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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Ceremonial ground breaking for Hellenic Studies Building at URI slated for Oct. 21

KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 11, 2000 -- The University of Rhode Island will have a building of classical Greek architecture with an open air amphitheater on its Kingston campus, thanks to the efforts of the Rhode Island chapter of "Paideia," a non-profit Greek-American organization dedicated to advancing learning about classical and modern Hellenic culture and language.

Paideia plans to construct a building for Hellenic Studies adjacent to and east of the URI Fine Arts Center. A ground blessing and ceremonial groundbreaking will be held at the proposed site, behind the Fine Arts Center parking lot, on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 11:30 a.m. All interested parties are invited to the ceremony and to the luncheon that follows from 1 to 3 p.m.

His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, presiding Hierarch of the Boston Greek Orthodox Diocese, will give the ground blessing. Also attending the ceremonies will be dignitaries from Greece, including Dr. Savvas Karayianis, the Honorable Governor of Dodecanese, and Stefanos Demetras, mayor of Kameiros.

The estimated $2.5-million project will be funded through the generosity of Greek-Americans not only from Rhode Island and Southeastern New England, but throughout the United States, Greek-American organizations, and the support of Philhellenes, friends of Greek culture. Although the planning is still in the early stages, a number of Greek-American organizations and individuals have pledged their financial support. Architectural and landscape plans and the excavation and concrete foundations have already been committed to Paideia at no cost. It is expected that the building will be constructed within three to five years, pending a full site evaluation.

The 12,000 square-foot, two-story facility will house the Hellenic Studies program and URI's Center for the Humanities. It will include a small auditorium, a chapel, and a replica of the famous pillars from the Acropolis of Rodos. An outdoor amphitheater of classic design and style will be available for educational and cultural events and serve as an invaluable learning experience for students of all ages who through field trips will be exposed to ancient Greek architecture.

Final design approvals and oversight of the building and programs offered will be under the supervision of the University.

Similar Hellenic centers have been built or are currently underway on the campus of the University of Connecticut, the University of Alabama, Florida International University, and the University of Maryland.

"Many of our core values and basic institutions derive from Greek civilization," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "The presence on the Kingston Campus of a center for the study of classical Hellenic thought and art will give us a richer appreciation of the past and help shape more thoughtful and reflective graduates for the future. We are very proud of our continuing relationship with the Greek American community in Rhode Island and of our growing relationship with the Isle of Rhodes."

For the past two years, URI, with support from Paideia, has increased its number of course offerings in Greek studies, under the leadership of Prof. Ilias Tomazos, a professor of language (and electrical engineering) at the University of Connecticut and an adjunct professor at URI. The classes have been heavily enrolled with enthusiastic students. URI also established summer studies courses on the Isle of Rhodes. These, too, have been very successful, enrolling students from URI, the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts.

Christos Xenophontos, president of the Rhode Island Chapter of Paideia who holds both a bachelor and masters engineering degrees from URI, commented: "The United States has provided numerous opportunities for thousands of Greeks who arrived with the American Dream. We feel that it's time we give back. It is our dream that these facilities will not only stimulate and promote learning, but also provide a symbol of friendship and love. Furthermore, we are leaving something to our children to help them remember their forebears and heritage."

The building will be named "Rodos" after the Greek Isle of Rhodes (Rodos) and Rhode Island. (The leading theory on how Rhode Island got its name says that Giovanni da Verrazano, after viewing Aquidneck Island in 1524, wrote to the King of France saying that the island reminded him of the Isle of Rhodes.)

For Information: Jan Sawyer, URI, 401-874-2116,
Christos Xenophontos, Paideia, 401-294-0085


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