After receiving word that the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) will donate funds and help in increasing student enrollment, La Trobe University reversed its recent decision to cease offering the Greek language in its curriculum.
The language will be taught for another three years and reviewed after the first semester census in 2023 to see if the targets for enrollment have been met. If not, the language may be dropped at that time for good.
A change proposal had been shared with the public on November 11, partly as a result of the pandemic, which has seen massive changes wrought in the university system. Low enrollment in the Greek language program had always been an issue, and the pandemic had brought the chronic problems to a head, culminating in a meeting with key stakeholders in the University’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS).
The program was then slated for being phased out as of 2022.
However, as a result of meetings between La Trobe Vice-chancellor Professor John Dewar, other University officials and Bill Papastergiadis, the president of the Greek Community of Melbourne, the GCM has decided to commit $192,000 over the course of the next three years to keep the program functioning.
In addition, the GCM will offer proactive assistance to help ensure that the program reaches its enrollment targets after 2023.
Vice Chancellor Dewar stated during the announcement that he looked forward to this new collaboration with the GCM to find a new way toward a more solid future for the Greek language program.
“La Trobe University plays a significant role in providing quality higher education to communities in Melbourne’s north, including the Greek community,” he stated.
“It has been pleasing to see such a strong and passionate response to the proposed closure of our Greek language program and that senior leaders from the Greek Community have come to the table to offer positive solutions – both financial and to assist with enrollments — to ensure the program can survive and, hopefully, flourish in the future,” Dewar added.
Papastergiadis stated during the announcement of the resumption of the study program “As the sole provider of a major in Greek Studies in Victoria, it is heartening that an agreement has been reached to save this program.
“The Greek language is a critical part of our culture. It plays a vital role in strengthening the multicultural and cosmopolitan fabric of Victoria. A broad coalition of interested persons and groups worked tirelessly with the University to ensure that the Program not only survives but thrives.
“I am excited about what the future will bring for our Greek language program. I thank the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University for being open and honest in their dialogue and workings during this process. Today is an important moment for our community.”
Fr. Evmenios Vasilopoulos, the Archiepiscopal Vicar for the District of Northcote Victoria, stated that “The continuation of the La Trobe University Modern Greek program evidences the sensitivity of La Trobe University towards the broader multicultural community and its nuanced appreciation of language learning, as intrinsic to the promotion and enhancement of cultural diversity within our polyglot state.
“The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and its primate, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios eagerly look forward to an enduring partnership with the University and other key community stakeholders so as to maintain and advance the study of a linguistic corpus that has exercised such a profound influence on the political, cultural and religious development of world civilization.”
The new agreement was in part made possible by a bequest from Anastassios Vassilogiannis, which will support a portion of the costs of the Greek language program at La Trobe.
Of course, the University continues to house the important Dardalis Archives of the Hellenic Diaspora at the institution’s Library. La Trobe had always intended to remain committed to providing teaching and research related to Greek culture, history and heritage to its students.