It is with sadness that I write this final blog as the Director of the Institute. As of the 1st of July I will be officially retired from the position as the residential director of the Institute. I’ve held this position proudly since July 1st, 2005. With my year as the Acting Director in 1994/95 I will have led the Institute for 14 years in all.
These years have been most eventful for the Institute. Under my watch we bought two apartments at Dionysiou Aiginitou 7 and an historic house at Orminiou 3. Three colloquia were organized and their proceedings published. The Athens Association of Friends was resuscitated. We now cut our own Vasilopita each January. The program of lectures and events in the fall and winter/spring was expanded. Our presence in the popular social media platforms was established and later strengthened. The CIG Portal to the Past (www.portal.cig-icg.gr) was created as part of our public outreach efforts in Canada and beyond. The numerous archaeological fieldwork projects conducted under the aegis of the Institute with a permit from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport have been varied in research objects, chronological focus and location throughout Greece. The results of this research have been significant, if not “game changing”. Our relations with the Canadian Embassy in Greece are stronger than ever. The Institute’s Library holdings have been enlarged and the catalogue made more robust as well as accessible from the Institute’s website (www.cig-icg.gr). The demanding, tedious but necessary work of organizing, scanning and storing properly the archives of the Institute has reached an advanced state.
I have enjoyed working with the many undergraduate and graduate interns over the years. The annual Fellows have stimulated my thinking in many ways as well as helped me with Institute projects.
There remains more to be done, but that is central to the life of any successful institution. For starters The Portal to the Past needs to be expanded to allow for more components and more robust search functions. The biggest challenge at this moment, however, is for the requisite funds be raised so that our building at Orminiou 3 can be renovated and improved as we have envisioned in order to serve as the offices, library and residence of the annual Fellow. A crucial component of this project is the creation of The Canadian Cultural Centre in Greece on the upper floor. Here an 80-seat lecture space along with two large seminar / classrooms with state of the art ICT would allow for a variety of uses: lectures, undergraduate educational programs, graduate seminars, training workshops, business meetings, small ensemble concerts, or art exhibitions. The central hall joins these elements together along with the restrooms. The adjoining kitchen would allow for catered receptions. The terrace above offers another spacious venue for receptions associated with the use of the Cultural Centre. An external elevator would provide access for those with mobility issues.
At Brock University where I taught for thirty years, the Hellenic American Education Foundation where I served as the President of Athens College and Psychiko College for five years, and at the Institute as Director since 2005 I have always worked with my colleagues to build upon what we found and to leave the institution in a much better condition so that our successors are in an excellent position to continue the unending journey towards excellence. The Cultural Centre as I have proposed would be a most fitting legacy to my tenure as Director.
I was deeply honored by the generous words and the plaque that the Institute’s Board of Directors gave me at this year’s Open Meeting and by the luncheon that Canadian Ambassador Keith Morrill held for me this week. The recognition of my efforts and the words of appreciation warmed my heart greatly. It has been a great honor for me to serve the Canadian Institute in Greece as its Director. It was a good ride!!!
Metaxia, Romanos and I will continue to live in Exarcheia as our roots are firmly there. This summer I will again join Metaxia’s excavations at the Minoan cemetery of Petras in Siteia in eastern Crete for six weeks in July and August. As I have a number of book projects to complete I will frequent the city’s libraries and we will continue to attend lectures and seminars.
This is at least the 241st blog that I have written as Director. As this almost weekly habit has become engrained in my work week I have been thinking of starting a weekly blog this fall to share my personal views on a range of topics to whomever would care to read them. So beware!!!
So happy trails to you, keep smiling until then……………………………………………………………..!!!
Director (soon to be Emeritus)