Sunday, November 27, 2005



With a series of gifts, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos and other members of the Tsakopoulos family have made major contributions to the development of modern and classic Hellenic studies at Columbia University, Georgetown University, and Stanford University.

Kyriakos Tsakopoulos is the President and CEO of KT Communities (a land development company in California), and a member of the Board of Trustees of the California State University System.

As part of the enriched program, Columbia University inaugurated the Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Memorial Lectures, "Aristotle and the Moderns," in honor of Kyriakos Tsakopoulos' grandfather, who had the same name.

Nikiforos Diamandouros, the European Ombudsman, presented the first lecture in the series, a very interesting public lecture on the conditions necessary for a government Ombudsman to be successful. He discussed how the institution of the Ombudsman developed very recently, beginning less than a hundred years ago, only spreading rapidly in the last few decades. Then, he described the necessity for a tradition of "Rule Of Law" as being even more important than the existence of a democracy as a pre-condition for success, where this Rule Of Law means the government respects the importance and right of fair treatment of all its citizens. The Ombudsman -- who does not have any powers of enforcement -- is then in a position to bring issues to the government and have reasonable success in resolving those problems.

In response to a question, Diamandouros speculated on the reason why there is no government Ombudsman in the United States (although some individual states and some corporations have Ombudsmen). He suggested one factor might be the development over the years of litigation as the primary means of resolving disputes and conflicts in the US, before the institution of Ombudsman had developed.

In addition to his contributions to Hellenic studies, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos recently made a contribution to the Thurnauer School of Music at the JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, NJ, a community music school just outside New York. The school is a center for training young musicians and includes studies in many instruments, voice, music theory, jazz, chamber, and orchestral music.

Part of the contribution will go to support the scholarship fund of the Gift Of Music Benefit Concert featuring Maxim Vengerov, on May 22nd, 2006.

(The Gift Of Music is an annual event, established by Joan and Alan Handler, in which world famous musicians interact with the students in an afternoon workshop, and then perform in an evening concert to benefit the scholarship fund. Joshua Bell, Claude Frank, Gil Shaham, Marian McPartland, David Finckel and Wu Han, Pamela Frank, the Juilliard Quartet, Paula Robison, and Wynton Marsalis are among the many extremely distinguished musicians who have participated.)

Classical studies have been languishing for decades and it may be hoped that these contributions will stimulate increased interest in the classics, and in their relevance to modern life, as well as developing cross-pollination and cultural bridges with other intellectual, cultural and political institutions serving the interests of the public.

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