ATHENS – On a delightful evening on the terrace of The Alex hotel in Piraeus, U.S. Ambassador George Tsunis congratulated the administrators and students of the 2021/22 inaugural year of the ‘Master’s Program in American Studies: Politics, Strategy and Economics’ of the University of Piraeus, and welcomed the class of 2022/23.
The founding director of the Program, Dr. Aristotle Tziampiris, shared the spotlight with his colleagues, as well as officials of NYU, which provides some of the faculty and cooperates in its operation. The Program also has the support of the U.S. Embassy and the Greek Ministry of Education.
Amb. Tsunis was introduced by Prof. Konstantina Botsiou and began in Greek, saying how honored he was to greet all the attendees and to launch the program’s second year, “the first of its kind at a Greek university.” He declared that, “our Embassy… will continue to play a supportive role here because we truly believe that the work you do is very important to both the United States and Greece… we will continue these people to people ties, these educational ties,” which are a U.S. diplomatic priority. The Ambassador noted personal elements also drew him to the event, his being an NYU alum and “a shared passion for education.”
Prof. Foteini Asderaki, the Emcee, spotlighted Tziampiris, Chair of the Dept. International and European Studies and the Founding Director of the Program, “for his vision and leadership.”
As one of the professors of the program, she noted “this is a unique opportunity for students and academics from both countries not only to study and learn about strategies and policies, but also to create a new scientific community that will explore our common values. It will highlight our common historical and cultural ties and discuss our mutual concerns and global challenges.”
Tziampiris, after thanking all who contribute to the Program – especially “the NYU professors who teach 40% of the program but on Greek salaries” – offered an introduction to the core subject matter – the nature of the United States and the foundations of its foreign policy. Beginning with Ben Franklin’s famous response to a woman who asked of the Founding Fathers what they had wrought – “it’s a Republic, if you can keep it” – Tziampiris unfolded a thought-provoking list of the qualities of that unique American Republic, generated by research for his new book The Monroe Doctrine and the Greek Revolution.
He began, “it is a new Republic,” a state that is not even 250 years old, and continued, “it is a Republic of… wealth…a Republic of military might…of racial strife…of global consequence…of immigrants…of sports…which have a different function than in Europe,” uniting rather than dividing, socially. “It’s a Republic of perpetual innovation…of letters, with the world’s best universities…a Republic of Soft Power…above all, it’s a Republic of Freedom.” He closed by spotlighting the wisdom of Franklin’s quick quip by noting the threat posed by the January 6 events.
Apropos of the baseball playoff season, several guests said the presentation was a home run.
Among the guests was Costis Frangulis, President of Athens’ renowned Propeller Club, and Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of HALC.
Prof. Michael Sfakianakis, Dean of the School of Economics, Business and International Studies, also addressed the gathering, stressing the importance of multicultural and interdisciplinary studies in both advancing scholarship and deepening relations between countries.