Retired clarinetist donates $100 million to rename Boston University Medical School after his friend

Robert Brown, president of Boston University, said half of the donation money will be used to provide financial assistance as needed and scholarships for future medical students. The quarter will be used to support the awarded professorship, which honors distinguished faculty and funds research. The final quarter of the year will be used to “keep the school at the forefront of teaching and research,” according to a statement from the university.

“We’ve had very few gifts in our history of this magnitude,” Brown said. “It will support generations and generations of medical students.”

Brown said the donation could encourage medical students to pursue important specialties, such as primary care Do not attract many doctors as high paying fields.

“this is is critical in today’s world because medical school is very expensive, and [students] Incurring large debts. “It’s going to end up affecting the disciplines they’re going to get into,” Brown said. “If you can provide financial assistance based on need, you are likely to have more medical students who become internal medicine doctors, pediatricians, or family medicine doctors, which I think is really exciting.”

Avedissian, 85, built a successful career as a clarinetist for the Boston Pops and Boston Ballet Orchestra after graduating from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. But he also has close ties to Boston University School of Medicine through his childhood friend Aram Choubanian, 93. Avedissian, a Rhode Island native, said he and Chobanyan were close neighbors when they were children and are linked by a similar heritage — their parents fled Armenia during the genocide in the 2000s and then resettled to build a new life in Pawtucket.

The two men reconnected later in life, after both attended Boston University and began their radically different but similarly prosperous careers. While Chobanyan was dean of Boston University School of Medicine in 1988, for example, Avedissian applied the risk assessment skills he had developed during his music career to personal financial investments — earning him hundreds of millions of dollars and allowing him to become a philanthropist.

Avedisian said his family set him up for success by emphasizing the importance of education. After reflecting on his personal connections to BU and its medical school, he felt He said donating $100 million to the university’s medical school was the perfect way to give back to a foundation that taught him so much and aims to serve underserved communities.

The donation stirred back and forth on who should honor it.

Brown insisted that the medical school be renamed after Avedisian. But philanthropy is nothing new to Avichia, and he hasn’t done it before He wanted anything named after him. Medical school was no exception. In light of Chobanian’s long list of accomplishments as a cardiologist and his contributions to the BU medical community, Avedisian wanted to rename the school after his friend, instead.

“Who knows me?” said Avedisian. “Well, I made a few bucks, but who knows [Chobanian] In the medical field? Huge number of people. … [His name] It enhances the university’s position in the future.”

But Chobanyan said he didn’t mention his name at school when he wasn’t the one to make the generous donation. The only compromise men found was to honor both names.

“I was overwhelmed by the size of the gift and the fact that my friendship with him, which was so special, also led to a very special contribution to the foundation,” Chobanyan said. “I know it would be of great value to medical school.”

Above all, both men said they would not be as successful as they were without the dedication, encouragement, and support of their families. Choubanian said he is aware of the hardships his parents endured as they fled genocide and raised a family during the Great Depression. Without pushing them to pursue an education, he said, he might not have become the world-renowned cardiologist he is today.

“Personally, I feel that my parents are the reason why I did what I did,” Chobanyan said.

Avedisian agrees.

“Our parents told us, ‘Well, they learned. “That was the call, that was our answer,” Avedisian said. “They are the heroes, not us. This is the way I look at it.”


Katie Mogg can be reached at katie.mogg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter Tweet embed

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