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
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