BOSTON – Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis is the newly elected president of Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. He spoke to The National Herald in an exclusive about his candidacy, his studies and academic experience at Tufts, and also about his 16-year tenure as Director of the renowned Museum of Sciences of Boston.
Miaoulis was born in Athens. His father was from Crete and his mother from Corfu. “After graduating from Athens College I came to the United States at the age of 18 as a student of engineering at Tufts University,” he said.
He spoke about what attracted him to engineering. “When I came to Tufts I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I met with my academic advisor, who took me to his lab where he was doing experiments in fluid mechanics with drops of liquids and I was fascinated; from that moment I chose mechanical engineering.”
Miaoulis was appointed professor of engendering at Tufts at the age of 26 and at 32 he became Dean of the School Engineering, a position he held for ten years.
Speaking about his election to the presidency of Roger Williams University he said, “I feel honored, enthusiastic, and I look forward to starting my new career.”
Asked whether he expected or was surprised by his election, he said, “the process began a month ago and it had many stages. I knew that many candidates had shown interest but nobody knows who is going to be selected at the end,” but he added, “I could say there was some kind of surprise as well.”
Speaking about the student body he noted that “the University has four thousand undergraduate students, seven hundred in graduate studies and fifteen hundred in continuing education, so it is a big School. It has a very good Law School, its campus is in a very nice location and it also has a campus in Providence.”
When it became known that he was leaving from the Museum of Science, he had numerous offers. “They started calling me from various universities for the position of president, but I thought about all my options and I chose Roger Williams.”
Speaking about his 16-year experience at the Museum of Science he said that, “the reason I went to the Museum was to introduce engineering into the lives of small children. It was something that I had started at Tufts. I was among the first people involved in STEM since 1995, and I was looking for a platform to expand it. That was the reason I left Tufts, where I was very happy. The Museum in the beginning drew one thousand pupils who were learning about engineering at the elementary school level and our programs were expanded to nineteen million children.”
When asked about his priorities in his new position, he said, “the first five or six months I will try to learn as much as I can about the School because I want to develop a common vision with the professors, the members of the Board of Trustees, the personnel and the students.”
Besides his accomplishments in academics he is also an excellent cook.
“When I was at the Museum I hosted forty to fifty dinners a year for from four to eighty persons at my residence and I did all the cooking. Usually when someone comes to my home for the first time I cook Greek food, but I know how to cook food from the entire world: India, Japan, China, from everywhere,” he said.
When we asked him how he learned to cook, he said, “when I was doing my doctorate I lived with my girlfriend and she was doing the cooking. I didn’t have any idea about it. My mother sent me the cookbook of Ritsa Paradisi from Greece and it was in Greek, so my girlfriend said, “translate it for me if you want me to cook something,” but I was too lazy to translate. My academic advisor, whom I mentioned earlier, accepted an invitation to come with his wife for dinner and the wanted to eat Greek food. I had the option of translating the recipes for my girlfriend or to cook the food myself. I made the first move and I cooked shrimp and potatoes in the oven and made moussaka, and from that point on I started cooking. Now I have about one thousand cookbooks and I make food from all the countries of the world.”
Dr. Miaoulis visits Greece once, sometimes twice a year.