The establishment and operation of the Centre for Hellenistic Studies in the Library of Alexandria constitutes a vision which came true thanks to the initiative of the President of the “Foundation for the Child and the Family”, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and the Chairman of the “Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation”, Mr. Antonis Papadimitriou, as well as the sponsorships of the “Vardinoyannis Foundation” and “The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation”.
The Center aims at the promotion of Greek culture abroad as well as the history of Hellenistic era during which the ancient Library of Alexandria was founded. Faculties of History, Philosophy, Literature and Fine Arts are composing the Centre for Hellenistic Studies. The Centre is accommodated by the Library, which in collaboration with Alexandria University will issue diplomas as well as Postgraduate and Doctorate degrees. The Library of Alexandria will provide the use of lecture and conference halls, whilst students from all over the world are to have free access to the Library’s facilities for research purposes. The courses will be taught in English. The Centre will be managed by seven Board Members, headed by the Library’s Director; an Academic Council comprising of esteemed academics specialising in the subjects researched at the Centre will also be formed. The Academic Council will serve as an advisory body to the Management Board, in matters concerning the Centre’s operation, the programmes of studies, the criteria of student selection, academic staff selection as well as the Centre’s relevant activities in general by monitoring the academic performance of its students.
The establishment of the Centre marks the opening of new paths of research and knowledge and yet another link in the chain of the good relations between Greece and Egypt. The inauguration ceremony was held in the Library of Alexandria in November 2008, under the auspices of the First Lady of Egypt, H.E. Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, and the presence of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II.
The event started with a speech by the Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin, who said, inter alia: “There could not be a more suitable place, symbolically or literary, for the operation of the Centre for Hellenistic Studies, than Alexandria, the city that Alexander the Great founded in 331 B.C. and was the capital of culture of the whole world at that time as well as the birth place of knowledge and science in the Hellenistic Period”. During his speech, Dr Ismail Serageldin praised Mrs. Vardinoyannis work, underlying that her participation in the Board of Trustees of the Library has been decisive for the development of the Library since the first moment of its constitution 9 years ago.
The Greek State was represented by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Theodore Kassimis, who addressed a warm greeting and congratulated Mrs. Vardinoyannis, and Mr Papadimitriou, for their important initiative; Mr Kassimis also announced that from 2009 onwards the Greek State will provide the Egyptian students with two more scholarships for studies in Greek universities.
Then, His Beatitude the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II addressed a greeting which was particularly touching as this was the first time that he had been given the chance to visit the Library and admire this astonishing achievement.
Speaking in turn, Mr. Antonis Papadimitriou said that the objective of his Foundation concerning the establishment of the Centre was to form a body of researchers from all over the world, who will focus on the Hellenistic Period, as in the Library of Alexandria there is great volume of material on this period yet to be explored.
During her speech, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, could not hide her emotions: “I will never forget the first time when Dr Ismail Serageldin and I proposed to H.E. Mrs Mubarak the idea of creating the Centre. She immediately embraced the idea and encouraged us in every step”. She further expressed her gratitude, as well as the
gratitude of the founder of “Vardinoyannis Foundation”, Mr Vardis Vardinoyannis, towards the President of Egypt, H.E. Mr Hosni Mubarak, as thanks to his vision and determination the Library of Alexandria revived, towards H.E. Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, “the soul of Library” as Mrs. Vardinoyannis characteristically stated, as well as towards Dr Ismail Serageldin, who worked as the head of the establishment of the Centre. She then concluded: “My family considered the foundation of the Centre for Hellenistic Studies a duty to our home country in order the ancient Greek spirit to be revived in the modern conservatory of culture, the Library of Alexandria”. Immediately after, Mrs. Vardinoyannis symbolically offered Dr Ismail Serageldin a book on the Hellenistic Period, so that it is the first one to be placed on the bookshelves of the Centre, as well as a silver tablet with the emblem of the Centre.
The ceremony closed with the lecture of Professor Nano Chatzidaki, who gave a presentation on the exhibition of Byzantine icons from the Velimezis-Margaritis collection, which was inaugurated immediately afterwards, integrating the opening of the Centre for Hellenistic Studies.
The event was also attended by: the Governor of Alexandria, Mr Adel Labib as well as other prominent personalities from the political and academic world of Egypt, the President of the Association of Friends of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Mr. Andreas Zaimis, Prof. Theodoros Panagopoulos, Dr Spiros Kamalakis, Prof. Efthymios Soulogiannis, many members of the Board of Trustees of the “Alexander S. Onassis Foundation” Mr. Apostolos Zampelas, Prof. Georgios Babiniotis, the former Ambassador Mr. Michael Sotirhos and his wife Estelle, Mr. Stefanos Tamvakis, Ms Anna Panagiotarea as well as, Mrs. Helen Papadimitriou, the Chairman of the Greek Festival, Mr. George Loukos, the Director of the New Acropolis Museum, Prof. Dimitris Pantermalis, and others.