News release

Professor André Gerolymatos, pioneer in Hellenic Studies at SFU, passes away at 67

May 30, 2019

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our long-time director and friend, Professor André Gerolymatos.

Dr. Gerolymatos studied Classics at Loyola College (Dipl.), Concordia University (BA), and McGill University (MA), before switching to History for his PhD, also at McGill, where he researched British Intelligence and Guerilla Warfare Operations during the Second World War in Greece (1941-1944). He taught at Dawson College and McGill University before joining the History Department at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 1996 as the inaugural holder of the Hellenic Canadian Congress of British Columbia Chair in Hellenic Studies.

From the very beginning of his appointment, Dr. Gerolymatos strove to secure more resources with which to expand the teaching and learning of Greek language, history, and culture at SFU. Over the 23 years of his active career at our institution he raised millions of dollars in gifts and grants from governments, NGOs, and individuals who embraced his vision of a vibrant and engaged Hellenic Studies presence at the university and in the broader community. One of his most valued partners has been the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), with whose support, Dr. Gerolymatos launched the world’s first online language learning platform designed specifically for the Modern Greek Language. The technology developed during this project has continued to evolve and has been used to support Arabic, French, and Italian, as well as thirteen critically endangered First Nations languages in Western Canada in partnership with the First Nations Language Centre at SFU. The trust that Dr. Gerolymatos built with the SNF eventually led to a $7 million endowment and the creation of the thriving SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies at SFU.

Even as he sought to lay the foundations for a lasting Hellenic Studies presence at the university, Dr. Gerolymatos always gave freely of his time and was often in the community giving talks on his research to lay and academic audiences. His expertise in terrorism and international relations found him in constant demand from the local, national, and international media, especially following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York city.

His expertise stemmed from an active research programme that he maintained throughout his career. Dr. Gerolymatos returned again and again to the trauma inflicted on Greece in the second world war and the civil war that followed, a topic that remains deeply divisive in that country. One of his most recent books, An International Civil War: Greece, 1943-1949, published by Yale University Press was remarkable for the balanced, unbiased approach it took to the conflict, a rarity for the topic. The book was especially successful in Greece, where it was translated and released by Dioptra Press.

Dr. Gerolymatos’ many honours and awards include HRH Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Service to Canada and the Officer (Gold Cross) of the Order of the Phoenix in recognition for contributions to Greek culture.

The faculty, staff, and students of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies and the Hellenic Studies Program at SFU will miss him greatly.

A prayer will be held on Wednesday, June 5th 2019 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the St. Georges Greek Orthodox (4500 Arbutus St, Vancouver, BC). A funeral service will be held on Thursday, June 6th 2019 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the same location. A burial will be held on Thursday, June 6th 2019 from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM at the Ocean View Burial Park (4000 Imperial St, Burnaby, BC).