rich learning experience for students. BAB was established based on high demand and continues to be the largest academic program at AUA with about 700 students. In the initial three years, Dr. Khachatryan’s work demanded intense planning, curriculum and course design, assembling a commensurate faculty, and developing a number of program-related components from scratch. The functional scope and reach of the BAB program required significant effort and commitment, organization, and analytical acumen. 

“The quality of the BAB program is reflected in the fact that, on average, about 80% of graduates secure jobs in Armenia or abroad, while others pursue graduate studies in leading Western universities and business schools, such as MIT, Columbia, and Cambridge,” she asserts.

Dr. Khachatryan’s scholarly activity focuses on exploring various management and business topics through the lenses of economic development and social impact. To date, she has succeeded in generating a number of transdisciplinary research projects. She has been published in International Migration, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Review of Development Economics, and Caucasus Survey, among others. Her scholarly and applied research transcends the traditional boundaries of the discipline and yields more transversal projects, among which are change management and CSR, institutional development and gender, AI and poverty, knowledge transfer and firm performance. Aside from her academic research work, Dr. Khachatryan possesses extensive experience in applied research, of larger or smaller scale and scope, at the international, regional, and local levels. In a number of such projects, she has been the principal investigator. She is currently working on projects with several local and international actors and networks, including civil society organizations and the chambers of commerce, funded by EU, SIDA, USAID, Diku, and Transparency International.

“By promoting research and embedding it into the DNA of all our faculty, we will also boost AUA’s regional and international ranking,” she notes. “Globally, the Open Centers of Excellence have emerged as an important ingredient in the policy mix for realizing higher education and research sector goals.”

Dr. Khachatryan believes that advancing research at AUA must be bidirectional: bottom-up and top-down. She envisions the bottom-up triggers to be the intrinsic motivations of faculty members to advance the frontiers of their disciplines and excel in their respective fields. She proudly exalts that AUA is home to bright scholars who carry out rigorous academic research. Some faculty are also actively engaged in applied research. The top-down triggers lie in the support, faculty development mechanisms, and contract design that the institution provides. 

“We should work on the intersection of both in order to ensure the continuous and sustainable development of the AUA research ecosystem,” elaborates Dr. Khachatryan. “In this light, the advancement of the Open Centers of Excellence will contribute to our goal.” 

As with all other strategic units of the University, Dr. Khachatryan is confident that the institution of the office of the Vice Provost for Integration, congruent to how she views her position, will contribute to the overall AUA mission accomplishment. In particular, she is excited to take the lead in the implementation and advancement of the concept of Open Centers of Excellence working with stakeholders at all levels of the organization. This process will necessitate building significant collaborations and synergies among research and academic programs across the University in order to develop cross-functional capacity for research initiatives, grant programs at the national and international level, and innovative partnerships with various stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as in civil society.  

Dr. Khachatryan is certain that the Centers will meet the diverse needs of the University by providing platforms that promote bottom-up priority setting in research and teaching, and be successful in attracting strong talent to work across functions and disciplines. The Open Centers of Excellence will accordingly further the cognitive and institutional diversification of AUA structures to help bolster the academic system.  

For Dr. Khachatryan, this position and the critical work she aims to realize with colleagues is of utmost importance. She will continue to strive for new models and strategies to connect teaching, research, and service to produce a body of work that has meaning and long-term impact. Being actively engaged in scholarly research, she approaches management by objective metrics and sets clear performance targets, coupled with the analytical methods suitable for carrying out the tasks and activities she envisions in her new role. 

“As an institution, we must ask ourselves what organizational characteristics should be associated with excellence and prioritize the concentration of our resources around raising research quality and productivity, international visibility and attractiveness, and organizational robustness,” she posits. “Obviously, excellence is a moving target, and ours should be calibrated accordingly.”  

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. 

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