The legacy of ancient Greece will influence the most significant teaching and learning infrastructure project undertaken by the Faculty of Arts at Melbourne University for many years, as it recently accepted a gift of $1 million towards the endowment of a new Chair in Classics.

Presented to the faculty by Mr Allan Myers AO QC as part of a $10 million donation to the university as a whole, this gift will enable the faculty to build an exciting new teaching and research program in ancient languages, literature, philosophy and culture.

Professor Mark Considine, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, told Neos Kosmos that with this gift, and the support of other generous alumni and friends towards the university’s Classics Trust Fund, the university is building a legacy that will ensure future students are introduced to the significance of the ancient world, especially the legacy of ancient Greece.

As the new home of the Bachelor of Arts, the building will mirror some of the traditional features of a university environment – including a redeveloped atrium and colonnades.

With over 2,400 objects in the university’s Classics and Archaeology Collection, spaces have been designed to focus on teaching that uses casts and original objects to create dynamic new classrooms and facilities.

Mr Considine expressed his hopes that the two – the new teaching facilities and a leading scholar on the chair level – will come together about the same time. With demolition works planned for this summer, it is expected that the first classes in the new building will commence in the second semester of 2016.

Underlining his conviction that “if you believe in something, then you must support it”, distinguished lawyer and philanthropist Mr Allan Myers told Neos Kosmos he had made the gift as “we must do more than just talk, we must invest in the future”.

Mr Myers is the chair of Melbourne Humanities Foundation and the Believe Campaign, the University of Melbourne’s philanthropic campaign in support of teaching positions, research and scholarships, with its main priority being securing funds for a Chair in Classics.

Mr Myers is confident that the interest of students for Ancient Greek, that has been taught continuously at the University of Melbourne since its foundation in 1854 and is a core element of the Faculty of Arts’ Classics Program, still exists today.

Teaching the great legacy of ancient Greece to new generations of students at Melbourne is one way in which knowledge of Greek identity can be maintained and transformed. With the announcement of the donation for the new Chair in Classics, Mr Myers called for the Greek community to join in support of classics by donating money or advocating to others to support it.

In their efforts to celebrate the links to the Greek Australian community in Melbourne, University of Melbourne and Ms Christina Simantirakis, Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, will host a panel discussion to celebrate 160 years of Ancient Greek at the university. The discussion, entitled ‘Ancient Greece and the Modern University: Foundations of our Humanity’ will see esteemed members of the university’s Classics program gather at the event this Tuesday.

“The most important part of the event is to try and build stronger connections with the community – we’ve always enjoyed informal relationships with the community but we haven’t had any kind of structure to pursue that relationship in a more organised fashion. This is the first opportunity to showcase parts of the program but also to invite community members and community leaders to give us feedback on their view of what we are doing and their level of interest,” Mr Considine told Neos Kosmos.