Saturday, June 27 – The evening belonged to them, as family, friends, faculty, staff, as well as Trustees from The American College of Greece (ACG) gathered to wish the more than 300 DEREE undergraduate and graduate students well in their new lives and share enduring pearls of wisdom.
Renowned archaeologist and Acropolis Museum President Dimitrios Pandermalis encouraged graduating DEREE students to be vigilant and flexible, and view obstacles as opportunities during his 2015 Commencement Address.
“In this difficult environment, young people commencing their professional careers need to be both vigilant and particularly flexible,” Professor Pandermalis, PhD, noted at the teeming ACG Track & Field.
A former MP, Aristotle University professor and dean of its Philosophy School, Dr. Pandermalis urged the Class of 2015 from 17 countries to “cultivate and develop every ability you believe you have and that you seek to find and develop new abilities and talents… I believe that difficulties are simultaneously challenges that can stimulate inventiveness and courage.”
Dr. Pandermalis cited the goddess Athena as an example: “The incomparable success of Athens of the 5th century BC… codified in the form of the goddess Athena with her main characteristic being her resourceful intelligence that never holds back in the face of any obstacle and knows how to find solutions even in those difficult situations where there appears to be no way out.”
Professor Pandermalis also said that students had the good fortune to study in an academic institution that is “oriented simultaneously towards two cultures…you have had the good fortune for your studies to be guided by an enlightened administration with initiative and ambition. But now your destiny is in your hands.”
In recognition of his important contribution to education, culture, and society, ACG President Dr. David G. Horner awarded Dr. Pandermalis the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, to wide applause.
In his speech, Dr. Horner also noted that despite the difficult circumstances in Greece, people need to take heart and “dare to believe, indeed we insist, that light can overcome darkness.”
Awarding the Class of 2015 their degrees, Dr. Horner also urged graduates to “embrace learning as a lifelong journey. Reflect with gratitude on all that you have been given and give generously to others,” adding, “Graduates of 2015, we are proud of your accomplishments; we are the better for our association with you as colleagues in learning, and we send you forth in confidence to share your considerable gifts with a world that needs the contributions that you, uniquely, can offer!”
Taking the stage, Dr. Musa Mihsein, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Open University, United Kingdom, noted that the Open University “is proud to be a part of this journey. It is occasions such as this that really remind us what our work is all about,” he noted.
Speaking on behalf of all the graduating students, honors student Maria Zoe Papaioannou, a Finance major, who is also about to complete her studies at the National Polytechnic University of Athens with a degree in Applied Mathematics, urged her fellow graduates to be the “light.”
“After all, there are two ways of spreading light, as Edith Wharton revealed,” Ms. Papaioannou said. “Either be the candle or be the mirror that reflects it. We have an obligation towards our society, especially during these challenging times. Don’t worry about the uncertainty accompanying the current status of the world. When nothing is sure, everything is possible…So, let us be honest, passionate and responsible. Let us dare to be eternal optimists and take that extra step. Let us transcend limits and inspire others. Let us be persistent in striving for excellence and in continuing to develop and adapt. Above all, let us be grateful for what we have and who we have become… When the odds are one in a million, YOU be THAT one. Take that light and light the world. Fellow graduates of DEREE Class of 2015: Dream. Dare. Demand – of yourself – to be all that you can be.”
As graduates threw their caps in the air, joining the ranks of 40,000 ACG alumni in Greece and across the world, the night sky lit up with hundreds of fireworks over the Agia Paraskevi campus, marking the new beginning, or commencement, of the DEREE Class of 2015.
Also attending the Commencement Ceremony were a host of distinguished personalities from business, politics and media.
The Commencement Ceremony was broadcast via live streaming on the DEREE-ACG homepage.
About 2015 Commencement Speaker Dr. Dimitrios Pandermalis
Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis, a former MP, who first came to prominence leading the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s important excavation work at the site of ancient Dion and later for his rich academic career, is currently professor emeritus of classical archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where he served as president of the History and Archaeology Department, and as dean of the Philosophical School.
Professor Pandermalis, PhD oversaw the construction of the landmark new Acropolis Museum, beginning in 2000, and became its president when it opened to the public in 2009. Among other distinctions, Dr. Pandermalis has been named Grand Commander of the Order of Phoenix of the Hellenic Republic and Commander, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland. He has also served as a Member of the Hellenic Parliament from 1996 to 2000.