Armen Shaomian is keen on being Preston's new faculty principal

It’s not just the students who are excited about moving into Preston for fall 2022. Sport and entertainment management professor Armen Shaomian — the residential college’s new faculty principal — is also eager to meet his future neighbors.

“It's kind of my personality. I really want to learn and get to know the students,” he says. “Why did they choose Preston, why did they come to USC, what are ways we can make their experience more enjoyable, a little easier, because it can be kind of daunting. I'm really trying to figure out ways to bring some of the excitement into Preston.”

Shaomian will be living in Preston with students. He will have his own space in the college, but he wants to share it with students.

“Yeah, it's supposed to be my home, but I want to open it up and try to make it open and inviting,” Shaomian shares. “There’s a grand piano, there's a dining room area and we can do small dinners, maybe with a guest speaker. I’ve got to make it fun. I mean, otherwise, it's like, why do I have the space?” 

Bringing in guest speakers for Preston students is something Shaomian is particularly enthusiastic about. He hopes to establish an “informal but formal leadership series” for the students where they can meet with speakers and leaders from various fields in a personal, unscripted environment. 

“It doesn't have to be in a classroom,” he says. "I feel like when you're in a cozier, more homey environment, it really changes. The conversation is much more comfortable because it's not looked on as, like, a class, it's much more ‘Wow, what a cool experience.’ ”

Shaomian is confident he will be able to provide Preston students with cool experiences thanks to his own background and connections. He has an extensive history in entertainment management and performing arts including being the current president of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association. He is also a classically trained pianist and an active performer. He would like to use connections as a resource for students by bringing in artists and entertainment professionals for gatherings at Preston. He stresses, though, that everything he plans, provides or creates will be based on the interest of the students.

“I'm really going to lean on the interests of the students,” he says. “I have the know-how for building the events and building the experiences, right? So, when I get to learn more from them, and what they like, I'm hoping that's when I can then use my connections in the industry.”

Even if he doesn’t have a direct connection in an industry, Shaomian is assured that he knows someone who does. One person he plans on having as a connection for students is his partner, Wesley Martin, a UofSC law and business school alumnus who works on Capitol Hill. 

Shaomian and his partner will be the first openly gay couple to inhabit the faculty principal space. 

“I just think it's a positive where students come to campus from all kinds of big cities, small towns, villages, you know, and they're seeing this really open world on campus,” he says. “It's a subtle thing, but I think those things matter a lot.”

Shaomian, who officially begins work as faculty principal May 15, plans to continue teaching in sport and entertainment management. 

“It's really what you make of it,” Shaomian says. “You can be a full-time professor and just come and teach, do your thing and go, or you can really get more involved. Maybe I'll eat my words in a year and be like, ‘Oh my God, what do I do?’ but, I don't think so. I'm super excited about this opportunity.”

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