Thomas C. Katsouleas was formally inaugurated as the 16th president of the University of Connecticut on Friday, October 4th at an event that was dubbed by the local and university media as “My Big Fat Greek Inauguration,” given the large presence of Greeks who came from far and wide to participate, including the new president’s father Steven, who came from Greece —as well as Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.
With all the traditional pomp and circumstance of an academic ceremony, Katsouleas used the inauguration to share his vision for the future of university, including announcing a new program that will allow low-income Connecticut residents admitted to UConn as undergraduates to receive free tuition.
The tuition initiative, known as the Connecticut Commitment, will begin for the fall 2020 entering class and applies to families with an annual household income of $50,000 or below.
In his remarks, Katsouleas addressed the ever-changing makeup of the traditional liberal arts education.
“We must also work to enhance and even redefine the value proposition of a liberal arts education,” he said. “The traditional 20th century role of liberal arts education of imparting knowledge and instilling identity is not enough. The liberal arts education of the 21st century must also increase agency and purpose. When I speak to legislators, they see the role of the public universities and colleges as work force development, while the faculty I speak to see it as human development. Fortunately, there is no inconsistency between these two views.”
Following numerous speeches and performances by university musical groups, Andrea Dennis-LaVigne, master of ceremonies and vice chair of the UConn Board of Trustees, closed the event with an invitation to all in attendance to address the new president with the Greek word “Axios,” meaning “worthy.”
“Axios,” everyone exclaimed.
** Featured image courtesy of Peter Morenus/UConn Photo
Following the ceremonies, Katsouleas shared the following personal message via Instagram:
“It was a wonderful day for a great university to celebrate itself thanks to the talented faculty who shared the wonder of their discoveries and talents and to all who came together for the inauguration. It is a privilege to work with and for all of you! Thanks especially to the Hellenic student group for dancing with me! ‘Opa! And thank you MC Andrea Dennis-LaVigne for the word of the day and forward—AXIOS (worthy)!”
** Courtesy of Katsouleas’ Instagram
Watch his speech
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