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Ομιλία Commencement 2019

COMMENCEMENT 2019

11 Ιουλίου 2019

 

Αγαπητοί Φίλοι, Γονείς, Απόφοιτοι και πάνω από όλα Τελειόφοιτοι,

Σας καλωσορίζω στο Κολλέγιο στη σημερινή ιδιαίτερα σημαντική και συγκινητική εκδήλωση: Την Τελετή Αποφοίτησης της τάξης του 2019.

Distinguished Members of the 2019 Graduating Class.

And you are distinguished! Our College Counsellor told me yesterday that expectations are for close to 100% acceptance of class of 2019 candidates at universities abroad and nearly that at universities in Greece. You have distinguished yourselves in debating tournaments at Cambridge Schools, Deree, Eurasian Schools, Moraitis and Panhellenic Forensics Tournaments. Not to mention First Prize in Panhellenic Fencing, participation of a classmate on the Greek National Water Polo Team at the Belgrade World Championship and Panhellenic Physics where you will represent Greece at the 50th International Olympiad in Israel. And don’t forget Psychico College Young Entrepreneurs winning First Prize representing Greece at the Junior Achievement Europe Event in France or the Athens College senior selected as a member of the

National Informatics Team 2019 who will represent Greece in the Balkan Olympiad in Informatics and the 2019 International Olympiad. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that you have done well.

Now, don’t rest on your laurels. Keep up these great works and stay in touch. The technology exists, use it.  By all means, stay in contact via our emerging state-of-the-art website and social media. We here will be applauding as you break new records in Universities and careers. Finally, I applaud your parents who share in your success and will, in a sense be graduating with you today. I ask that you as a class stand together now and applaud them for their tremendous support. 

We are delighted to announce this evening that two full Merit Scholarships in memory of alumnus and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees Michael L. Dertouzos will be awarded this fall, and will be awarded each year going forward and in perpetuity.  The Michael Dertouzos Merit Scholarships will be granted to two outstanding students entering the Gymnasio, one to a student with a special affinity for STEM area subjects, the other to a student with demonstrated talent in the Humanities.  This annual support will come from a restricted fund within the U.S. Endowment, generously given for this purpose and to honor our distinguished alumnus.  

As the director of MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science for almost 30 years, Michael Dertouzos was a pivotal figure in the creation of the World Wide Web Consortium – the alliance of companies and groups promoting the evolution of the internet.  Professor Dertouzos wanted computers to be “as natural a part of our environment as the air we breathe,” spearheading a 2001 collaboration with MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab to find ways in which computer technology could be used for humanity’s benefit.  He said at that time that “We made a big mistake 300 years ago when we separated technology and humanism. It’s time to put the two back together.” Most recently, he was globally recognized by Google as one of the most charismatic figures of the 20th century. In honor of his remarkable vision, his world-recognized contribution to knowledge and to furthering the development of the human spirit through advances in both technology and the humanities, we celebrate this evening his achievements, and his deep love for his alma mater of Athens College. 

We are also pleased to announce another restricted fund within the U.S. Endowment in support of faculty professional development. This generous fund will annually, and in perpetuity, provide grants to two faculty members to participate in professional development, research or experiential enrichment opportunities in the U.S. These opportunities will be announced to faculty at the beginning of each academic year, and faculty invited to submit applications for the award and the professional development opportunity they wish to pursue.  A selection committee will draw up the short list of recommended candidates for final decision by the President.  Awardees will share their experiences with their colleagues upon their return and submit a report summarizing how the knowledge acquired will be applied in their teaching career. 

We express our enormous thanks to the generous anonymous donors who have created these endowment funds through their gifts to benefit our students and faculty today, and for generations to come.

I also have a late breaking development that I am proud to announce. At a meeting of the Board of Directors of Athens College this Commencement Week, Chairman Nicolas Tsavliris and the Directors voted to designate one of the six Merit Scholarships that they provide each year as the Charalampos Vellis Memorial Scholarship, a distinguished name that will be carried in perpetuity, honoring the late Chairman of the Athens College Board of Directors and a pillar of this School.

Finally, speaking of scholarships I would like to thank Constantinos Coulouvatos class of 1977 for making possible study abroad scholarships in memory of this brother Alexis Coulouvatos, class of 1984, under which three Merit Scholars are currently study in the United States for 5 weeks. 

Engraved in marble outside my office in the Benakeion are the distinguished past winners of the President’s Award. Running from Stefanos Delta, Homer Davis, George Gonticas and Michael Dertouzos to, yes, Charalampos Vellis. We petty men can only gaze upwards in awe at these plaques. This year’s nominee served for 40 years in the Somateion including fifteen on the Board of Directors. By the end of his final term, he was by general acclamation considered the oldest Board member, but unquestionably the youngest at heart. Although he has held high level leadership positions in the tourism industry, education has been his passion and in, particular, Athens College. In my short tenure at the College I have found him to be an out-of- the-box thinker who has not been threatened by change but rather endorsed new ideas and the imperative for the College to be cutting edge in the 21st century. You will all doubtless have divined that I am speaking about Apostolos Doxiadis who I now invite to the podium to receive the 2019 President’s Award.

Our Commencement Speaker today and the first Commencement Speaker in Athens College since 1932 will be the noted author, journalist and film producer, Nicholas Gage. Nicholas Gage has spent the first half of his career as an investigative reporter for The New York Times and Wall Street Journal receiving worldwide recognition for articles on organized crime, drug trafficking and political corruption (He obtained the first Nixon tapes in the Watergate scandal) and the second half writing seven books, including “Eleni” which received the National Book Critics Circle's nomination for best biography, was awarded first prize by the Royal Society of Literature of Great Britain and made into a motion picture. He has also produced renowned films such as “The God Father Part 3”, nominated for 7 Oscars.

Nick, whether or not, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “100 years of Solitude”, Athens College must endure another 100 years of silence awaiting its next Commencement speaker will depend entirely on your eloquence today, and it is a great pleasure and     honor to invite you to this platform.