Seattle – The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, based in Athens, is giving the Hellenic Studies Program at the University of Washington another $240,000. This major gift was announced by Onassis Foundation (USA) Executive Director Ambassador Loucas Tsilas at a Celebration Dinner and Auction held November 10 in the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church Community Center.
The funds will be paid over a three-year period to support the salary and benefits for a specialist in Hellenic Studies who will teach courses in Greek History and/or Culture and coordinate the program including taking the students for an academic quarter of study in Greece each year.
The Onassis Foundation has also generously assisted UW Hellenic Studies through grants to bring in visiting professors and instructors over six years, each offering a quarter-long course on an aspect of Modern Greek Culture.
Over 300 people attended the gala evening which included silent and live auctions. Entertainment included Greek music by Christos Govetas and Ruth Hunter and a performance by the St. Demetrios Dance Group “Akrites.” The Hellenes of the Northwest and the John P. Angel Foundation sponsored the celebration.
Along with Amb. Tsilas, honored guests who spoke during the program were His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States; the Honorable Xenia Stefanidou, Consul General of Greece in San Franicsco; Vassos Demetriou, Honorary Consul of Cyprus for Washington State; and Connie Kravas, Vice President for University Advancement at the University of Washington. The governments of Greece and Cyprus are supporters of the program.
Dr. Theodore Kaltsounis, UW professor emeritus and a primary founder and first Director of the program; John T. John, President of the Hellenes of the Northwest and another primary founder, and Prof. Carol Thomas, current Director of UW Hellenic Studies also made presentations. Chris Legeros, KIRO-TV news reporter served as Master of Ceremonies.
The ultimate goal of the program, which was begun in 1998, is to have a chair for a tenure-track professor in Hellenic Studies. This will require an endowment of $1.4 million, of which approximately $750,000 has been raised so far. In addition, the Vidalakis Family has donated $167,000 that was matched by $83,000 by the University of Washington for a total of $250,000 for the establishment of a professorship, the Rakus Family has provided more than $30,000 to catalogue and maintain a collection of historical materials on the local Greek-American Community, many from the personal files of the late Gust Rakus as well as purchase books on modern Hellenism for the University Library and a $50,000 donation from UW Faculty members, with matching funds from the University has established the Professor Theodore Kaltsounis Scholarship Fund.
For more information on the UW Hellenic Studies program go to http://depts.washington.edu/hellenic/