[MGSA-L] Australian professor to lead Greek university

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Sun Jan 27 21:54:51 PST 2013


Australian professor to lead Greek university

Makki Marseilles26 January 2013 Issue No:256

One of the first priorities of the newly elected first president of
the management council of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,
distinguished professor of classical Greek studies at Cambridge
University Professor Richard Hunter, will be to find realistic
solutions to the institution’s severe financial problems.

Speaking at a press conference following his episodic election, Hunter
revealed that together with pursuing his vision for the future of the
university and tackling its restricted finances, his intention is to
establish rules and regulations that will be observed by everybody.

“One of the chief responsibilities of the council of management,” he
said, “is the formation of an audit committee (as well as other
special committees), which will not only supervise all the financial
activities but will also inform members during their regular

He emphasised that another of the management council’s basic concerns
would be to open the university up not only to society but also to the
international scientific community, and to attract the cooperation of

He said that the education ministry, in order to affect greater
savings, was proposing through the ‘Athina’ plan a series of mergers
and-or abolitions of academic courses, departments and even entire
universities. For this reason, a sub-committee had already been formed
to monitor the effects of this policy.

Richard Hunter (59) was born in Australia and studied at the
University of Sydney. On completing his PhD at Cambridge in 2001 he
was immediately elected to the Greek Chair there and later the same
year became a member of the Athens Academy.

He has enjoyed a long and fruitful cooperation with Aristotle
University of Thessaloniki, where he was made an honorary member in
2004. He is a top professor of Greek and classical studies, has taught
at many universities in Europe, the US and Australia, and has written
several books and articles. He is an ardent lover of Greece.

Hunter’s appointment at the helm of the council ends a very long and
acrimonious dispute between the university and the education ministry.

Rector Giannis Mylopoulos played a leading role – along with a large
majority of other rectors – in opposing implementation of the
legislation 4009/2011 introduced by former secretary of state for
education Anna Diamantopoulou, who is now out of government office.

Mylopoulos, who appeared at Hunter’s side at the press conference,
said: “Professor Hunter is an international academic personality and
his knowledge of Greek civilisation and culture is a guarantee that he
is able to assimilate quickly the current Greek reality.”

He went on to say: “By its participation in the election process, the
Greek academic community has shown that the period of conflict is now
a thing of the past and that what is important, in a period of very
deep economic crisis, is the survival and the progress of the Greek
university, whose primary role is producing and conveying knowledge.”

Hunter and the new management council were elected by electronic poll,
because the traditional process of election was disrupted on several
occasions by students and academics who opposed the provisions of the

The new 14-member council includes eight internal members elected from
the staff of the university and six external members who are working
in higher education establishments in foreign countries.

Mylopoulos will remain in his position until the end of his term – but
without his three vice-rectors – and will assist the new president in
his duties.

It is not clear whether rectors in other universities where elections
have been held and presidents have been elected will also remain in
their positions or resign, and-or whether the position of rector will
be abolished or will remain as another tier of academic management.

Meanwhile, a great deal of unrest is simmering in the ranks of
academics who have seen their salaries reduced by more than 50% and
the budgets of institutions also cut by more than half.

It is thought that the government is attempting to privatise higher
education. The bastions of free state education have all but collapsed
and the void is likely to be filled by private college owners, with
possibly dire implications for the future of higher education.

Already one of these college founders and aspiring university owners
has been arrested for fraudulent practices, having collected from the
state large amounts of money with forged documents.

More than 2,000 lecturers at Aristotle University were called upon to
vote for representatives of the Unified Association of Management and
Research Unions as well as for representatives for the Panhellenic
Federation of University Teachers Associations.

Academic and administrative staff are voting in support of social
reforms, a substantial increase in the government’s grant aid to
institutions and a serious improvement in working conditions, salaries
and wages.

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com

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