The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies named Elaine Papoulias as its new Executive Director earlier this month.
According to a CES press release, Papoulias has long been affiliated with CES. She previously served as the Director of the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe at the Harvard Kennedy School for thirteen years. During her time at the Kennedy School, Papoulias co-chaired the Center’s Southeastern Europe Study Group.
She took over directorship of the Center from Trisha Craig, who served as the Executive Director of the CES for seven years and is now the Director of Wheelock College-Singapore.
Papoulias was chosen for the position after a series of interviews in the fall with former faculty directors and current faculty affiliates, as well as with some of the Center’s staff.
“What they were looking for is someone with strong leadership skills,” Papoulias said. “Also someone who really knew Europe well and someone who is comfortable innovating and motivating.”
Papoulias’s experience with Europe began as a child, living in Greece with her family, before she moved to the United States.
According to Craig, some of the Executive Director’s responsibilities include developing new programs, thinking of ways to support the graduate student affiliates, and running the Visiting Scholar’s program.
“I think Elaine will be fantastic,” Craig wrote in an email. “She has a stellar track record of running an academic program; she knows Harvard extremely well and has a lot of credibility among the faculty across various schools.”
Papoulias said that the Center tries to create a sense of community for undergraduate and graduate students, hosting a space where many students go to work on papers and dissertations relating to Europe.
“The shared sense of space gives the Center a unified camaraderie and sense of purpose,” Papoulias said. While Papoulias said she hopes that the Center will become even more open to the student and faculty community on campus duing her tenure, she specifically expressed interest in making the issues of Southeastern Europe a greater part of the Center’s initiatives.
“Coming from a background that comes from Southeastern Europe and understanding what a critical moment it is in the developing space for these communities, I’d like to see the countries of Southeastern Europe very firmly rooted in the initiatives of the center,” she said.
—Staff writer D. Simone Kovacs can be reached at email@example.com.