Ray S. Doumanian and Jacqueline Doumanian will be honored with the prestigious Outstanding Alumni Award at the annual Top Dog Alumni Awards. The award honors alumni and friends of Fresno State who have made a significant impact through the dedication of time, talent or treasure. Both Ray and Jacqueline have served on the College of Arts and Humanities Advisory Board (AHAB). Currently, Ray is an ad hoc member and Jacqueline is emeriti. The Top Dog Alumni Awards will be televised on ABC 30 at 7 p.m. (PDT) on Sunday, May 1, and streamed online for those outside the Fresno area.
This story is reposted from the Fresno State Alumni Association.
Raymond and Jacqueline Doumanian met at Fresno State in 1966. They were in the same group of friends, both from small farm towns outside of Fresno and with families that had recently immigrated from Armenia. Raymond and Jacqueline shared a lot of the same values. But it wasn’t love at first sight.
Jacqueline said, “We all became really good friends…We would go out for pizza together, go to Yosemite and go hiking together. And when Ray started to let me know he was interested in me, I thought, ‘no, we’re friends.’ But then it just evolved.”
Raymond was studying philosophy and Jacqueline studied art. Jacqueline said, “I think because I was so innocent and naïve, college was a little much for me, so I decided to take a break.” After Raymond earned his bachelor’s degree in 1967, the couple married in 1970 and moved to San Francisco, where Raymond earned a degree in dentistry from the University of the Pacific.
They later moved back to Fresno, and Jacqueline re-enrolled at Fresno State, studying with Joyce Aiken, a leader in the feminist art movement. “I loved it, and it was very eye-opening. And from that class, we opened Gallery 25 in Fresno, which might be the longest-running feminist art gallery that opened during those years; and for a long time it was all women-run.”
“Art really tells the world and history who we are at the time and place that we’re here. And artists work outside the box, so it keeps us from being all black and white. It shows that there are other ways of doing things, more creative ways of doing things. And I think it really drives our culture.”
While Jacqueline became increasingly involved in the arts community, she also opened her own business in Fig Garden Village, a specialty stationery store called Not Just Paper. She ran the business from 1979 to 1992 and was twice named one of Fresno’s Top Ten Professional Women in 1986 and 1990.
At the same time, Raymond had started his own dental practice. He said, “I graduated from dental school, and after two years of full-time practice, I started getting involved in teaching dentistry. And after a number of years part-time teaching, I commuted to San Francisco two days a week to teach while I was practicing.”
Wanting to be different than his own professors in dental school, Raymond pursued more extensive training in education, earning a master’s degree in education from Fresno State in 1982. In that same year, Jacqueline earned a master’s degree in fine art and spirituality. Then, the couple found themselves in San Francisco once again, where Raymond was teaching full-time, and Jacqueline earned a second master’s degree at Holy Names University.
When they returned to Fresno in 1999, the Doumanians knew they wanted to give back to Fresno State students and the community. They were instrumental in the formation of the Arts and Humanities Dean’s Council Fund — which annually sponsors a student scholarship and provides funds for students and faculty within the college that are not provided by the state. The couple also gives regularly to the State Center Community College, KVPR, Valley Animal Center, Fresno Philharmonic and Fresno Filmworks.
The Doumanians have also been very generous with their time. Jacqueline is the earliest and longest-serving member of the College of Arts and Humanities Advisory Board. She also serves on the Armenian Leadership Council, the President’s Commission on the Future of Arts and Humanities, and is a board member for KVPR and the College’s Center for Creativity and the Arts. She previously served as the community relations specialist for CSU Summer Arts.
For her contributions to the arts community, Jacqueline was presented the Horizon Award in 2010 from the Fresno Arts Council.
Although Raymond doesn’t like to serve on boards and committees, he works tirelessly behind the scenes. He was pivotal in raising $200,000 for the University and continuously supports the College of Arts and Humanities’ annual Arts in Motion, which benefits the Dean’s Council Fund. Raymond also calls those who donate to the College of Arts and Humanities to thank them personally.
When asked what has motivated their philanthropy, Raymond said, “I think the reason [being] the families we came from, being [the] first college graduates from our respective families. And we were able to work in the fields at $1 an hour and pay for our education, which isn’t [possible] now. We want to help students to have the same opportunities that we had.”