The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Arts has received a significant donation from the Greek community, helping to establish a new Chair in Classics.

The funds were generously donated by Professor James Tatoulis and his wife Elizabeth, both proud alumni of the university who hold a strong belief in the power of education enriching and transforming the lives of students.

“We have been fortunate recipients of the fine education that Australia provides, which has allowed us to be successful and to be in a position to contribute back to our society,” the couple said.

Named the Elizabeth and James Tatoulis Chair in Classics, the grant will go a long way in helping to fund and support research into ancient worlds, as well as teaching and community engagement.

Both fostering a personal interest in the ancient world for many years – Mrs Tatoulis a classics scholar and teacher – the couple recognise the important legacy of ancient Greece and Rome on contemporary society.

“The Ancient Greek and Roman world influences our society in philosophy, politics, law, literature, language, culture, architecture, engineering, science and medicine,” said Mrs Tatoulis. “In short, it forms the basis of western civilisation.”

Mrs Tatoulis has a long history as an advocate for education in Australia and abroad.

Following the completion of her teaching degree at the Ballarat Teacher’s College, in the early 1970s she went on to teach at inner Melbourne primary schools with a large immigrant population where she recognised the need for English as a Second Language programs.

After going on to complete a graduate diploma in Inter-Ethnic Studies at the University of Melbourne she became heavily involved in Migrant Education, creating innovative programs for young children.

Professor Tatoulis, the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s director of cardiothoracic surgery, has endeavoured to maintain his ties with the university throughout the years, currently a professorial fellow in the Department of Surgery.

In a statement released by the university, the Faculty of Arts said that it is “honoured to receive the gift, made through Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne, and considers the Elizabeth and James Tatoulis Chair in Classics a significant benefit to the national study of classics and the broader community.”

Melbourne’s Believe Campaign is the university’s largest fundraising initiative, which aims to raise $500 million by the end of 2017 to advance the university’s teaching and learning, research and engagement aims.

And according to associate professor Parshia Lee-Stecum, classics is a great place to start, the subject area considered to be one of the university’s cornerstones of scholarship and history.

“Classics has been taught at the University of Melbourne since the University first opened for teaching in 1855,” said associate professor Lee-Stecum.
“We’ve seen a growing interest in classical scholarship in Australia in recent years. Almost all students have the opportunity to explore classical civilisations at high school, and community interest in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds remains high. This Chair offers wonderful benefits to our students and furthers the study of classics in Australia.”

Professor Tatoulis wished to express that the endowment of the Chair in Classics was in large part made possible through his wife’s encouragement.
“We wish to support and encourage interest and scholarship in the humanities in general, but in the classics in particular and support committed scholars in the area of academic endeavour,” they said.