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Fletcher Initiatives Boost Greek Scholarship

Nearly 40 years ago, when Constantine G. Karamanlis returned from self-exile to lead Greece in a time of crisis, it wasn’t clear if democracy would ever be restored to its birthplace. The cradle of democracy had swung far from the revolutionary idea that had emerged in Athens in the fifth century BCE. During Karamanlis’s life alone, the country had endured two civil wars, four dictatorships, four depositions of monarchs, and eight coups.

Undaunted, Karamanlis worked decisively to re-create a functioning democracy. He reinstituted due process, legalized Greece’s communist party, abolished the monarchy, and reduced the military’s power in the government. The foundation he built would usher in decades of prosperity and eventually gain Greece entrance into the European Union.

Once again a crisis threatens to rock the cradle of democracy. And once again Karamanlis is there—though now it’s through the endowed Constantine Karamanlis Chair in Hellenic and European Studies at the Fletcher School, which brings Greece’s finest scholars to Tufts and engages them in the process of reassessing and reaffirming democracy’s principles.

The Karamanlis Chair is part of the school’s Hellenic Initiatives, which also include scholarships (funded by both the National Bank of Greece and the Andreas A. David Trust) for Greek nationals to attend Fletcher. “Having lived in Athens as a child in the 1960s, I am especially supportive of our Hellenic Initiatives,” says Fletcher Dean James Stavridis. “They are powerful tools in our efforts to educate and train global leaders for the turbulent 21st century.”

A Greek-American as the new dean of the school brings “a new dynamism to the chair and initiatives,” according to Kostas A. Karamanlis, F00, nephew of the modern republic’s first leader and treasurer of the foundation that initiated the Karamanlis Chair in 2001. Yet the endowment for the Karamanlis Chair still needs more support. The Karamanlis Foundation has committed $100,000, matching any contribution dollar for dollar, to boost gifts for the chair.

The current financial crisis in Greece may be “a blessing in disguise,” says Kostas Karamanlis, in that international and academic communities are expressing renewed interest in the region. That Karamanlis sees the hope in a crisis is perhaps not surprising, given his family history—and given the enduring power of an ancient idea.

To learn more about the Hellenic Initiatives at the Fletcher School and how to support them, contact Assistant Director of Development Georgia Koumoundouros at 617-627-6082 or georgia.koumoundouros@tufts.edu.