Sarkes Tarzian


Honorary Degree (1975)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


The story of Sarkes Tarzian repeats a pattern familiar in America - the immigrant lad who builds a highly successful professional career and accepts every opportunity to show his gratitude to his adopted country. Born in Kharpoot, Armenia, at the turn of the century, he was brought to America at the age of seven.
Fortuitously, his bent and talents led him as a young man to seek an electrical engineering degree at the University of Pennsylvania at the onset of the technological revolution in the communications industry. Upon his graduation, he became Chief Product Engineer of the Atwater-Kent Manufacturing Company. Combining study with his work, he completed his master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania in three years and continued with Atwater-Kent until his appointment as Chief Engineer for the Argentina plant of the Radio Corporation of America nine years later. When RCA elected to locate a plant in Bloomington, Sarkes Tarzian was transferred here in 1940 to help organize it and serve as Chief Engineer. Soon afterwards, the local RCA plant became the headquarters for the company's proximity fuse project during World War II, and Mr. Tarzian was made director of the total RCA production of the fuse.

Then in 1944 he formed a manufacturing firm in Bloomington which specializes in television tuners, selenium rectifiers, closed circuit television systems, and radios. Sarkes Tarzian, Inc., was chartered in 1949. The company now has plants at Jasper, Indiana and Brownsville, Tennessee, and in Mexico, India, and Taiwan, in addition to the parent division. A complementary activity has resulted in Mr. Tarzian's ownership and operations of WTTS-AM and WGTC-FM, Blooming-ton; WTTV-TV and WATI-AM, Indianapolis; and WPTH-FM, Fort Wayne.

A loyal alumnus of his university, he serves on its Board of Trustees, sponsors its Chair of Armenian History and Culture, and has been accorded such honors as an honorary LL.D. degree, selection as Indiana Penn Man of the Year, and the D. Robert Yarnall Award of the Engineering Alumni Society.

His professional recognition includes selection as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and membership in Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi. He is Vice-Chairman of the Technical Committee on All-Channel Television of the Federal Communications Commission.

Mr. Tarzian's state and local leadership has been cultural, educational, political, and humanitarian. He is a trustee of Herron Art Institute and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Indiana Institute of Technology. He is a Director of the Indiana Forum and of the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation and was Vice-President of the State Chamber of Commerce in '72 and '73. He has headed successful drives for the funding of a Boy Scout Camp, a major addition to a local hospital, and a new facility for the local Salvation Army unit.
His affiliations range from charter membership in the Society of Television Pioneers to the Friars Senior Society and Faculty Associate of the Indiana University Graduate School of Business.
Among his numerous honors, Sarkes Tarzian has received the Good Citizen Award of the Citizens Forum, the Man of the Year Award and the Service Above Self Award of the Rotary Club, the Man of the Year Award of the Ararat Square Club of Delaware Valley, the Distinguished Service Award of Kiwanis Club, the Governor's citation for distinguished service, and the honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the Indiana Institute of Technology.

Despite his demanding schedule of activities, Mr. Tarzian and his wife are world travelers. They have two children.