Donor Focus: My Big, Fat, Greek Donor Base

Hellenic community helps UC San Diego become a leader in Greek studies.

Universities traditionally have the most luck in their development strategies among people with close ties to the school — such as alumni and parents of students. But a concerted effort to solicit donations within the community (regardless of its educational ties to the college) has brought to fruition a philosophy professor’s dream of the University of California, San Diego, becoming a world-class leader in Greek studies.

Georgios H. Anagnostopoulos, a UCSD philosophy professor and most recently interim dean of the university’s division of arts and humanities, felt his undergraduate students knew very little about the origins of democracy and various philosophical movements, all of which have foundations in Greek history.

The history department at UCSD currently has no Greek-history professors, but that will change with the addition of three chairs in Greek history. The campus recently created the Gerry and Jeannie Ranglas Chair in Ancient Greek History and the Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Chair in Byzantine Greek History with donations totaling more than $1 million from San Diego’s Greek community.

When the $500,000 goal for the modern Greek history chair is met, UCSD will become the only university in the United States to have endowed faculty chairs for all three major eras of Greek history.

At the University of California, endowed chairs are teaching and research positions occupied by distinguished scholars. The university provides the teaching and research position and pays the salary of the people appointed to the endowed chairs.

The permanent endowed fund created by philanthropic gifts provides perpetual annual income in support of the teaching and research activities of the person holding the chair.

To help UCSD become an epicenter of Greek studies, Anagnostopoulos approached community leaders in Greek cultural organizations in San Diego. In less than two years, this fundraising campaign — using volunteers within the community to focus on one-on-one personal contacts — raised $1 million to finance the first two chairs. The third, in modern Greek history, is nearly funded.

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