$1-million gift will further York University’s expertise in Hellenic studies

Seven hundred people witnessed the announcement of a $1-million gift to York University from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation at the Hellenic Heritage Foundation Annual Gala on June 7.

The guest list included Canada’s ambassador to Greece, Robert Peck, Greek ambassador to Canada, Eleftherios Aggelopoulos, and many members of Toronto’s Canadian Greek community. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s gift celebrates 70 years of Canada-Greece relations and supports exchange students from Greek universities pursuing studies at York.  The grant is part of the foundation’s significant overall effort to help alleviate the severe consequences of the socioeconomic crisis that has been impacting Greece for the past five years.


Stelios Vasilakis (left), the senior program officer, strategy & initiatives for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, is presented with a commemorative plaque by York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri following the announcement of the $1-million gift

“Greece is going through an economic crisis. Establishing scholarships at a first-rate Canadian university is a very effective way to provide much needed opportunities to young and academically qualified students,” said Stelios Vasilakis, senior program officer, strategy & initiatives, Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “We hope this gift becomes the incentive and inspiration for other support to follow.  We would like to encourage the Canadian Greek community to follow both us, and the Hellenic Heritage Foundation and to get involved as well. We are doing a lot, but there is much more to be done.”

York University is a noted hub of Hellenic studies and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation gift will further strengthen this area of expertise. In addition to Greek language courses and scholarships for students in York’s Hellenic Studies program, the University has established the Hellenic Heritage Foundation Chair in Modern Greek History and chairholder, Professor Anthanasios (Sakis) Gekas, recently spearheaded the Greek Canadian History Project with PhD student Chris Grafos.

“This gift promotes transformative student exchanges with Greek universities, and it also inspires us to build on York’s already strong Hellenic Studies program,” confirmed York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri upon accepting the gift. “In developing our existing Hellenic Heritage Foundation Chair in Modern Greek History, our courses in Greek language, literature and history, and our Greek Canadian History Project, we are now pursuing community investment in areas including modern Greek teacher training; additional student and faculty exchanges and visiting scholars; and study abroad programs in Greece. The impact of this gift will live on well into the future.”

This gift will not only have a significant impact on York University, but will benefit both Canada and Greece. It is part of a new wave of investment sought to boost York’s notable Hellenic Studies program.

Stavros_gift2Amalia Delicari (left), associate program officer for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, with Vasilakis and Shoukri following the presentation of a commemorative plaque featuring a story about the foundation’s gift that was published in a recent issue of York U magazine

In September, York’s Dean of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Martin Singer, and Associate Vice-President, International, Marilyn Lambert-Drache, will travel to Greece to visit universities and high schools in an effort to further develop the University’s Hellenic Studies program and exchanges. Representatives from the Hellenic Heritage Foundation are planning to accompany them.

“We have built a strong partnership and a shared vision with York University,” said George Raios, president, Hellenic Heritage Foundation. “Our joint efforts have created a world-class Hellenic Studies program at York University. The foundation is committed to continuing to strengthen its relationship with York to ensure that it becomes an international centre of excellence in Hellenic studies.”

Students from Greece who are coming to York University on exchange can click here to learn how to apply for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Scholarship.