[MGSA-L] News about the C. P. Cavafy Professorship at UM

Van Steen, Gonda gonda.van_steen at kcl.ac.uk
Tue Dec 18 12:50:28 PST 2018

Congratulations, Artemis. So well deserved! Αξια!! Thank you for all you have given to UMich, to the MGSA, and to each one of us.
We wish you luck in your new position.

From: MGSA-L <mgsa-l-bounces at maillists.uci.edu> On Behalf Of Artemis Leontis
Sent: 18 December 2018 14:02
To: MGSA-List <mgsa-l at uci.edu>
Subject: [MGSA-L] News about the C. P. Cavafy Professorship at UM

Dear friends and colleagues,

I have been named the new C. P. Cavafy Professor of Modern Greek Studies and Comparative Literature, LSA at the University of Michigan, effective Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2022. You can see the Regent's announcement here in the December 6 issue of the University Record<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Frecord.umich.edu%2Farticles%2Fregents-roundup-december-2018&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=b2qxsXnhsss6EC8wJ9vKCITgUy6dNsX%2BFSGQ9CJH2HA%3D&reserved=0> (scroll down to "Regents' Roundup."

Because the MGSA list is attentive to how positions are announced and filled, I want to give the backstory of this position, so that you can understand the steps taken and know where the UM Modern Greek has been and where it is going. The C. P.Cavafy Professorship was endowed in 1999 <https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fmodgreek%2Fabout-us%2Fc-p--cavafy-professorship.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=1quFi0ZgJXezci5uY8IajbgxcnLaIcHGARBs1SEZKeQ%3D&reserved=0> through a gift from the Foundation forModern Greek Studies, a grass roots organization in SE Michigan<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fmodgreek%2Fendowments-gifts%2Fannual-support.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=ar5%2FbYudqKCyoPuUVS07UbQqaAiEgfJw3D%2BC5ug%2F%2Fw0%3D&reserved=0> that worked tirelessly to raise the money through many small donations. VassilisLambropoulos <https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fmodgreek%2Fpeople%2Fprogram-faculty%2Fvlambrop.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=XN4JbEhfa82xKoyCg8XDRSsLiYx6cyDMbsimSTcGbZ8%3D&reserved=0> was hired that year and inaugurated in the position. From 1999 to June 1, 2018, he worked to build the Modern Greek program, creating a curriculum and a major and minor in Modern Greek, advising undergraduates, teaching in Classics and Modern Greek, advising many graduate students in Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Linguistics, and other department, working with donors, and organizing hundreds of events. In 1999 I was hired as a part-time adjunct, and in 2007 the department, college, and regents voted to hire me as associate professor of Modern Greek. Additionally, our brilliant colleague Dr. Despina Margomenou<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fmodgreek%2Fpeople%2Fprogram-faculty%2Fmargomen.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=2fSDq6RBfoakcS3jMOcF4SXNkS5pb2vnyLT%2B%2BfFAfXA%3D&reserved=0>, an anthropologist, in has worked tirelessly as Lecturer III-IV of Modern Greek (and previously as a GSI and Lecturer I), teaching hundreds of students Greek, advising graduate students in Anthropology and Classical Archaeology, developing courses, taking students to Greece, working on collaborative projects with faculty across campus, including Johannes Foufopoulos, Associate Professor of Natural Resources, and shaping our curriculum in inspiring, innovative ways. Dr. Panagiotis Pafilis was Lecturer I of Modern Greek from 2007 to 2010 and is now Professor of Biology at the University of Athens, often helping us with student studies and internships in Greece. Thus Vassilis did not work alone.

When Vassilis announced his retirement, I was asked to take this position but chose not to because I wanted to be sure that the Classics and Comp Lit would hire a new faculty to be present and trained and active after i retire. It wasn't clear then that both were possible. The associate dean in fact said this would not be the case. I took on the role of the Chair of the Department of Classical Studies in part to be sure that there will be an able successor in the Modern Greek position when I retire.

