The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is pleased to announce a gift from Julie Herzig Desnick and Robert J. (Bob) Desnick in support of the renovated Student Center. The couple named the Herzig-Desnick Room, a bedroom located on the first floor of the Annex. Over the years, the Desnicks have given generously to support the American School’s work and mission.

Julie Herzig-Desnick and Robert Desnick

Robert Desnick and Julie Herzig Desnick

Julie Herzig Desnick shared her memories as a Summer Session student staying at the American School:
For almost a century, Loring Hall has served as the base and essential residence for graduate students, postdocs, and other academics involved in the American School’s exceptional educational programs and resources. As a member of the 2011 Summer Session, I lived in Loring Hall. During that time, it kept welcoming me back, a travel-weary student from the hinterlands, after intensive weeks of exploring Greece under the guidance of the outstanding Professors Mark and Mary Lou Munn. There was something wonderful about returning each time to the comfortable surroundings of Loring Hall with its well-worn, overstuffed furniture, communal dining tables, and essential laundry facilities. You could almost feel the presence of past generations of students and professors at ouzo hour on the East Terrace, exchanging news, views, and laughs.

Julie Herzig-Desnick in Summer Session

Julie Herzig Desnick in front of the Olympieion in Athens during the American School’s 2011 Summer Session

Loring Hall was a place to get a good night’s sleep and recharge. I was one of the lucky ones who had one of two single rooms with a shared bath on the first floor of the Annex (Bob and I are delighted to support the renovation of this very room!). Due to the lack of air conditioning, the fan worked overtime and the window was always open, leading me to sleep in fear of mosquitoes. The accommodations harkened back to my childhood. Growing up in a gracious home of similar vintage to Loring Hall, I was well acquainted with its limitations. Somehow, I survived both but must admit having air conditioning, a modern bathroom, and good lighting make for a much more comfortable and productive existence. After the renovation, Loring Hall should become an even more welcoming place for the resident scholars who stay there during their time at the American School. It is deeply gratifying to know that this venerable old building is being preserved as it is renovated to 21st-century standards. This is why we chose to contribute to this important project, which will ensure the well-being of future generations of archaeologists.

George Orfanakos, Executive Director of the American School, offered his gratitude to the Desnicks for supporting the Student Center Campaign: “Since Loring Hall opened its doors in 1929, thousands of students and scholars have called it home. It is truly wonderful and characteristic of their generous spirit that Julie and Bob have invested in the renovation of Loring Hall to benefit future generations of students and scholars. I thank them for their leadership and commitment to the School.”


Julie Herzig Desnick is a Registered Architect who holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Mount Holyoke College, a B.Arch. from Pratt Institute, and an M.A. in the History of Art and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. She is a Trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), where she endowed a fund for Archaeological Field Surveys. She is an alumna of the American School’s Summer Program and also participated in the IFA excavations at Selinunte for several seasons.

Robert Desnick, Ph.D., M.D., has been a Trustee of the American School since 2016. He is Dean for Genetics and Genomic Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and Professor and Chairman Emeritus of its Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences. He has published 600 peer-reviewed articles and over 245 invited chapters and reviews. He is a member of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Last year, he presented a platform paper at the AIA Annual Meeting on the bioarchaeology and molecular genetics of an ancient dwarf from the archaic necropolis of Himera.


The Student Center Campaign was launched in October 2018 to raise funds for renovating and expanding the three aging buildings that serve as the intellectual and residential heart of the American School: Loring Hall, the Annex, and West House. This transformative project will increase housing capacity, reduce energy consumption, add state-of-the-art features and technology, and bring the buildings up to the latest technical standards—all while preserving the complex’s historical appearance. The Student Center will remain the place where members of the community gather for meals, tea, ouzo hour, holiday celebrations, and lectures—a source of lifelong professional and personal relationships that characterize the collegial and intellectually vibrant atmosphere of the School. This modernized setting will enhance that experience and will meet the needs of the School community well into the future.


The goal of the Student Center campaign is $9.4 million, inclusive of a maintenance endowment. Thanks to generous supporters like the Julie Herzig Desnick and Robert Desnick, $7.7 million has been raised to date. The new Student Center is expected to open in June 2021.

To learn more about how you can support this historic initiative, please contact Nancy Savaides, Director of Stewardship and Engagement, at or 609-454-6810. Naming opportunities for a variety of spaces in the Student Center are still available. Donors can choose from a wide range of gift levels to name a room or area in honor of themselves, an American School scholar, or a family member, friend, or group. Please click the links below to view the nameable spaces and options that remain:

Make a Gift


Click this link to view more photographs of the work in progress.