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Tsakopoulos Collection & Hellenic Studies Program Celebrated Their 20th Anniversary

SACRAMENTO, CA – California State University, Sacramento (aka Sacramento State) celebrated a milestone on May 9 as the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection and Hellenic Studies Program commemorated their 20th anniversary. Live music, a catered reception, speeches, and a wonderful exhibit of archival materials and rare books were on display. Members of the Greek community, faculty, students, university administration, Consul General of Greece in San Francisco Socrates Sourvinos, and donors Angelo K. and Sofia Tsakopoulos all enjoyed a memorable evening in the Donald & Beverly Gerth Special Collections and University Archives at the university library.

The Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection was originally part of the Speros Basil Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism that had been founded in Los Angeles in 1985 and subsequently operated in Sacramento from 1989 to 2000. Following the closure of the Vryonis Center, the library and archives were transferred to Sacramento State and renamed the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection. George I. Paganelis was hired at the time the collection opened in 2003 as Curator of the Collection to oversee its growth and maintenance.

Curator of the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection at Sacramento State George Paganelis and Director of the Angelo K. and Sofia Tsakopoulos Hellenic Studies Center and Professor of History Dr. Katerina Lagos. Photo: Nathan Keovorabouth
Angelo K. Tsakopoulos viewing a book display at the exhibit. Photo: Nathan Keovorabouth

At the time, the newly created Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection contained roughly 70,000 volumes, archives, non-print media, art, and artifacts. Paganelis has been instrumental in enlarging the Collection and, currently, there are over 83,000 books and new collections that have been acquired, including the Dr. Steve A. Demakopoulos Collection, Professor John P. Anton Collection, Professor Thanasis Maskaleris Collection, Professor Alexander Kitroeff Collection, and Pyrrhus J. Ruches Collection, among others. Paganelis also established the Hellenic Research Fellowship Program that supports visiting scholars from around the world to come and conduct research in the library and archives. In his speech, Paganelis discussed the Collection’s notable acquisitions and how he looks forward to the coming years of programs and activities.

When the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection and archives arrived at Sacramento State University, a faculty position was also established in the Department of History. Dr. Katerina Lagos was hired in 2003 to teach Modern Greek history and to establish an academic program in Hellenic Studies. Dr. Lagos established the Hellenic Studies Minor Program and the Angelo K. and Sofia Tsakopoulos Hellenic Studies Center, which oversees outreach activities.

Guests enjoying the catering at the event on May 9. Photo: Nathan Keovorabouth

Since 2003, Dr. Lagos has organized eleven national and international conferences, two student conferences, over 60 guest lectures, nine art exhibits, eight film screenings, six musical performances, and produced published volumes based on the conferences that she has organized. As a testament to the prominence of the Hellenic Studies Program and Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection, Sacramento State was selected by the Modern Greek Studies Association (MGSA) to host the 2019 international symposium. Dr. Lagos was recently elected President of the MGSA and hopes that students will look to the West Coast as a thriving center for Hellenic Studies.

Consul General Socrates Sourvinos congratulated Paganelis and Lagos for their hard work and dedication to the preservation of Hellenism. Sacramento State President Dr. J. Luke Wood, commended Dr. Lagos for her academic achievements and the dynamism of the Hellenic Studies Program on campus. One of Dr. Lagos’ students, Nathalie Knights, spoke about her interest in Hellenic Studies, and how she enrolled in summer courses at the American College of Thessaloniki this year.

Mr. and Mrs. Angelo K. Tsakopoulos were pleased to see the growth of the Collection and the academic program. Just last month, Sacramento State University and the National Kapodistrian University of Athens have agreed to partner together to offer online, synchronous Modern Greek language lessons through the College of Continuing Education this fall. These university credit-earning language courses are available to anyone ranging from high school juniors and seniors to university students- both undergraduate and graduate.

More information is available online: https://sacstatehellenicstudies.org/.

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