Melissa Bilal, a leading scholar of Armenians in Turkey and director of UCLA’s Armenian Music Program, has been appointed the inaugural holder of The Promise Chair in Armenian Music, Arts, and Culture at UCLA. Bilal is renowned for her work on the history of Armenian music.

The endowed chair will support scholarly research, undergraduate and graduate courses in Armenian music, and academic conferences on Armenian music and performing arts.

“We are grateful for this investment in our ongoing work to deepen understanding of Armenian culture, which will further UCLA’s position as a leader in Armenian studies,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “One of our core responsibilities as an academic institution is to foster a sense of global citizenship and cultural understanding, and expanding our faculty and scholarship in this area is one way we are bringing that commitment to life.”

With a legacy of scholarship on Armenia and its diaspora that dates back more than 50 years, UCLA has established itself as one of the largest and most vibrant centers for Armenian studies outside of Armenia. The new Promise Chair, housed in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, joins two other endowed UCLA chairs devoted to the study of Armenia and Armenians.

“UCLA has long been a leading place for Armenian studies, and it is also a great place for collaboration with other artists and scholars,” Bilal said. “The establishment of this chair will allow us to further expand our offerings for undergraduate and graduate students.”

The Promise Chair in Armenian Music, Arts, and Culture will help the school of music and UCLA advance the university’s mission of strengthening and enhancing both its global and local impact, said Eileen Strempel, the school’s dean. Los Angeles is home to more diasporic communities than virtually any other city in America — with a particularly robust Armenian community — and UCLA’s broader purpose is driven by a responsibility to create a just and prosperous future for both its immediate and extended global communities.

“Having the resources to support the ongoing research of distinguished scholars like Melissa helps our school do its part to fulfill that promise,” Strempel said. “As performers, creators and educators, we operate at the nexus of practice and scholarship most vibrantly when we proactively engage the diverse musical traditions within our city of exceptionally rich cultural diversity.”

Read the full release at the Herb Alpert School of Music website.