ATHENS – On June 29, nearly 3,000 guests came together at the ACG Stadium where 350 graduating students were applauded for their years of hard work, perseverance, and determination as they received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Dr. David G. Horner, President of The American College of Greece, welcomed the graduating class, along with the Board of Trustees, and ACG faculty and staff to the 2019 Deree Commencement Ceremony: “The Deree graduates we congratulate and celebrate this evening richly deserve the recognition we will bestow upon them.”
The President went on to introduce the Ambassador of the United States Embassy in Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt, and thanked him for all his efforts to advance the cause of The American College of Greece. Then the President concluded his speech with the introduction of this year’s Honorary Degree Recipient, George M. Marcus. Marcus is a distinguished economist and Founder of GM Marcus & Company in 1971, which later became Marcus and Millichap Company, as well as Essex Property Trust, Greater Bay Bancorp and Plaza Bank of Commerce.
Upon receiving his honorary title, Marcus expressed his gratitude and delight at celebrating with the graduates and their families: “It seems like yesterday when I was in your shoes. I, like many of you, was the first in my family to graduate from College and I remember the feelings of elation as well as terror. Terror because I thought I had landed a job, but wasn’t sure and the job market was soft like it is here today in Greece.”
Marcus reminded the graduating class that there is always an opportunity, even in difficult times, and urged them to always strive for excellence:
“There is one ingredient that is necessary for success and that is striving for excellence. Interestingly enough, both Confucius and Aristotle, in their own way said: ‘Excellence is a habit; it is what we repeatedly do that sets us apart.’ It helps if you love what you do. So, for you to succeed in whatever endeavor you pursue, you must take that to heart and be the best that there is in the field. Best of luck to all of you and don’t forget to give back.”
Business Leader and Philanthropist George M. Marcus was born George Mathew Moutsanas in 1941 in Limni on the island of Evia in Greece and immigrated to the United States in 1945. He attended San Francisco State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. His alma mater named him Alumnus of the Millennium in 1999 and awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2011. The extraordinary business accomplishments of George Marcus include his founding of G. M. Marcus & Company in 1971, which later became Marcus and Millichap Company, the parent organization of a diversified group of real estate service, investment and development firms as well as his founding of Essex Property Trust, Greater Bay Bancorp, and Plaza Bank of Commerce. He also owns two renowned Greek restaurants: Kokkari (San Francisco) and Evvia (Palo Alto). George Marcus’ extensive commitments to the Greek Orthodox Church and the community are reflected in his membership on the Board of Directors of the: Modern Greek Studies Foundation, CSU Foundation, UCSF Foundation, Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, International Orthodox Christian Charities, and Elios Society of Northern California. He founded and served as Chairman of the National Hellenic Society, serves on the Advisory Board of the Washington Oxi Day Foundation and the Taube Foundation, and has generously supported Leadership 100, the President’s Council of United Religions Initiative and The Hellenic Initiative.
George Marcus has received numerous awards, including: American Hellenic Institute Spirit of Freedom Entrepreneurial Award; Hellenic American Professional Society of California Axion Award; Ellis Island Medal of Honor; Patriarch Athenagoras I Humanitarian Award; Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, Theofanis Economidis Award. In 2016, he received an Honorary Degree of Humanities from the Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
It is worth noting that on June 27 the American School of Classical Studies at Athens awarded George Marcus an Honorary Doctorate as well at a fine ceremony.
The celebration at ACG progressed with each individual graduate called up to the stage for the Conferral of their degrees.
President Horner delivered the closing remarks, “Graduates of 2019, we are proud of your accomplishments; we are the better for our association with you as colleagues in learning, and we send you forth in confidence to share the gifts that you, uniquely, can offer!
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my high honor to present to you the Classes of 2019 of Deree – The American College of Greece!” exclaimed the President as he presented the newest members of the 56,000-strong ACG alumni community. The night sky of Aghia Paraskevi was then lit up with bright fireworks to conclude the ceremony.