LOS ANGELES – On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Professor Demetrios Liappas celebrated his retirement from the directorship of the Basil P. Caloyeras Center for Modern Greek Studies at Loyola Marymount University.
At an elegant reception in a room with a breath-taking view of the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles basin, a gathering of former students, friends, supporters, and colleagues exchanged memories as Lambros Howard played traditional Greek music.
Many of the Center’s strongest, most loyal supporters attended, among them: Peter and Vivi Demopoulos, Cleo Andrews, Hope Berk, Dalia and Kip Miller, George and Tina Kolovos, Eleftheria and Ted Polychronis, Dr. Anatasios Chassiakos, Rosalind Halikis, and Peter and Caroline Caloyeras. Several of the leading organizations for the Greek community of Southern California were represented by their leadership including the Hellenic University Club by the current President, Dr. Zafiris Gourgouliatos, The Federation of Greek Organizations of Southern California by Dr. Philip Trevezas, President, and the Greek Heritage Society by the current President, Shelly Papadopoulos and board member Anna Gianniotis. After more than forty years of teaching and administration, Professor Liappas was passing the torch to Professor Christina Bogdanou, the current Director of the Center.
The gathering was blessed by Fr. John Bakas, Dean of St. Sophia Cathedral, who is also an Adjunct Professor of Theology at LMU, teaching courses in Greek Orthodoxy and Greek Orthodox Spirituality for the Center and the Department of Theology. Fr. Bakas and Presbytera Bakas were joined at the reception by Fr. and Presbytera Michael Courey of St. Katherine’s in Redondo Beach. Another long-time supporter of the Center, the Honorable Andreas Kyprianides, Honorary Consul General of Cyprus, served as Master of Ceremonies.
In his remarks, he reminded the guests of the traumatic conditions under which the Center was born, the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus which galvanized the Greek community of Southern California and which energized Greek studies at LMU. Demetrios Liappas, with Andreas Kyprianides and three others who were also present at the retirement party—Aris Anagnos, Dr. Jim Dimitriou, and Ted Polychronis—were among the original founders of the Save Cyprus Council which has evolved into the dynamic political action group, the American Hellenic Council.
Also in attendance were some of Professor Liappas’ family members who had flown in from the east coast and from Australia. They were his sister Katy Christodouleas, her sons Drs. James and John Chrisodouleas, her daughter Dr. Tina Christodouleas Tabakovic, and their nephew, Apostolos Pinakidis. Dr. James Christodouleas of Price Waterhouse Cooper, Australia, spoke of the family’s love for their brother and uncle. Basil P. Caloyeras, whose father, Peter, first endowed the Center, added his words of appreciation for Professor Liappas’ achievements and renewed his pledge to support the work of the Center. The Associate Dean of Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at LMU, Dr. Molly Youngkin, talked about the importance of the instructional program of the Center in the academic mission of the university.
The Center offers a Minor in Modern Greek Studies, one of the very few institutions in the United States to do so, and also supports the mission of the university with a strong and vital summer abroad experience, the Odyssey Program in Greece. Three former students of the Center, Antigoni Vasilopoulou ’15, Fotis Davlantis ’04, and Gabriel Courey ’09 gave moving tributes to the life-changing opportunities that Professor Liappas and the Center had provided them in their education. Donna Gray, Director of Development, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, thanked the many donors who were present and reminded us all that philanthropy is a Greek virtue. The program ended with the Professor Liappas telling us of the history of the Basil P. Caloyeras Center for Modern Greek Studies and expressing his gratitude for all the years of support that so many in the Greek community have given the Center. He was especially touched by the presence of Vasso Fischer, former President of the Hellenic University Club, Zoye Fidler, founding President of the Greek Heritage Society and Aris Anagnos, one of the founders of the Save Cyprus Council and long-time supporter of social justice and generous supporter of the Center.