Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, a prominent businessman and attorney from Roseville, Calif., presented Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger a check for $1 million to establish a chair in Hellenic Studies. The donation was made as a tribute to Mr. Tsakopoulos' late grandfather -- for whom he is named -- and to focus study on the timeless relevance of the teachings of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle.
"My grandfather exemplified what it was to have character and be a good man, and that's what Aristotle teaches," said Tsakopoulos, who is president and chief executive officer of KT Development Corporation, a diversified land development company headquartered in Roseville, about 20 miles east of Sacramento, Calif.
The gift will establish the Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Chair in Hellenic Studies in the Classics Department as well as an annual lecture series titled "Aristotle and the Moderns."
"This chair will make Columbia one of the premier centers for Modern Greek Studies in the United States," said Professor Karen Van Dyck, the director of the Program in Hellenic Studies at Columbia University.
Tsakopoulos is a graduate of the Program in Hellenic Studies and Columbia University and currently serves on the Board of Visitors of Columbia College. "I owe Columbia University a huge debt of gratitude," he said. "With this chair and other things I plan to do beyond it, I hope I can begin to repay that debt."
The annual lecture series will focus on the importance and relevance of Aristotle's teachings in today's world, particularly with regard to his books The Politics and The Ethics. "Our notions of justice and the importance of the rule of law, the definition of what it is to be a good person and a good citizen, are most eloquently and accurately described by Aristotle in these two books," Tsakopoulos said.
The donation is being made to Columbia University through The Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Fund of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. Additional contributions to this endowment from the University and from other sources will also support this chair.
Tsakopoulos and his family have been generous supporters of higher education throughout the nation and in their home state of California , where he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the California State University system. He and his family currently are helping create a private four-year university near Roseville , and have offered to donate 1,100 acres of land for the project.
As president and CEO of KT Development, Tsakopoulos is responsible for the management and operation of several real estate, farming, building, land development projects and investments. His emphasis is on development of multi-use land projects, strategic planning for national and international acquisitions, and implementation of the chairman's management of the group's several companies.
Tsakopoulos is a California native and is active in regional and national civic, charitable and political affairs. He is the chairman of the University of California at Davis MIND Research and Development Institute, which is pursuing research into the cause, effective treatments and, ultimately, cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. He also is a Democratic National Committee member and sits on the board of directors of several organizations, including the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Calif., and the Washington, D.C.-based Western Policy Center.
In addition, Tsakopoulos is a member of the California and U.S. Supreme Court Bars.