LAS alumnus supports Hellenic studies at Illinois

Gift from George Reveliotis funds Modern Greek Program
George Reveliotis
George Reveliotis (BA, '96, history) is supporting the Department of Classics to strengthen Hellenic studies and classical civilization courses, including the Modern Greek Program. (Photo courtesy of George Reveliotis.)

How do you make a difference? It’s not a simple question when you think about it, like George Reveliotis has. He’s in his mid-40s now, with a wife and four children, and he runs his own property tax and real estate law firm, Reveliotis Law, P.C. in Park Ridge, Illinois. He’s seen enough to know the kind of things that carry significance.

Reveliotis (BA, ’96, history) pledged $118,000 to fund a lecturer in the Department of Classics with specialization in Hellenic studies and classical civilization courses, as part of an effort to strengthen and support the program at Illinois. This comes after he already funded a teaching assistant position for the current school year. Thanks to Reveliotis’s generosity, the Modern Greek Program was able to continue offering all four semesters of language courses under the leadership of Professor Antony Augoustakis and graduate student Maria Kontari.

Reveliotis said the decision to give came from the perspective he’s gained as an attorney, as he’s worked with clients from all over the world who came to America. He muses that he’s learned more from them than they’ve learned from him, as he’s been in unique position to see their successes, their failures, and their determination to succeed.

“They came here to the United States and they lived the American dream, they fought hard,” he said. “Looking at all of that, the older we get we tend to evaluate things differently from how we did when we were young and we want to leave something behind that has substance. I really want to leave something behind that carries a different type of value—a value that could carry on into a type of perpetuity and would influence not just my inner core of people.”

What better way to do it, he said, than within the scholastic community?

“Especially within a community that you know very well,” he added. “The University of Illinois is a very prestigious institution that attracts people from all over the world. I think financially endowing this program can give a wonderful impact.”

Reveliotis said that many benefits can come from an exceptionally strong program in Hellenic studies under the Department of Classics. Growing up with a Greek background, he said, helped him tremendously with understanding English words because he understood their etymology—the Latin that English derives from is largely derived from Greek. He added that our world has been deeply influenced by Greece for centuries.

“I think in order for scholars to truly understand our contemporary civilization, there must be a serious center on Hellenism,” Reveliotis said. “A lot of the disciplines that universities offer—philosophy, biology, chemistry, psychology—these are all subject matters that began during that time period in that part of the world. In my mind it’s like the yolk that binds everything together.”

Augoustakis, who is also head of the Department of Classics, said that George’s pledge is an extraordinary gesture of support for the department and the Modern Greek program. The Department of Classics began to offer Modern Greek language classes last August and with great success.

Classics is a thriving department in the College of LAS offering a variety of classes to thousands of students every year. Classical mythology enrolls 1,500 students every year and has a very long tradition at the university for many generations of undergraduates.

The department has been offering ancient Greek since the early years of the university and to all student levels from undergraduate to graduate. Peer institutions offer Modern Greek and have established programs in Hellenic studies, which is our long-term goal, Augoustakis said.

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Dave Evensen