A $1.2-million gift to McGill University from leaders of Canada’s Greek community will strengthen Modern Greek research and scholarship at McGill and endow the University’s Phrixos B. Papachristidis Chair in Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian Studies in perpetuity.
The gift, which includes contributions from over 70 donors in Montreal and across Canada, will allow McGill, already Canada’s most international university, to expand the scope of its Greek studies program, one of the few in the country that examines the Greek cultural diaspora through a contemporary lens.
“We are grateful to the Greek-Canadian community for the generosity exemplified in this extraordinary gift,” said Suzanne Fortier, McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “This endowed Chair will strengthen McGill’s already vibrant Modern Greek Studies program and further cement the University’s position at the forefront of this important area of study.”
The Papachristidis Chair, which is housed within McGill’s Department of History and Classical Studies, was first established in 1988 by the Papachristidis family in honour of the late Montreal shipping industrialist. McGill, committed to expanding its academic footprint in Greek Studies, has supported the Chair financially on an annual basis since its inception. The program has also received considerable funding from the Government of Canada, as well as a $400,000 donation from the Government of Greece, which was announced during a visit to McGill in 1998 by Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, the then-Greek Minister of Culture and current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The decision by members of Canada’s Greek community to step forward now, and in such a generous fashion, will ensure that McGill can recruit and retain global experts in the field in perpetuity. The new funding announced today will also enable McGill to enrich its Greek studies program more broadly by expanding opportunities for students to travel to Greece, by bringing renowned visiting scholars to McGill, and by creating deeper ties with Montreal’s Greek language institutions.
The current Chairholder is Anastassios (Tassos) Anastassiadis, an expert in the study of transnational networks of activists (religious and educational) and their role in institutional change and state formation, especially with regard to Greece within its Balkan and Mediterranean context in the modern era. Born in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, Professor Anastassiadis studied political science, linguistics and history in the United States, France and Greece before becoming an Assistant Professor of History at McGill in 2011.
“This endowment allows us to envision with serenity the development of the Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian Studies program at McGill as one of the most innovative in North America involved in fields such as the study of Greek immigration in Canada, research in Greek state formation within its Balkan, Mediterranean, European and global context, the joint organization of summer studies programs in Greece with Greek Universities, and the training of primary and secondary education teachers for the Greek diaspora,” said Professor Anastassiadis.
Playing a pivotal role in bringing this endeavor to fruition was a volunteer team led by Basil Papaevagelou, Andrew Christopoulos, Demetrius Manolakos, Nick Photiades, Dip Man’76, and George M. Tsoukas, BSc’64, MDCM’68, who spearheaded an ambitious fundraising campaign over the last two years.
“The Greek community rallied around this important cause, not just to do something special for McGill, but to pay tribute to a remarkable philanthropist who helped countless Greeks over the years,” said Papaevagelou, who serves on the board of directors for the Hellenic Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “Being able to endow this Chair in perpetuity is a huge achievement, especially for a culture that measures its age in millennia.”