UMSL welcomes Greek ambassador for campus visit

Greek ambassador visit

Greek Ambassador to the United States Harris Lalacos (right) paid a visit to the UMSL campus last Wednesday and met with (from left) Hellenic Government-Karakas Family Foundation Endowed Professor of Greek Studies Michael Cosmopoulos, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Andrew Kersten, Senior International Officer George Sipos and Interim Chancellor Kristin Sobolik in Woods Hall with the Greek flag flying in front of the building. (Photos by August Jennewein)

The flag of Greece flew in front of Woods Hall on North Campus on Wednesday as the University of Missouri–St. Louis welcomed Haris Lalacos, the Ambassador of Greece to the United States.

Lalacos was on an official visit to meet with Michael Cosmopoulos, the Hellenic Government-Karakas Family Foundation Endowed Professor of Greek Studies and chair of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology.

“His objective was to become familiar with exactly what we are doing and what we are offering here,” Cosmopoulos said. “The Greek professorship is the oldest Greek professorship to be established in the United States and the first endowed professorship here at UMSL, so it carries quite a bit of history. We run numerous academic, research, and public education programs and the professorship enjoys an international reputation. The ambassador’s visit highlights the importance of the professorship for US-Greece relations and the active interest of the Greek government in strengthening these relations.”

Greek flag in front of Woods Hall

The Greek flag flew in front of Woods Hall on Oct. 30 as Haris Lalacos, the Greek ambassador to the United States, visited the UMSL campus.

Lalacos spent the day on campus. He visited with representatives of the local Greek community, who are supporters and donors at UMSL, and had a meeting with Interim Chancellor and Provost Kristin Sobolik, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Andrew Kersten, and Senior International Officer and UMSL Global Executive Director George Sipos. He also gave a presentation on modern Greece to a class of about 20 students in an advanced course on political anthropology and had dinner with members of the UMSL faculty.

The presentation to students centered on the refugee crisis that has brought thousands of people – including many fleeing violence in Syria – to Greek shores.

“Right now, there are about 80,000 refugees packed on the Greek islands across the coast from Turkey and in other places,” Cosmopoulos said. “Greece is coming out of the financial crisis and at the same time struggling to create the infrastructure needed to host and take care of these thousands of refugees.”

The situation has only popped up sporadically in media reports in the United States. The students were fascinated by the ambassador’s presentation.

“They responded very positively,” Cosmopoulos said. “There was this flood of questions afterwards. Much of this information is not known to us here, especially in the Midwest. And yet this is the hard reality in Greece, so it made a lot of sense for someone who deals with this in an official capacity to describe and explain the situation.

“Greece has to provide food, shelter, schooling, medical care, security, and daily comforts for all these refugees and their children, who remain for years in refugee camps. There’s a whole slew of issues that he talked about and our students didn’t know the details or extent of the problem.”

In addition to interacting with students, Lalacos received a tour of campus, including to the Nicholas and Theodora Matsakis Hellenic Culture Center and the facilities of the Greek Professorship.

He asked questions about the makeup of the student population at UMSL and the student participation in UMSL’s study-in-Greece programs. The Greek Professorship runs several academic programs in Greece, including Cosmopoulos’ archeological excavation at Iklaina, which has been covered extensively by The New York Times and National Geographic Society.

“He wants to find ways for the Greek government to strengthen our programs – especially where visiting Greece is concerned,” Cosmopoulos said. “We know how important traveling is to our students’ education. We may talk to students extensively about a culture, show them slides and films, but unless they actually find themselves there, they don’t get to experience and learn about that culture and its people.”


Επίσκεψη του Πρέσβη της Ελλάδας κου. Θεοχάρη Λαλάκου στην Έδρα Ελληνικών Σπουδών του Πανεπιστημίου Μιζούρι

Η ελληνική σημαία υψώθηκε στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Μιζούρι στις 30 Οκτωβρίου για την επίσημη επίσκεψη που πραγματοποίησε ο Πρέσβης της Ελλάδας στις ΗΠΑ κος. Θεοχάρης Λαλάκος.

Ο Έλληνας Πρέσβης ξεναγήθηκε στις εγκαταστάσεις της Έδρας και στο Κένρο Ελληνικού Πολιτισμού από τον κάτοχο της Έδρας, καθηγητή κο. Μιχάλη Κοσμόπουλο.   Κατά τη διάρκεια της επίσκεψής του συναντήθηκε με την Πρόεδρο του Πανεπιστημίου κα. Kristin Sobolik, τον Κοσμήτορα της Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής κο. Andrew Kersten και το Διευθυντή Διεθνών Σπουδών κο. George Sipos, με τους οποίους συζήτησε τη σημασία της Έδρας για την ανάπτυξη των Ελληνικών Σπουδών στις ΗΠΑ και για τη σύσφιξη των ελληνοαμερικανικών σχέσεων.

Επίσης είχε συναντήσεις με την ηγεσία της ελληνικής κοινότητας του St. Louis, καθώς και με καθηγητές και φοιτητές της Έδρας, με τους οποίους συζήτησε τα προβλήματα που αντιμετωπίζει η Ελλάδα, ιδιαίτερα σε ό,τι αφορά στο προσφυγικό ζήτημα, και τους τρόπους με τους οποίους αντιμετωπίζει τα προβλήματα αυτά.

Ο κος. Λαλάκος εξήρε το έργο και την ιστορία της Έδρας, που είναι η αρχαιότερη Έδρα Ελληνικών Σπουδών στις ΗΠΑ και οργανώνει πολυάριθμα προγράμματα διδασκαλίας φοιτητών και επιμόρφωσης του κοινού, καθώς και την ανασκαφή της εν Αθήναις Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας που διεξάγει ο κος. Κοσμόπουλος στην ΄Ικλαινα.

Η επίσκεψη του κου. Λαλάκου έκλεισε με επίσημο δείπνο που παρέθεσε η Έδρα προς τιμή του και στο οποίο παρευρέθηκαν αξιωματούχοι και καθηγητές του πανεπιστημίου.


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