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UTS Hellenic makes Dr Alfred Vincent and A/Prof Nick Doumanis inaugural life members

The 2022 UTS Hellenic Committee nominated Dr Alfred Vincent and Associate Professor Nick Doumanis as Life Members of the society in its final act at this year’s Annual General Meeting, thus thanking them for their contributions to the society during the course of the year. The two academics were voted in unanimously on Monday 28 November at UTS Hellenic’s 2022 AGM, becoming the inaugural Life Members after the initiative was introduced into a revamped, updated constitution.

Associate Professor Doumanis, of the University of New South Wales. presented a talk on the 100-year Anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe in May. Dr Vincent, who led the Department of Modern Greek at the University of Sydney before retirement, explored the history of Mediterranean Cuisine at a UTS Hellenic event in August. Both events highlighted the increased emphasis on Modern Greek culture which characterised the society’s direction in 2022.

Both academics are well-known in Sydney’s Greek community, with Dr Vincent teaching Modern Greek at the University of Sydney for 25 years and continuing to support Modern Greek culture in his retirement. In his acceptance speech, he reflected on the impact the community has had on him. “Living in Sydney as I have for over 50 years, meeting the Greek community has been my university,” Dr Vincent said.

He further emphasised the abundance of activities that the community currently undertakes including the Greek Festival of Sydney and other celebrations of the arts, encouraging the students to get involved. “You will contribute to something which I think is important: to preserving Greek culture in Australia and in helping to make Australia what it could be. A pluralistic, genuinely multicultural and culturally rich society.”

Dr Vincent addressed the decline of the Modern Greek language in Australia, encouraging the youth to consider learning a language not as a burden but rather an adventure with something new to learn all the time. Ever the teacher, he expressed that “One of my mottos with language is ‘use it or lose it’. But even losing it need not be permanent. There are always chances to pick it up again. So that’s my hope for everyone here.”

He offered his best wishes to the very students who voted unanimously to make him an inaugural life member of their society, applauding their enthusiasm. “And my hope is ‘long may it continue’. May it give you much joy, much knowledge and much honour in our society.” Of course, he didn’t neglect to ensure some Modern Greek was spoken at the AGM wishing the students all the best in their activities: “Σας εύχομαι, λοιπόν, σε όλες τις δραστηριότητές σας καλή επιτυχία και χαρά.”

Associate Professor Nick Doumanis has likewise been active in the community, specialising in History at the University of NSW. He expressed sincere gratitude upon his nomination as a Life Member by UTS Hellenic, though also offering some words of honest reflection on tertiary education. “Thank you so much for the invitation. I was so touched,” said A/Prof Doumanis. “I feel a bit depressed about the state of our education system at the moment, particularly at university level, because the powers that be are attacking the humanities. Each year, I see languages disappearing and other languages, once well-established, being reduced to first-year courses.”

Nevertheless, he acknowledged the genuine attempt the young people have made to contribute to Modern Greek culture at universities. “One hope I have is seeing the enterprise that the UTS Hellenic Society is showing. I commend you,” A/Prof Doumanis said. “I’m actually proud to be associated with the society and very honoured to be asked to become a Life Member…I am honoured to be asked and honoured to be in the company of Dr Alfred Vincent as well.” Associate Professor Doumanis threw his support behind the initiatives of the youth.

“I would love to help and participate in your activities, even if it is from overseas, into the future”, he declared, as he will be soon commencing in a position in North America. “At UNSW, I have undertaken an outreach program for the Greek community with the State Library and I have gotten to know a lot more people in the community who make an effort to promote things Greek and my respect for them has risen enormously.”

“I’m particularly hopeful because of the fact that so many young people, like those in the audience today, who are making an effort and promoting and participating in things Greek.” The gesture of gratitude was due to the introduction of a new constitutional clause to provide honorary Life Membership to individuals who have “significantly contributed to the society”.

Two constitutional votes were passed unanimously to add their names into the society’s revamped governing document. UTS Hellenic 2022 President, Dimitri Kallos, expressed his deep appreciation for both intellectuals. “Both Dr Vincent and Associate Professor Doumanis were invaluable in the cultural direction of the society this year. I am eternally grateful for their significant contributions and I can think of no more worthy individuals to be our inaugural Life Members,” the outgoing President said.

Following the passed constitutional vote to elect the life members and the remaining AGM items, the 2022 Committee formally stood down to mark the end of their term. Elections were then held to elect the 2023 Committee, with expansion planned in the new year to conduct elections for First Year Representatives which will take place in March 2023, according to the new constitution.

Outgoing 2022 Committee: President: Dimitri Kallos, Vice-President: Yanni Marathocabitis, Treasurer: Constance Botsikas, Secretary: Antonia Moulos, Social Media and Events Coordinator: Karly Vouros, Cultural Officer: Katerina Andrews, General Committee: Peter Litsas, Ellen Kalantzis, Despina Tsolakis, Nadine Zeritis, Jacquelene Tzovolos, First Year Representatives: Olivia Cambouris, Philippa Botsikas, Nathan Politis, Matthew Politis

Incoming 2023 Committee: President: Despina Tsolakis, Vice-President: Antonia Moulos, Treasurer: Olivia Cambouris, Secretary: Matthew Politis, Social Media and Events Coordinator: Victoria Demos, Cultural Officer: Nadine Zeritis, General Committee: Nathan Politis, Athanasia Stratikopoulos, Elly Vazouras, George Pachos