Professor Lefkowitz with colleagues and friends from “The Examined Life” program.
On Saturday, November 16, 2019, the Alpha Omega Council (AOC) presented Professor Mary Lefkowitz with the coveted Philhellene Award at their 2019 Honors Gala. The annual dinner event was held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Nearly 300 guests were in attendance.
The AOC celebrated Lefkowitz’s lifelong work as a classical scholar and her many contributions to the study of Greece. She has published numerous groundbreaking studies on ancient Greek literature and culture, including Women in Greek Myth, Heroines and Hysterics, The Lives of the Greek Poets, and Not Out of Africa. Lefkowitz is a Trustee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and Professor Emerita of Classical Studies at Wellesley College.
Alex Zagoreos, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American School, expressed, “We share in Mary’s joy this evening. The American School has been exceptionally fortunate to have Mary as a trustee. She is a learned scholar and a friend. The School has gained immensely from her knowledge, her insight, and her significant contribution to the study of Classical culture. She is an example and inspiration to us all.”
Nicholas Ypsilantis, President of the AOC, welcomed the audience, and Stratos Efthymiou, Consul General of Greece in Boston, introduced the honoree, congratulating her on behalf of the Greek State for her contribution to the support and promotion of Greek language, history, and culture through her fifty years of teaching and her rich literary output.
Lefkowitz accepted the award by thanking the AOC and acknowledging the influences of Barbara McCarthy, her professor at Wellesley, and the American School. McCarthy inspired her to see “the continuity between the Greece of today and the Greece of the past.” Lefkowitz reflected, “It is the same people, the same values. Things have changed in some ways. But, in other ways, it has stayed the same.” She continued, “Barbara first went to Greece to study at the ASCSA in Athens. That is where Americans who are archaeologists go to study the physical ancient world and get their training. I also learned there about the history of Greece up to the present day.” Looking out into the crowd with a smile, she observed, “Some of my friends from the American School are here today, and we still continue to do this work.” She concluded, “It has been my honor and pleasure to be part of Greece and to work with Greece all my life.”
Lefkowitz was joined by two other outstanding individuals being honored that evening for promoting Hellenic ideals. George Velhamos, Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Division Chief of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care at Massachusetts General Hospital, received the Lifetime Achievement Award; and Constantine Daskalakis, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was presented with the Emerging Leader Award.
The AOC is an organization dedicated to promoting Hellenism and is comprised of Americans of Hellenic ancestry in business, education, academia, medicine, law, politics, science, and other fields. Since its inception in 1976, the AOC has contributed over $2,000,000 to various philanthropic causes, not including the annual Peter Agris Memorial Journalism Scholarship Awards.