Seattle – Dr. Nick and Nancy Vidalakis were honored December 8 at a reception at the University of Washington for the establishment of the Dr. Nick and Nancy Vidalakis Family Professorship of Culture, Excellence, and Spirituality in Hellenic Studies. Members of the Pacific Northwest Greek-American community joined with officials of the University at the event in the Allen Library.
A professorship is an endowment consisting of a minimum amount of $250,000. The annual proceeds from this endowment will be used forever to support the work in Hellenic studies of an already existing professor.
“The members of the Faculty Committee of the program express their profound gratitude to Dr. Nick, his wife Nancy, and their four children for their generosity,” stated Dr. Theodore Kaltsounis, Professor Emeritus and Founding Chair of the five-year-old UW Hellenic Studies Program “Knowing how deeply committed they are to excellence and Hellenic values, their gesture points to their recognition of our program and the role it can play in advancing the mission of higher education,” he added.
Dr. Nick and Nancy Vidalakis are the children of unschooled immigrants from the island of Crete. They married in 1961 and were blessed with four children. Dr. Nick worked in several jobs while pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree. He received scholarships from Stanford and was able to earn an MBA, Stanford Sloan degree, and a Ph.D. With $2000 borrowed in 1955, Dr. Nick started his own business and founded over 25 companies. Nancy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a graduate degree in Education.
The Vidalakis children, Perry, John, George, and Nicole have degrees from Stanford, Harvard, New York University, University of Southern California, Mt. Holyoke, University of Utah, and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. All six members of the family are recipients of many academic, religious, and community honors and awards. Dr. Nick is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and he and Nancy are members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Leadership 100.
“The members of the Vidalakis family have strong values that reflect their commitment to God, education, integrity, excellence, hard work, hospitality, love, charity, fairness, honesty, Cretan extraction, and caring for others,” Dr. Kaltsounis noted. “These are demonstrated through the Vidalakis Family Foundation, which supports various individuals, families, churches, universities, Hellenic associations, and other worthy causes. The purpose of their endowment at UW is to enhance the university’s ability to attract and retain distinguished faculty in Hellenic Studies,” he explained.
The Hellenic Studies Program at the University of Washington just completed its fifth year in operation. A group of professors of Greek origin and their philhellene colleagues developed the program and placed it at the Jackson School of International Studies as a concentration in the European Studies degree program. The offerings include Modern Greek language; courses on Ancient, Byzantine, and Modern Greek history and culture; and an academic quarter of study in Greece. About 250 students attend the Hellenic Studies courses during each academic year.
During the reception, Professor Carol Thomas, the incoming Chair of the program, presented Dr. Kaltsounis with a plaque in appreciation of his efforts in establishing and nurturing Hellenic Studies at UW over the past five years.
While the offerings on Ancient Greece have always been the responsibility of the university, the new offerings on Modern Greece, including the Modern Greek language course, are supported by contributions from a variety of sources, but mainly from the local Greek-American community, through the organization Hellenes of the Northwest. A Hellenic Studies Endowment Fund was established, and is in progress, for the long-range support of the program. Major assistance has come from the Governments of Greece and Cyprus and the Onassis Foundation. The Vidalakis Professorship is a separate endowment and a significant development in the effort to secure the future of the program.