The search for the chair last year was a senior position for which I did not apply. We identified a very strong candidate. The person handled themselves very professionally, was sincere throughout the process, and finally determined that they were not in a suitable position to take the job. One of the reasons was that the Cavafy Chair, which is not just an honorary position but has administrative, program building duties, felt quite daunting. In July, the dean of LSA and associate dean asked me to take the position and promised to reopen the search for a second joint, tenure track position in Modern Greek next year. They pointed to my research, teaching, and service record, my record as Editor of the JMGS, my work on the MGSA, my knowledge of the university and the field. They are very excited about my new book<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fpress.princeton.edu%2Ftitles%2F13287.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=zM27t%2FVgEu1bQ0Lh4IOlu%2Bmr6Nqq%2FE80zWNQ7PvhAy8%3D&reserved=0>, which will be published in March. It seemed like the right thing for me to accept the offer, especially because it will put me in the position to keep building the Modern Greek Program and to oversee the hiring and mentoring the next faculty and, eventually, the next C. P. Cavafy Chair.

It is an honor and an immense challenge to build on the work of Vassilis Lambropoulos. One of the challenges is thinking about how language and area studies, particularly Greek studies, should develop in a large public American research university over the next 10 years.

Fortunately there are structures in place for the fundamental work. I have the great pleasure of working with Despina Margomenou, a brilliant colleague. I also have marvelous colleagues also in Classics and in Comparative literature and across campus: YopiePrins<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fclassics%2Fpeople%2Fadjunct-faculty%2Fyprins.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=Rx33TTHwYI6SdDTf0Ud0%2B8hYyDamThsPdgtHeTzrYqM%3D&reserved=0> in Comparative Literature, Tatjana Aleksic<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fmodgreek%2Fpeople%2Faffiliated-faculty%2Fatatjana.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=95%2FuOknF4%2FadUagek1ACDvbgMOj4cZwgCFmkd5pRoL4%3D&reserved=0> in Comparative Literature and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Johannes Foufopoulos<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fmodgreek%2Fpeople%2Faffiliated-faculty%2Fjfoufop.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=W49yfUcry3K2SuywaTBOZ8kukcKdx8xYbCTQF%2Fp6PKk%3D&reserved=0> in the School of Natural Resources, George Tsebellis<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flsa.umich.edu%2Fmodgreek%2Fpeople%2Faffiliated-faculty%2Ftsebelis.html&data=01%7C01%7Cgonda.van_steen%40kcl.ac.uk%7C270b9a31923a4041fa1908d66506c0eb%7C8370cf1416f34c16b83c724071654356%7C0&sdata=v7VUTvRseuHoLG36f8856yPgyU9WEKYHDYvU2FbyrOs%3D&reserved=0> in Political Science, Jeremy Chamberlin in Creative Writing (and previously Natalie Bakopoulos), Jim Cogswell in Art and Design, and many others. We have wonderful students and alumni. Last year we had 7 students graduated with a major (4) or minor (7). They included Akshay Neellesh Chhajed (BBA, Minor in Modern Greek and in International Studies), a student from Mumbai, who, in the summer of 2017, Akshay volunteered as a medical translator and cultural mediator at the Moria Refugee Camp, Lesbos,  Greece through the Emergency Response Centre International, an NGO, using his considerable language skills in Greek, Urdu/Hindi, French, and English. Additionally 12 graduate students in classics and two professors with knowledge of ancient Greek took an intensive 1-semester beginning class with me to learn to communicate in Greek on a basic level and (in several cases) prepare themselves for research in Greece. We also worked hard to place students in internships and study abroad. Last year 7 students worked with marvelous partners in Greece (from the Press Project to Anatolia College, the Center for Asia Minor Studies, and Solidarity Now) and/or studied in Greece, and we offered fellowships to support them. We are planning a busy winter series of events, which we will announce shortly, and a newsletter will be in the mail early in January.

Classical Studies and Comparative Literature will search for someone to fill a joint tenure track position in Modern Greek and Comparative Literature next year. The position will be open rank and include people who would be hired at the assistant level. Searches at UM happen in a pretty transparent way. There is no inside candidate.

If you feel inspired, please send me your thoughts about Modern Greek Studies in the US in the 21st century.


Artemis Leontis
Artemis Leontis
Professor of Modern Greek and Chair, Department of Classical Studies
University of Michigan
Arts & Humanities Editor, Journal of Modern Greek Studies
email:  aleontis at umich.edu<mailto:aleontis at umich.edu>
telephone: (734) 647-2313
office address:  2156 Angell Hall, 435 S. State Street Ann Arbor MI 48109
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