Anatolia: The Third Century Campaign: Why Give?
1. Giving to Anatolia helps build a great and unique educational institution.
Belief in the power of education brought Anatolia into existence in Asia Minor in 1886. When the campus had to be abandoned in 1921, the same belief built a new campus in Thessaloniki. Anatolia of the 21st century comprises the foremost high school, English-speaking college, and elementary school in a city of major geopolitical and economic importance to Greece and Southeastern Europe. Anatolia has transformed thousands of lives for more than 125 years. Its graduates constitute a strong positive force for the future of this region.
Anatolia begins the 21st century as an integrated, international educational center for more than 2000 students at four levels: primary school (Anatolia Elementary School); junior and senior high school (Anatolia College); the undergraduate level (the U.S.-accredited American College of Thessaloniki, or ACT); and lastly, the graduate school (the ACT MBA program).
Anatolia was built – twice – largely through the generosity of individuals who believed strongly in Anatolia’s educational mission. Some were Americans of Greek descent; many were not. They believed, and they gave, and the result has been a school which has transformed thousands of lives for more than 100 years.
Anatolia is an American presence in Greece that is welcomed by Greek parents and students and by the Greek government itself. Support of a distinguished American school in Greece is a way to honor and promote the democratic ideals the two countries share. Anatolia brings a steady, positive, non-political influence to bear on Greek society by helping educate the individuals who will shape its future, many as leaders in their fields.
The great Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos was one of those responsible for the school’s relocating to Thessaloniki after the Asia Minor Catastrophe. The Greek government recently honored the Chairman of Anatolia’s Board of Trustees, George Bissell, by awarding him the Silver Cross of the Phoenix; he was only one of several non-Greeks, and the only American, to be so honored this year.
Political relations between Greece and America, as between most countries, blow hot and cold. But Americans occasionally hear about Greek anti-Americanism. They should remember that our alumni, who have learned excellent English and have had close contact with American teachers, are immensely proud to be graduates of Anatolia College and the American College of Thessaloniki.
From its earliest days, Anatolia has enabled students without economic means to get a first-rate education. About 10% of the student body at the junior and senior high school receive full, six-year scholarships awarded on the basis of financial need and through a process of competitive examinations held every year in cities and towns throughout Greece. These outstanding students, many of whom board at the Anatolia campus, are supported entirely by donations and charitable endowments.
The scholarship program at The American College of Thessaloniki is also growing. The best and the brightest students from the former Communist countries to Anatolia’s north increasingly seek out American education at ACT. Many need financial help, however, in order to attend. Scholarships are also needed for American students to experience Hellenic culture and history firsthand through a study-abroad semester at ACT.
Throughout its history, Anatolia has stood by those in difficult circumstances: the Armenians and Greeks of Asia Minor, the refugees who flooded Thessaloniki in the 1920s, poor students from Greek villages after the Second World War, 26 students from Cyprus following the Turkish invasion of that country in 1974, and in recent years students from ethnic minorities and those whose families have come to Greece since the break-up of the former Soviet Union. Anatolia has been able to help these students because donors have generously supported Anatolia’s scholarship program.
Anatolia depends on charitable gifts to maintain its margin of excellence. Unlike most private schools and colleges in Greece, Anatolia is a non-profit institution. Every dollar and euro it takes in is applied to its educational mission. Its superb libraries – including the Bissell Library at ACT, one of the most advanced in southeastern Europe – its first-rate faculty, extracurricular opportunities, advising programs, and extensive physical infrastructure, with science and computer labs and facilities like the Stavros S. Niarchos Technology Center: Anatolia’s distinction is made possible only through the annual and capital giving of its supporters, both Greek and American.
American donors to Greek organizations who may have been frustrated by a lack of transparency may rest assured that Anatolia meets American standards of financial accountability in all aspects of its operations, insured by annual auditing of its books by KPMG and careful stewardship of all gifts and endowments by its Board of Trustees.
Anatolia is a beacon of American liberal arts values in a country where higher education is dominated by the state. It offers Greece an alternative educational model, one whose responsiveness to student needs enables its graduates to compete effectively with their counterparts in the rapidly evolving European Union and the global economy.
For 125 years Anatolia’s supporters have enabled it to grow and flourish despite, at times, tremendous adversity. Being a supporter of Anatolia is to join a cause and to help it to triumph: to participate in the history of modern Greece and to help shape its future.