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In Memoriam: Life Trustee Samuel V. Goekjian ’52

Samuel V. Goekjian built his first “home” on American soil at Syracuse University in ’52 and never left his alma mater despite having built an exceptional career in international law and finance that has spanned the globe. After graduating in history from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences, Goekjian remained a dedicated alumnus, a trusted executive advisor, and an active board trustee and philanthropist—all in service to his alma mater. He created a legacy that will touch the lives of Orange for generations to come. Goekjian died on December 9, 2022 at the age of 95.

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Samuel V Goekjian ’52

“I’ve always considered myself a Maxwell man,” Goekjian once said. There he learned “not only about the rights of citizenship, but also about the responsibilities that come with that citizenship.” He took what he learned and made a real difference in the world and in the lives of hundreds of Syracuse students.

Goekjian’s father, Vahram, was an Armenian journalist who escaped the bloodshed in Turkey at the end of World War I. He married another Armenian refugee in Greece and immigrated to Ethiopia to set up a business and raise their two sons, eventually sending them to American boarding school on the island of Cyprus. Goekjian later returned to Ethiopia to work in the Ministry of Education, where one of his duties was to host students at British and American universities. He was presented with a life-changing opportunity—a four-year scholarship to Syracuse University. He came to the campus in 1948 as one of the few international students.

At university, Goekjian demonstrated his diverse skills, interests, and leadership qualities: he was a three letter winner in football, track and tennis (recognized 40 years later by the Syracuse University Athletics Varsity Club as a 1996 LetterWinner of Distinction); he belonged to the Phi Kappa Alpha Honor Society, the Orange Key, and was a Phi Beta Kappa; In his senior year, he was elected president of his junior class, debate society, and men’s student government. In 1952 he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history.

After graduating, Goekjian joined the US Army and served as a mortar gunner in the Korean War. After two years of combat service, he attended Harvard Law School and received his law degree in 1957.

He is fluent in seven languages ​​and has lived on four continents. He navigated the world of international law and business with ease and spent the next five decades working for law firms, corporations or consulting firms with international offices. At Surrey & Morse he was promoted to Managing Partner and oversaw the Finance Committee, International Arbitration department and the Paris and Beirut offices. For nearly ten years he was Chairman and CEO of Consolidated Westway Group Inc., an international trade and agribusiness group. He was the former Chairman and CEO of Intracon Associates LLC, an international management consulting firm based in Washington, DC, and a managing partner of Kile Park Reed & Houtteman, specializing in intellectual property, internet technology and international trade.

He also served as a senior consultant to various United Nations agencies and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. An author of articles on international law and finance, Goekjian has taught at George Washington University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and the Georgetown International Law Institute. He also taught a course in International Economic Development at Maxwell University from 1998 to 2003 as an Associate Professor of International Relations.

Goekjian served his alma mater in many ways. He was first elected to the Board of Trustees in 1997 and served as a voting trustee until 2010, where he served on the academic affairs, enrollment and student experience committees. He had the distinction of being one of the longest-serving members of the advisory board at his beloved Maxwell School, which recognized his services with the 2005 Horizon Award. In 2009, he received the university’s highest alumni honor, the George Arents Award for Excellence in International Business and Law.

As a legacy of his love for the university and commitment to international affairs, he established the Samuel V. Goekjian Foundation for Global Affairs. His philanthropy supported hundreds of summer travel research grants for Maxwell students doing international fieldwork and gave the students the opportunity to gather information and data that would put them in a better position to compete for future research grants. Each summer, the fund provides more than a dozen grants awarded by Maxwell’s Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs. The recipients have used the money to help with airfare, translators and basic expenses.

To mark his 90th birthday, Goekjian committed an additional $250,000 to the fund, which had already surpassed $1 million. In a 2018 Maxwell School News article about the celebration, one of the honorees said, “This is the kind of financial and intellectual generosity that positively changes the course of people’s lives.”

At the time of his death he was living in Washington, DC. He is survived by his children Kenneth, Christopher, Peter and Lisa and six grandchildren.

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