Nikolaos Panou Installed as Tsantes Endowed Professor at Stony Brook

(L to r): Sacha Kopp, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Peter V. Tsantes; Nikolaos Panou, assistant professor of Comparative Literature; Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.; Stony Brook University Provost Michael Bernstein. Photo: Stony Brook University

STONY BROOK, NY – Nikolaos Panou, PhD, was formally installed as the inaugural Peter V. Tsantes Professor in Greek Literature and Language at Stony Brook University. “It is an understatement to say that I am delighted that Nikolaos Panou has been named to this distinguished professorship,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. during the ceremony. “And we are grateful to Peter V. and Despina Tsantes for endowing this professorship. It will be a lasting tribute to the Tsantes family and enable us to continue to attract and retain prominent scholars in the field of Hellenic studies.”

As Assistant Professor of Comparative Studies in Stony Brook University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Panou’s current research focuses on the ways in which power and authority were conceptualized and represented in pre-modern philosophical discourse, with particular emphasis on moral and political works written from the 16th to the 18th century.

Nikolaos Panou received his PhD in comparative literature from Harvard University and has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton University. Before joining Stony Brook in 2014, he was a visiting assistant professor of comparative literature at Brown University.

President Stanley explained that it is a Hellenic tradition of rigorous investigation of the hard sciences, social sciences, and humanities that Stony Brook seeks to emulate, promulgate, and celebrate. “It is not only fitting, it is important that at Stony Brook — one of the top 62 research Universities in the country known for our emphasis on the study of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine — we also educate and nurture students with the values of Hellenic civilization,” he said.

Recognized for his long history of visionary generosity in providing valuable resources and leadership among the Greek community, Long Islander Peter V. Tsantes’ passion and enthusiasm was encouraged by Stony Brook’s own educational reputation and commitment toward advancing the study of Hellenic culture. He also noted that he and his family have dedicated the professorship to the memory of his adoptive mother, Aikaterini Spanou Haralambou Batuyios, who sponsored his trip to the United States in 1951. “How can you forever show your love and remembrance?” Tsantes’ said of Batuyios.

Throughout Tsantes’ life, Batuyios encouraged him to give back, which led to his involvement in the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture (AFGLC). Before long, he turned his philanthropic focus closer to home, where he formed the New York Chapter of AFGLC. He currently serves as treasurer for its executive board.

To Tsantes, the professorship was a fitting tribute to not only his adopted mother and homeland, he hopes it will spur others “toward an increased energy in philanthropy and education.” The professorship, he believes, will be the base for a plethora of Hellenic activities on campus, supported not only by his family, but also by the generosity of other members of the Long Island Hellenic community.

In his professorship, Panou will promote scholarship, teaching, and research in all aspects of Hellenic civilization, from antiquity to the present. One of Panou’s principal goals at Stony Brook is to build a stronger Center for Hellenic Studies that will serve as a forum for the study of Greek society, history, and culture, and which will cultivate a comprehensive understanding of classical, post-classical, and modern Greece.

“The vision is here, and so is the will, the determination and the expertise,” Panou said. “We now have to direct all of our effort – and with a great sense of urgency, I might add –  to the creation of a robust, radiant, magnetic Center for Hellenic Studies that will serve as a hub for the study of Greek society, history, politics, and culture that will become an indispensable point of reference within Stony Brook and beyond.”

This new professorship is yet another example of how endowed faculty build on the University’s dedication to excellence across campus. That’s why one goal of the $600 million Campaign for Stony Brook is to create a total of 100 endowed faculty positions by 2018, aiming to attract more eminent scholars and researchers and retain outstanding faculty across a wide range of disciplines.

In the past six years, the number of endowed chairs and professorships at Stony Brook has increased more than seven-fold, to a total of 42 endowed chairs and professorships.

“At a time when the humanities are being increasingly marginalized, to say the least, the establishment of an endowed chair in Hellenic studies is an event and an opportunity of singular importance,” Panou said. “The truth is, what’s happened here at Stony Brook is the result of extraordinary actions that require inspiration, zeal, commitment, generosity, and a lot of hard work.”