Greek immigrant pioneer, George Lucas Adamopoulos founded the Adamson University, one of the most prestigious universities in the Philippines that still a sets a standard for academic excellence in the country.
Adamopoulos, a renowned educator, industrialist, diplomat, and pioneer in the Philippines and overseas, was born in a small town near Delphi in 1903.
He grew up there into a driven young man with a relentless thirst for knowledge inspired by the teachings of Socrates and Plato. He lived the Greek virtue of philotimo, or love of honor, as seen in his deep sense of obligation, nobility, and moral pride.
After his secondary education, George Lucas initially enrolled on a two-year diploma course in telecommunications and postal services at Athens Technical College, and was one of the first enrollees of the Bachelor of Science degree during the inaugural year of the University of Athens School of Chemistry (1918).
The Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) interrupted his studies when he was called to serve in the Greek Army. He was assigned to the telecommunications and postal services section at the Ministry of Public Works from 1918 to 1924. He also continued his university education as a part-time student and graduated in 1924 with a degree in Chemistry.
Adamopoulos opened a college-level preparatory school after his graduation. He taught returning war veterans and prepared them for University Entrance Examinations which they could take after their tours of duty. Despite the success of his venture, he set out on a personal quest and left Greece for Australia in 1927.
During his voyage, he studied the English language and was speaking fluently upon his arrival in Sydney, Australia. He had also changed his surname to Adamson to adapt better to an English-speaking country.
In Sydney, Adamopoulos thrived, creating innovations such as a mineral table water, and a mineral batch liquid under the brand name Rayospa. He was also co-publisher and editor of the Greek-English newspaper Ethniko-Vima (The National Tribune), and technical consultant of the Australian Cotton Wool Products company.
Although his success was undeniable, his businesses were affected by the Great Depression which hit the world from 1929 to 1932. This prompted him to seek better opportunities in Japan.
Greek pioneer establishes University in the Philippines
On his way to the Orient in 1930, he decided to visit the Philippines, then under American colonial rule. He met a Greek national, John Talambiras, who had been living in the country for years. Talambiras led him into a venture with Ciriaco Chunaco and the Chunaco family, and the eventual establishment of the Chunaco-Adamson Chemical Company. The venture used Adamopoulos’s system for preventing wine from turning sour during its production.
Upon his return to Manila, he founded the Adamson Testing Laboratory, which provided valuable metal and ore testing services to various industries (fuel, textile, chemical, medical, soil, agriculture) in the Philippines.
Despite finding success in business, the fire for education remained, leading him to establish the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry(ASIC), the first of its kind in the country.
ASIC continued to attract students and apply academic and technical upgrades, evolving into the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry and Engineering (ASICE) in 1936, and Adamson University in 1941.
He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Athens in January 1938 in recognition of his achievement of founding the first school of Industrial Chemistry in the Philippines.
Aside from his duties as University President, he took an active part in nation-building, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of government and private organizations in the education, science and technology, mining, textile, pharmacology, and agriculture sectors.
He also organized the Philippine Chamber of Technology, a group of architects, engineers, chemists, and other technologists promoting technological advancement in the country.
He was also appointed as Greek Consul General, representing the Greek government at official and social functions, and assisting in the conclusion of an Air Agreement between the Philippines and Greece. He was the Chief Delegate and Signatory to the Treaty of Friendship between the two nations.
In 1964, the University became a private, Catholic, coeducational basic and higher education institution run by the Congregation of the Mission in Manila.
Despite Adamopoulos’s management transfer, he remained president until his retirement in April 1967. He remained on the University Board of Trustees and was given the title of President Emeritus.
He passed away in Greece in February 1974.
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