The evening program began with the official opening of the newly established Center for Information, Democracy and Citizenship (CIDC), which aims to support democratic development and civic society in Bulgaria and the region of Southeast Europe with a series of programs. President David Evans, AUBG Professor Robert Phillips and the Center’s newly appointed director, Tihomira Doncheva, all spoke at the event.
“AUBG has become increasingly influential in the Balkans and in the region,” said President Evans. “It has been a standout for educating students for democratic citizenship already. Our alumni are all over the world doing great things in business and entrepreneurship, in government and education, in science, and assuming leadership roles in NGOs. This is a remarkable achievement for a young institution.”
“Every one of you has been making this possible,” said Board of Trustees Chair Michael Marvin at the Gala opening. “And if you look at it, the last few years have been a little more difficult – the worst pandemic we have had, the war. But what it also gives us is a chance to see what every one of you is made of. And I cannot tell you how proud I am of all our students, faculty, and staff. When you think of 30 years from now, I hope that the people then will look back and think of you as we think of the people that made this all possible over the last 30, and congratulate you as we can congratulate them.”
“Let me congratulate you on the great influence that AUBG has on both university and non-university audiences,” said Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried. “You truly represent the best in American education, educational values, and excellence. 2021 is the 16th consecutive year in which global freedom has retreated. Faced with these great threats, democracy needs defenders: we must now, more than ever, unite to defend democratic ideals and preserve freedoms, peace and prosperity by adhering to our values. We need institutions and future leaders in Bulgaria and abroad who put principles above power. That’s why the CIDC is so important: it will serve as a regional center of excellence for overcoming threats to democracy through a range of academic and other curricula, research, and forecasts on polemical challenges in democratic societies, and cybersecurity, disinformation, and digital media. I want to assure you that the U.S. government will be your partner at every stage of this journey.”
The Co-founder of Telerik and Campus X Svetozar Georgiev (‘00) awarded his fellow alum Stefan Karaivanov (‘01) with the Alumni Recognition Award for his continuous support of his Alma Matter throughout the years and for keeping the alumni spirit. Karaivanov sent a video encouraging more alumni to give back. As part of the people who went up on the stage to receive the award for AUBG Corporate Donor for their constant support and dedication to AUBG were Dimitar Shumarov, CFO of Postbank Bulgaria, and Elvin Guri (‘96), who received the award on behalf of ONE Telecommunications.
The America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) received the Dimi and Yvonne Panitza Visionary Award. Mira Radoslavova, AUBG graduating senior and ABF scholarship recipient, presented the award.
“This recognition has great meaning to ABF and to me personally as I had the privilege of knowing Dimi Panitza,” said America For Bulgaria President and CEO Nancy Schiller. “I know what he did to help found AUBG and to see its growth over the years. He recognized the value of civic engagement in support of democracy. Your education equipped you with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the word democracy with active participation.“
Among the ones who sent their birthday wishes to AUBG were the Board of Trustees representatives and AUBG alumni from different classes. Alumni-populated choir Rolling Tones and Evgeniya Trifonova (‘22) boosted the mood at the event.