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B.U. Greek Studies Gets $2.5M Gift

BOSTON – A 1962 alumnus of Boston University has given the school a $2.5 million donation to support a faculty member with scholarly and teaching expertise in the classical period of Greek history.
B.U. Today reported that the school is creating the Maria Stata Professorship in Classical Greek Studies, named for the donor. While the university has a number of scholars in the field the professorship will go to David Roochnik, who is a teacher of philosophy.
“Ancient Greece is a living world,” said Roochnik. “It is filled with spectacular ideas that are as important and powerful today as they were 2,500 years ago. No one should miss it.”
“This wonderful gift from Maria Stata will make a significant and lasting difference to our classical studies program,” BU President Robert A. Brown said.
“It will ensure that students for generations to come will be able to study under accomplished scholars in this important interdisciplinary field, and I very much appreciate Maria’s recognition of the value of classical studies and her dedication to her alma mater.”
Stata, whose husband, Ray Stata, is cofounder and chairman of semiconductor and signal processing company Analog Devices, asked that her gift support a professor who would ensure that undergraduates who may not be majoring in classics have the chance to study the mark of ancient Greece on Western civilization, said Virginia Sapiro, Dean of Arts * Sciences and a professor of political science.
“Mrs. Stata wanted to support Boston University’s ability to educate students about that important society and its contributions to culture, art, architecture, philosophy, science, and literature,” Sapiro says. “Indeed, these influences remain profound today, although most of our students may not know it if they don’t study it.”
An international search by a committee of professors from relevant departments across the University to fill the position began two years ago. Potential holders of the professorship may hail from many disciplines, said Sapiro, as long as they focus on an area of importance to the understanding of classical Greek antiquity, among them art, history, literature, philosophy, and science.
She said that, “David Roochnik is a distinguished scholar, a scholar’s scholar who has a great passion for his writing and his subject. And at the same time he is one of our most skillful and dedicated teachers of students at all levels.”
Roochnik has taught in the philosophy department and the Core Curriculum since arriving at BU in 1995. His work focuses broadly on classical Greek political philosophy, primarily Plato and Aristotle, and he has published nearly 50 articles and chapters on wide-ranging subjects related to classical Greek philosophy and culture.
Roochnik said he was surprised to learn of his new honor. Asked why he believes that students should study ancient Greece, he cited a scenario posed by Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Don DeLillo in his novel White Noise: What if you were hurled into a time warp and came face-to-face with an ancient Greek, whose people invented trigonometry, and conducted autopsies and dissections? DeLillo writes, “What could you tell an ancient Greek that he couldn’t say, ‘Big deal’?”

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