It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Jean Polopolus. Jean was very involved in the Greek community and hosted numberless events and fundraisers to support the Center for Greek Studies at the University of Florida. She was the wife of CGS co-founder and former co-director, Leonidas Polopolus.

A service in her memory will be held at the Milam Funeral Home Chapel at 311 S. Main St., Gainesville, FL 32601 on Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

Classical Studies and Greek Studies students had an immersive three-day course on Greek life volunteering at the 2018 Gainesville Greek Festival. Held on the grounds of the Saint Elizabeth Greek Orthodox Church on February 2-4, the festival was a celebration of Greek and Eastern European cultures sharing the Orthodox faith. View the festival flyer.

It is with great sadness that the faculty, students, and staff of the Center for Greek Studies at the University of Florida announce the passing of our dear friend, mentor, and founding father Leonidas C. Polopulos.


Leo, as he was known to all of us who had the privilege to be his colleagues, retired from the University of Florida in 1996, after a long and distinguished career as a Professor of Food and Resource Economics. An internationally recognized specialist in the fields of agricultural labor economics and agricultural marketing, Leo was also an indefatigable administrator who held a variety of important posts at all university levels, worked as a consultant to the US Government under the Kennedy and Nixon administrations, and served as the director of professional organizations and editor of scholarly journals nationwide. First and foremost, Leo was a passionate advocate of Greek culture and the traditions of his Greek forefathers. From his Greek heritage he derived his love for farming, a natural talent for music, and a seemingly endless creativity. A relative of the famous Greek poet and song writer Nikos Gatzos, in 1975 Leo founded the Embros Orchestra, a musical ensemble that for decades has brought traditional Greek music to audiences all over Florida. In 1980, he co-founded with K. Hartigan the Center for Greek Studies at the University of Florida, an organization devoted to the study and promotion of Greece that each year funds cultural activities and dozens of scholarships for students interested in Hellenic studies. We owe it to Leo if today our undergraduates have such a rich palette of Greek courses to choose from, or if they can travel to Greece to get a first-hand experience of this country’s millennia-long culture.


The Center for Greek Studies, its programs, and its scholarships are all things that would not have been possible without Leo’s vision, creativity, and energy. It is difficult to imagine a Center for Greek Studies without him. As we continue his work, we like to remember him still at the lectern, lecturing hundreds of wide-eyed UF students on the Greek economy with his historic 3-D projector from the 1970’s, or on a brightly lit stage, accompanying Greek dances to the sound of his klarino. And in remembering him, we cannot help but think of that poem by Nikos Gatzos that begins:


At the fire in your eye, God will have smiled

(Πάρε το δακτυλίδι σου, 1994)



In honor of Karelisa Hartigan and Leonidas Polopolus a public lecture, “Some Remarks on the Byzantine Reconquista of Greece” by Florin Curta, Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology, was held in the Keene Faculty Center on February 15, 2014100_3537.

Mr. Nicholas C. Kontaridis, for seventeen years beloved teacher of Modern Greek Language and Literature, Modern Greek History, and “Greece Yesterday and Today,” has been selected by the Committee on Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Alumnus Awards, and Memorials, to receive one of the most prestigious awards presented by the University of Florida: The Distinguished Achievement Award, in recognition of his exceptional achievements and demonstrated service and leadership that merit the special recognition of the university. Congratulations to Nick!

We announce with sadness the passing of Professor David Young, a great Philhellene, author of several important books on Pindar, the history of the Olympic games, and the revival of the Modern Olympics. He has been honored by the President of the Hellenic Republic, the International Olympic Committee and many prestigious organizations around the world.

David Young, Pindarist and Olympic Historian

David C. Young, Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Florida, died February 5, 2013. An internationally recognized scholar of Pindar and a pioneer in the history of the Olympic games, David was recognized with a Lifetime Distinguished Scholar Award in 2007 by the International Society of Olympic Historians. He taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara (1963-1989) and was a visiting professor at Stanford (1974, 1976) and the University of Michigan (1973, 1983) before joining the faculty at the University of Florida where he was a beloved teacher who inspired students for twenty years.

The Department of Classics hosted a memorial service in Gainesville, FL on August 24, 2013. Contributions can be made to the David C. Young Memorial by check made payable to UF Foundation with “David C. Young Memorial, Fund 018543” referenced in the memo (sent to our office at PO Box 117300, Gainesville, FL 32611). Online contributions can also be made at

Memorial service slideshow


On October 7, 2011, the Center for Greek Studies bestowed a Distinguished Public Service Award on Congressman Gus Bilirakis. The Center congratulates Mr. Bilirakis on his many accomplishments in public service as a former elected member of the Florida State Legislature and now a duly elected member of the United States Congress. Mr. Bilirakis is also an alumnus of the University of Florida, a former student of Greek Studies, and a former President of the university’s Greek-American Student Association.


Picture caption: Congressman Gus Bilirakis (right) with Mr. Nikos Kontaridis (left), Sophia Kontaridis, and Taj Azarian. Photo credit: William Caras. (Click on Thumbnail to enlarge).