A Classical Approach

Illustration of USD donor Carol Vassiliadis


For the second time in only three short years, Carol Vassiliadis (pictured), who is parent to a USD alumna, has given the College of Arts and Sciences a generous contribution to continue the work of its Humanities Center. Her $1.5 million gift established and endowed the A. Vassiliadis Director of the Humanities Center; its inaugural director is philosophy professor Brian Clack, who was chosen by Dean Noelle Norton, PhD.

“As its founding director, Dr. Clack has done a remarkable job developing a thriving center for faculty, students and staff,” says Norton. “His work was appropriately recognized by offering him the first distinguished directorship.”

Norton notes that the success of the center wouldn’t have been possible without donor support. “The center is already a vital part of campus life, and this gift ensures that it will continue to operate in perpetuity.” She says that the positive impact of its programming on the student experience is ongoing.

“I had dinner with a parent who recounted that her son called and was overjoyed about two Humanities Center lectures he had attended during his first semester,” she recalls. “It’s delightful to know that even the newest members of our community find sparkling ideas in the center.”

  The Humanities Center — which is located in the heart of the USD campus in what is now known as Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall — has hosted hundreds of events since opening its doors. In addition to the gift, which was made in late 2018, Vassiliadis generously donated the founding $500,000 gift to open the center in 2016, demonstrating a true dedication for the humanities, according to Clack.

“It’s a total delight for all sorts of reasons,” he says. “It’s such an affirmation, a vote of confidence in what we’ve done. To have the work recognized by Carol with another donation is a way of saying, ‘Yeah, you got this right.’ Looking forward, those funds coming from the endowment can be used to extend our programming. It gives us an extraordinary permanence on campus.”

“I’m a great believer in a classical approach,” Vassiliadis says. “The humanities are the core of every fine university and round out the student experience, putting everything they’ve learned into perspective.”

Norton echoed that sentiment when the center first opened in 2016.

“An understanding of history, art, philosophy, literature and language is relevant for all citizens,” she said. “In order to make reasonable, ethical and informed life choices as individuals and members of local and global communities, we need to think broadly and inclusively about our place in the universe.” — Liz Harman

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