UConn Welcomes Thomas Katsouleas – The Inauguration of the Sixteenth President

The small corner of Connecticut is far from the warm waters of Greece where Thomas Katsouleas spent his summers swimming, but the celebration of UConn’s sixteenth President did not lack in culture.

President Thomas Katsouleas speaks during his inauguration ceremony held at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 4, 2019. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The morning of Friday October 4 began with nine presentations by UConn Faculty representing the outstanding scholarship and global reach of the university. It was here that Ukranian born, Head of Strings Dr. Solomiya Ivakhiv welcomed the President in his native Greek language.

The community later welcomed Katsouleas in the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, among them members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and his own father who traveled from Greece.

The President recognized the value of his mentors that helped him achieve something so extraordinary.

“Of course I have to bring in another Greek at some point, right?” Katsouleas joked. “To paraphrase Alexander the Great, to my parents I owe my life. To my teacher I owe my love of life.”

Katsouleas also thanked his first Ph.D. student Shi Xiong Peter Lai, who traveled from Taiwan to attend the inauguration.

Emcee Andrea Dennis-LaVigne, Vice Chair of the UConn Board of Trustees, taught the crowd their own Greek word, and together everyone exclaimed “Axios,” meaning “worthy” to describe the new president.

“Since Andrea Lavine spoke to me in Greek, and the Greek community is well represented here including the Archbishop Father Alex Karloutsos from New York, and my own father who came from Greece for this event, I’m going to call this my big fat Greek inauguration,” Katsouleas laughed.

The festivities continued outside on the Student Union Mall where members from the Hellenic Student Association Paideia dressed in traditional Greek clothing and welcomed guests into a tent full of Greek food, with a live band.

UConn’s sixteenth President concluded his evening by dancing with the students.


Read more about the inauguration and view the video by visiting UConn Today