Dr. Arthur Vailas, a prominent US educator who served as President of Idaho State University who is credited with bringing the first Medical School to the state of Idaho, will be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Hellenic American University at its 12th Commencement in Athens on June 20, 2019.
The University will be honoring Dr. Vailas, a son of Greek immigrant parents, for what it terms his inspiring record of achievement and service in teaching, research and educational leadership.
Dr. Vailas is the most recent in a series of prominent Greek-American, American and Greek scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, philanthropists and spiritual leaders that the University has honored in this way.
Previous recipients have included physicist Dr. Dimitris Nanopoulos; the former leader of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Aristidis Patrinos; His Eminence Gabriel, Metropolitan of Nea Ionia and Phladelphia; and social entrepreneur Danialle Karmanos.
The University’s Commencement coincides with its 15th anniversary. In its brief history to date, it has achieved several institutional milestones, the most important of which has been gaining accreditation status in the United States. First accredited in 2012, it was recently re-accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) in 2017 for a 10-year period.
The New Hampshire-chartered institution operates instructional locations in both Nashua, NH and Athens, Greece. As Hellenic American University co-founder and current President Leonidas Phoebus Koskos notes, the University serves a mission to educate its students to be global citizens. It’s one that’s expressed, for example, in the emphasis it places on civic engagement. Undergraduates are expected to complete 45 hours of service-based learning as part of their undergraduate general education program.
But the University’s extraversion is also reflected in its student body. Though most students on its Athens campus are Greek, more than 25% of the University’s total student body are international, US or dual-nationality students, with more than 30 nationalities from Europe, Asia and Africa represented.
A contingent of another 200 or so US students arrives each year at the Athens campus through the University’s Study Abroad programs. Some come in two-week study-travel programs led by faculty from their home university. Others arrive for a semester of full-time study, mostly in one of the University’s undergraduate degree programs in English, Psychology, Music, Informatics or Business Administration.
Most of these degree programs are offered at the Master’s level as well, in addition to graduate programs in Translation and Conference Interpreting. The institution also offers a Ph.D. program in Applied Linguistics, taught in large part by a team of eminent visiting scholars in the field from institutions such as UC-Berkeley, Columbia University, University of Lancaster and Georgetown University.
For President Koskos, the Ph.D. program is representative of the importance the University places on facilitating access to higher education. “I doubt if there’s anywhere else in the world where students of Applied Linguistics are given the opportunity to study with so many internationally renowned scholars,” he says.
The commitment to accessibility also guides the University’s scholarship policy, which provides guaranteed aid to students with demonstrated financial need. According to University’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Leonidas Tzonis, roughly 85% of students received financial aid in the recent academic year.