History of the Center

Professor Psomiades (Founder) presents an award to Georgia Belesis

Establishment and Objectives

The Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies was established at Queens College in 1974. Queens College is one of 11 senior Colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY). The impetus for it’s creation was provided by the growing interest of students in the language, history, institutions, and culture of the Greek people from the late Byzantine times to the present, and by the needs of the Greek American community. The moving force behind the creation of the Center has been Professor Harry J. Psomiades who was Director of the Center from its inception in 1974 until he retired in 2003.

Aided by the valuable assistance of Effie Lekas, the Center’s Assistant Director, Dr. Psomiades was able to institutionalize Greek Studies at Queens College. Accordingly, the primary objectives of the Center are:

  • To pursue education and scholarly research for the sake of knowledge and the truth as well as to promote and preserve Greek identity. The preservation of Greek identity is especially relevant to the Center’s objectives if one considers that Queens College is located in the middle of the largest Greek community in the United States , the Queens area of New York . This is the main reason why Queens College has by far the greatest number of students of Greek ancestry than any other American university, 1500 in all. The majority of these students are second generation Greeks while the rest come from Greece and Cyprus.
  • Closely linked to this objective is the aim of the Center to become an important educational and cultural resource for the Greek American community and the community at large, this, in the spirit of the cultural diversity of Queens College and through the understanding and respect of other peoples and cultures in this multi-ethnic and fascinating mosaic known as New York City. This is precisely the spirit of an enlightened Hellenism that is so well captured in Isokrates’ dictum that “Greeks are those who partake in our culture” which is also the logo and guiding principle of the Center.

It is this philosophy of an enlightened Hellenism that guides the Center in pursuing its more specific objectives. They include:

  • The initiation, support and coordination of teaching Byzantine and Modern Greek subjects at Queens College.
  • The promotion of Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic Scholarship and publications.
  • The sustained effort to integrate the needs and interests of the Greek American community of New York and beyond to the Center’s academic teaching and research.

Queens College takes great pride in the efforts and support, which have culminated in the creation of the Center, this most important and unique university endeavor outside of Greece for the promotion of Neo-Hellenic Studies that benefits the Greek American community and the community at large.


Main Activities

In order to fulfill its objectives the Center is engaged in the following activities:

  • Offers an inter-disciplinary academic program that leads to a BA in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, the only of its kind in the United States.
  • Organizes lectures, seminars, conferences and exhibits on the Greek American community as well as on the history, society, culture and politics of Greece and Cyprus.
  • Publishes the Journal of Modern Hellenism.
  • Has a book publication series.
  • Has a 6,000 volume specialized library collection that covers a variety of fields on Hellenism that include: The Byzantine period. The arts, language, literature, culture, history, society, economy and politics of Greece and Cyprus. Greek American themes such as literature, culture and politics. The Center’s library complements the Queen’s College library of …volumes that among others cover the Greek classics.
  • Offers Scholarships and Emergency Financial Assistance to students.