In 1928, a group of energized students at the University of Pittsburgh, answered the call of Mrs. Ruth Crawford Mitchell and stepped up to take on the challenge of creating the Greek Room. They enlisted regional immigrants of Greek descent, some in position of leadership of the then young – but so energetic – Greek community, to join them in this challenge. Over the next 15 years, the students, all who eventually graduated and began successful careers, with the support of the Greek community of all of Western Pennsylvania, achieved the unthinkable. The Greek Nationality Room was a reality.
These visionary individuals, with the conviction that “we” and “togetherness” achieves great feats over the “me”, initiated, maintained and grew a vigorous program of intercultural involvement and exchange. A large sum, for its time, was donated to the University as an initial endowment for what would soon become a source of financial support of a program of annual student scholarship to facilitate study in a Greek academic or cultural institution, which more recently was extended to include the beautiful island of Aphrodite, Cyprus, a means of facilitating inspiring lectures, seminars, concerts, exhibitions, and social events which focus on the heritage of Greece, from its ancient times, to the more modern.
Over this time, those visionary individuals came together with members of other Nationality Room committees and people from the regional sister communities to celebrate what unites us and how Hellenism, in its universalizing embrace, shaped those heritages and cultures.
Among the notable founders are Charles T. Tumazos, Lillian Demestichas, Peter and John Antonoplos, James K. Steliotes, Dr. Stephen Pamphilis, Iro Caloyer, Peter Caloyer, Sarantis (Socrates) Lardas, Peter Demos, Thomas Birris, Peter G. Copetas, Sam Hanna, John Harris, Constantine A.Contis, George Loutsion, and the most notable of all, Nicholas Kalimerakis (Kalmer).
The Greek Room was formally dedicated on the 7th of November, 1941. It was such a glorious event. It brought together everyone in the Greek community. Led by the great Athenagoras Spyrou, the Archbishop of the then Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, a remarkable and inspiring historical figure of the Greek-American community, who would soon be elected to lead the then approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians of the world as Ecumenical Patriarch, it inspired not only the Greek community to think of the ways in which its culture could be shared with others, but also of how to bring the Greek community with sister communities.
Our Mission: To foster knowledge and appreciation of the history and culture of Greece, from ancient to modern times, among students, faculty, staff, and visitors. To sensitize about Greece's ciritcal role in the shaping of democracy, democratic ideals and the rule of law. To highlight the historical contributions of Greece to human civilization in the sciences, literature, and the arts. To remind that the central Hellenic virtues of philotimo (respect and honor of others) and philoxenia (friend of the stranger) are at the basis of Greece's intercultural thinking and evolution, and shape the way Greeks in Greece and in the Diaspora think of, and work with sister communities.
The Committee elected to serve and nurture the Mission conceptualizes and realizes events related to the history and culture of Greece, always aiming to educate and raise awareness among students, faculty, staff, and visitors. It works with a number of regional partners and entities in Greece in this regard.
The Committee also participates in the administration of the Scholarship, granted to meritorious students enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, for a summer study period in Greece or Cyprus.
For more information on the history of the room and committee, please visit Pitt Nationality Rooms | Documenting Pitt and search Greek Room Committee.
Opportunities to network with other cultural associations; networking with Greek philanthropic and state entities; access to scholarships and grants.