Distinguished guests at the celebration included His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas (Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit); Mrs. Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha (New Democracy Deputy of the Greek Parliament, member of the Committee on Educational Affairs and President of the Committee on Equality and Human Rights); Professor Traianos Gagos (who spoke on behalf of the Dept. of Classical Studies, University of Michigan); Mr. Chris Tomaras (World Council of Hellenes Abroad -- SAE); Ms. Nancy Biska (Hellenic American National Council); Dr. Kostas Paschalidis (Association for the Study of Greeks Abroad); Ms. Katerina Thanassoula (Voice of Greece, ERT); Mr. George Reganis (American Hellenic Congress); Mrs. Joan De Ronne (Administrator, Assumption Greek Orthodox Church of Detroit); Mr. William Vlahoulis (UBS Vice President of Investments and Financial Advisor to AHEPA Educational Foundation and Foundation for Modern Greek Studies); Mr. and Mrs. John Kaounas (Treasurer, FMGS and Industrialist); Dr. Dimitri and Mrs. Irmgard Pallas who hosted the event.
In 2000, the University of Michigan received a major gift from FMGS that made possible the establishment of the endowed C.P. Cavafy Chair. Since the establishment of the Cavafy Chair, the Modern Greek Program, along with offering a major and minor in Modern Greek Studies, has grown to integrate student scholarships, annual lectures, conferences, panels, library and internet resources, special research projects, study abroad opportunities, and global collaboration into its offerings (made possible in part by an additional annual gift agreement of $15,000 from FMGS). This significant growth, (up to 300 students taking courses per academic year), along with unyielding student and community interest, is what inspired FMGS to move forward in raising money to endow a second Chair, this time in Modern Greek History and Culture. The funds required for the creation of the second Chair will total over two million dollars and may be named after a major donor who is willing to make a significant contribution to leave a permanent legacy for his family. “We have the right experience and a ten-year record of great success, so we are very optimistic,” says Dr. Dimitri Pallas, President of FMGS.
In addition to full classes and successful cultural events, another source of inspiration for FMGS is the global reach of the Modern Greek Program. The University of Michigan Library, together with Google, is in the process of digitizing Greek books in their entirety and making them available online for free. Another example of the Modern Greek Program’s global reach is the Program’s website (www.lsa.umich.edu/modgreek), which contains exclusive, never before released academic and cultural Greek material. “As the members of the Foundation for Modern Greek Studies move forward in their campaign, they know that they are supporting a university which shares its resources with the whole world,” states Prof. Vassilis Lambropoulos, who holds the C.P. Cavafy Chair.
Michigan is one of the few universities in the country that cover the entire spectrum of Hellenism, both chronologically and geographically. From the prehistoric Aegean to classical Athens and from early Byzantium to 20th-century Alexandria and 21st-century Greeks in Detroit, the Modern Greek faculty introduces exciting Greek adventures to thousands of students and members of the community every year. “Adding a specialist in contemporary Greek history is the next step in the growth of our Program,” says Prof. Vassilis Lambropoulos. His distinguished colleagues at the Program are Professor Artemis Leontis and Lecturer Despina Margomenou.
It is FMGS’ vision to enhance the Center for Modern Greek Culture and Policy at a premier institution such as the University of Michigan with the addition of a Chair in Modern Greek History and eventually Chairs in Political Science and Anthropology.