In Memoriam: Aso O. Tavitian (1940-2020)

News | April 25, 2020

The EastWest Institute (EWI) respectfully acknowledges the passing of Aso O. Tavitian, co-founder and CEO of Syncsort, Inc., noted entrepreneur, philanthropist and connoisseur of the arts. Tavitian died on April 21, 2020 at the age of 80.

EWI is gracious and humbled by Tavitian’s informed insight, thoughtful leadership and generous support of the institute over many years. EWI President and CEO Dr. William Parker remembers Tavitian fondly:

"Aso Tavitian was a man with the highest level of integrity, intellect and care for his fellow man. I have lost a dear friend and mentor. The world is fortunate to have had Aso bless us and will miss his warm smile and kind heart."

Aso O. Tavitian was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1959. He fled Communist Bulgaria with his family to Beirut, Lebanon, and later immigrated to New York in 1961, as a Cold War refugee. He attended Columbia University and graduated in 1965 with a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering. In 1969, he co-founded Syncsort, Inc. and served as CEO from 1975-2008 and continued to be involved with Syncsort serving as a board member until 2015.

In 1995, he established and funded the Tavitian Foundation with the intention of strengthening the governance of the Republic of Armenia as well as providing educational opportunities for individuals of Armenian ethnicity.

Tavitian later established the innovative Tavitian Scholars Program at The Fletcher School Law and International Diplomacy at Tufts University, in 1999. The program played an instrumental role in training more than 300 Armenian public servants who are now employed in mid-to-senior level positions in Armenia’s Central Bank, President’s Office, Parliament, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Economy, and other government institutions. 

Throughout his life, Tavitian supported research on significant issues affecting globalization, as well as his love of the arts. Tavitian's efforts have been recognized by the Armenian government, which awarded him the Order of Honor in 2017, as well as the Prime Minister's Medal in 2012. He also received Honorary Doctorates from Tufts University and Yerevan State University.

Tavitian was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Board of Trustees of the Frick Museum in New York, NY and the Board of Trustees of the Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA.

He is survived by his loving wife, Isabella, his stepdaughter, Natalie Barnett (Forrest Barnett) and granddaughter, Annika.