Community Comes Out to Support the School
On Thursday, May 9, 2019, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and Gennadius Library hosted their fourth annual Gala at the Capitale in New York City. More than 380 guests gathered at one of Manhattan’s most spectacular venues and helped set Gala records for attendance and auction purchases. Attendees were treated to an evening of inspiration, education, and celebration that supported the American School’s 138-year mission to preserve, promote, and protect all aspects of Greek culture from antiquity to the present. All proceeds from the Gala will directly benefit the academic, archaeological exploration, outreach, publications, and research programs of the American School.
Corinth Excavations Celebrated and Hetty Goldman Remembered
With its iconic Corinthian columns and vaulted ceilings, the Capitale’s Grand Ballroom was the perfect backdrop for the themes of this year’s event: commemorating the historic Corinth Excavations and remembering pioneering archaeologist Hetty Goldman. The Gala featured an inspiring program of acknowledgments, speeches, special guests, video premieres, cuisine, and culture. A spirit of giving spread throughout the venue as the Hellenic world’s most distinguished and influential archaeologists, community leaders, diplomats, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, philhellenes, and scholars joined the American School in celebrating Greece’s rich heritage.
Highlights From the Gala
The evening began in the Capitale’s elegant Beaux Arts foyer with a cocktail reception and silent auction featuring items donated by generous supporters of the School, including renowned Greek artists, artisans, proprietors, and performers. Attendees helped set a Gala record for auction proceeds by purchasing items ranging from grand getaways in Greece to unique jewelry and fine art to gourmet experiences. Guests were then ushered into the Grand Ballroom for the program and dinner portion of the event. They were greeted by beautiful Greek music performed by Grigoris Maninakis and his Microcosmos Ensemble.
George Orfanakos, Executive Director of the American School and Master of Ceremonies, opened the program by extending a warm welcome to the audience. "All of you make this evening a success and the funds we raise will immediately enable the American School to preserve, promote, and protect Greece's illustrious past," Mr. Orfanakos said. He also thanked the distinguished guests in attendance and expressed his deep gratitude to the Gala Co-Chairs—Jacqueline McCabe, Robert Pounder, Judith Ogden Thomson, and Kathryn Yatrakis—and to the Gala Committee, table sponsors, and silent auction donors for their extraordinary contributions and effort.
Alexander Zagoreos, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American School, followed by recognizing the School’s Trustees, Overseers, Emeriti, and Managing Committee. "The success of the American School over the past 138 years is a testament to the commitment and generosity of many dedicated individuals—those who came before us and those who are currently serving," Mr. Zagoreos commented. He then introduced two former recipients of American School prizes: Vasilis Tsamis from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (winner of the 2018 Gennadius Prize) and Malcolm Wiener, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the American School (winner of the 2017 Athens Prize). Mr. Zagoreos also thanked the National Hellenic Society for their strong partnership throughout the year. The two organizations have recently joined forces as stewards of Greek culture, working together to perpetuate and celebrate the Hellenic heritage.
Remembering Hetty Goldman
Professor Jenifer Neils, Director of the American School, was called to the stage and acknowledged several of her colleagues who had traveled from Greece for the event: Dr. Maria Georgopoulou, Director of the Gennadius Library; Dr. Sylvian Fachard, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Classical Studies; and Pantelis Panos, General Manager of the School. "Besides the amazing staff in Princeton and Athens, we also have some of the best and brightest students in the world immersing themselves in the study of Greece from antiquity to the present. One of the remarkable features of the School and one we celebrate tonight is the often overlooked impact of its female members," Professor Neils praised. She subsequently paid tribute to the legendary archaeologist Hetty Goldman, who was instrumental in opening the doors to the field of archaeology for women and inspired countless others who would follow in her footsteps—including many students from her alma mater, Bryn Mawr College. In 1910, Goldman became the first woman to hold the Charles Eliot Norton Fellowship to study at the American School.
Professor Neils introduced First Among Equals, a video honoring Goldman’s life, legacy, and achievements. The film was narrated by Academy Award-winning Greek-American actor Olympia Dukakis and made possible by the generous support of Charles Yoder.
Following the premiere, Professor Neils invited to podium the grandniece of Hetty Goldman, archaeologist Megan Goldman-Petri. Goldman-Petri delivered a moving speech praising her daring and trailblazing great aunt, and acknowledged all of the women students, scholars, and excavators in the audience.
William Loomis, President of the Board of Trustees of the American School, spoke about the Student Center expansion and renovation campaign and thanked the major benefactors of the project. Mr. Loomis conveyed the urgency of the appeal and encouraged guests to support the residence hall that Hetty Goldman herself helped to build nearly one hundred years ago.
Professor Kathleen Lynch, Vice Chair of the Managing Committee of the American School, expressed deep gratitude to Ambassador Anastasios Kriekoukis for his tireless efforts as Chairman of the Auction Committee.
Celebrating the Corinth Excavations
Professor Mark Lawall, Chairman of the Managing Committee of the American School, took to the stage and introduced Professor Jack Davis, former Director of the American School and current co-director of the School’s affiliated excavation at the Palace of Nestor in Pylos. Professor Davis was congratulated for being selected to receive the 2020 Archaeological Institute of America’s Gold Medal for Archaeological Achievement—the same award given to Hetty Goldman in 1966. "Jack is the 36th American School scholar—out of a total of 60 Gold Medal recipients—to receive this very prestigious award," Professor Lawall remarked.
Professor Davis began the celebration of the Corinth Excavations by delivering a riveting history of the American School’s unprecedented work at the landmark site. In 1896, the School embarked on the daunting task of exploring an entire ancient city, something no other foreign school in Greece had ever undertaken. Professor Davis spoke about the School’s great past discoveries and accomplishments, including the building of the Museum of Ancient Corinth, but also highlighted the current development of educational programs for primary and secondary school students—the next generation of archaeologists and scholars. The second video premiere of the night, Twelve Decades of Discovery, chronicled the American School’s long and impressive history of excavations at Corinth and was also made possible by the generosity of Charles Yoder.
The evening’s final speaker, Professor Christopher Pfaff, Director of the Corinth Excavations, lauded his predecessors—Charles Williams and Nancy Bookidis, as well as his associate director, Ioulia Tzonou—for their enormous contributions and dedication to the School. Professor Pfaff spoke about the importance of reaching out to younger audiences and using cutting-edge technologies to enhance our knowledge of the past. Guests were encouraged to visit Greece to experience the wonder of the sites firsthand. To conclude the program, all those who had excavated in Ancient Corinth were invited on stage to be acknowledged.
A full gallery of photos from the Gala can be viewed by following this link.
Save the Date
Next year’s Gala will be held on Thursday, May 14, 2020 at Gotham Hall in New York City. Details will be announced soon.
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The American School, together with the National Hellenic Society, proudly hosted two special pre-Gala events to provide additional opportunities for guests to learn about Greek culture.
On the eve of the Gala, a sold-out screening of the star-studded feature film, Cliffs of Freedom, was held at the AMC Theatre in Manhattan. Dr. Maria Georgopoulou, Director of the Gennadius Library, introduced the film directed by Van Ling, and written and co-produced by Greek-American author Marianne Metropoulos.
On the afternoon of the Gala, the American School arranged for an exclusive Metropolitan Museum of Art tour for National Hellenic Society members. Curator Joan Mertens led a private sneak peek of the Watercolors of the Acropolis: Émile Gilliéron in Athens exhibition—before it was open to the public.