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Chair named for father of modern Greek democracy

A gift from the Karamanlis Foundation in Athens has completed funding for the Constantine Karamanlis Chair in Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies at the Fletcher School. The professorship honors the memory of the Greek premier who restored democratic rule to Greece. Greece lays claim to the first Fletcher graduate to become a head of government: Kostas Karamanlis, F82, F84, above, the current prime minister and Constantine Karamanlis' nephew. With more than three dozen alumni, Greece has the sixth largest population of Fletcher School graduates in Europe. These strong transatlantic ties, and the support of Greek Americans and alumni in the United States, have given Fletcher students a closeup perspective on the evolution of democracy in Europe.

The Karamanlis Chair, established in 2001, honors the legacy of a European statesman known as the father of modern Greek democracy. Constantine Karamanlis restored democratic rule after the fall of a military regime in the mid-1970s and led the nation as prime minister and president for nearly 30 years.

The professorship rotates annually to enable scholars of varying disciplines to offer a different lens through which to view Southeastern Europe. The four holders to date have represented the fields of political science, history, and geography.

"A deep knowledge of Europe in the United States is critical," says the current Karamanlis Associate Professor in Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies, Kostas Lavdas, a political scientist from the University of Crete. "Today's Greece is firmly embedded in the European Union. And the accomplishments of the European Union are particularly relevant to an understanding of modern diplomacy and of the use of 'soft power' in international relations."

Constantine A. Karamanlis, F00, cousin to the current prime minister and a member of the Karamanlis Foundation board and of the Fletcher School's Board of Overseers, says, "We are proud of the chair's accomplishments and the work of all four professors, and we look forward to the chair's further growth. As a Fletcher graduate myself, I am particularly happy to see the chair providing an important bridge between Tufts, our foundation, and Greece."