The American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Lloyd Cotsen at the opening of Cotsen Hall in 2005


Gennadius Library Overseers to Award Gennadius Prize to Lloyd E. Cotsen

The Overseers of the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) will honor Lloyd E. Cotsen, former President of the ASCSA Trustees and the first Chairman of the Overseers, as the second recipient of the Gennadius Prize for “outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge of post-antique Greece” at the ASCSA Gala in New York City on May 10, 2017.

After receiving his A.B. from Princeton University in 1950, Cotsen served as a Lieutenant J.G. in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He entered Princeton’s Architecture School in 1954, and the following summer served as the Field Architect for the ASCSA excavations at Lerna, producing illustrations that are essential for the understanding of that important Bronze Age site. After receiving his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1957, he began a long and successful career at Neutrogena Corporation (ultimately becoming Chairman and CEO), but he returned to Greece every summer for more than 20 seasons to execute the architectural drawings for the excavations at Lerna, Kea and Pylos. Over this long period, he developed a strong attachment to the ASCSA, where he served as a Trustee from 1977 to 2010, and President of the Board from 1996 to 1999.

Like many who came to Greece originally because of their interest in Ancient Greece, Cotsen soon became fascinated by Greece throughout its history. It was natural, therefore, for him to become increasingly involved with the Gennadius Library, and when its separate Board of Overseers was established in 1995, he was the obvious choice to be its first Chairman, an office he held until 2010. Under his leadership, the Library’s restricted endowment grew from just under $2 million to $10.6 million, the Main Building and East Wing were renovated and expanded, and a new state-of-the-art lecture theatre, Cotsen Hall, was dedicated. He also established the Cotsen and Bikakis Fellowships, and he and his wife, Margit, have continued to support the renowned Gennadius Lecture Series, which is broadcast worldwide. It would not be an exaggeration to emphasize that Cotsen has been the greatest benefactor of the Gennadeion since Ioannes Gennadius himself, and that he has been responsible for many outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge of post-antique Greece. He has been recognized by the Greek government, which awarded him the Order of the Phoenix, for citizens who have excelled in the arts, literature, and science, and for foreigners who have helped raise Greece’s international prestige.

Lloyd Cotsen digging at Lerna

Cotsen’s philanthropy has extended to several important institutions in the U.S. In 2000, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), honored his longtime support of its Institute of Archaeology by renaming it the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. With his own personal collections, he established the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University, and the Neutrogena Wing/Cotsen Gallery at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is the Founding Chair of the Cotsen Foundation for the ART of TEACHING and the Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research. He has also served on the boards of The Ahmanson Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, the Music Center of Los Angeles County, Princeton University, and the Skirball Cultural Center.

Ernestine Elster of UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, in a contribution to Urkesh and the Hurrians: Studies in Honor of Lloyd Cotsen (1998), described her friend and colleague: “He had been in the trenches every summer alongside his academic colleagues…. It wasn’t simply an interest in archaeology, but passionate participation.” She observed, “This charming and energetic young fellow developed into a lifelong archaeologist whose connection to the discipline grew deeper year by year.”  Yet, she observes, he “has avoided honor and outward recognition, concentrating instead on continuous substantive involvement.”

Cotsen holds honorary doctorates from Pepperdine University and the University of Cincinnati; the UCLA Medal, given for contributions to the university and outstanding achievements in the community or an academic field; is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; and holds the American Institute of Archaeology’s Distinguished Service Award.