To be or not to be … rector of Athens University

Dressed with a red cape the white-haired actor stands alone on the stage of a small theater hall in Paris, France. The stage is located in the Greek House, a culture institute, the actor performs in front of no more than 55 people.The play “Mark Aurelius” is been written and directed by the actor himself.

The man taken by his passion for the theater is Theodosis Pelegrinis, the rector at the Athens University. One of the universities on strike since two and a half months due to enforced lay-offs in administration personnel. Lectors, teachers and administrative personnel are on strike, students cannot attend classes, take exams or even matriculate.

But the passionate actor seems apparently to believe, that these problems are nonfiction banalities when compared to his world of dramatic monologue and powerful gesture when he tries to communicate with his audience. Not his students.

Pelegrinis gave this exceptional performance in Paris last Sunday. When the Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos was reportedly trying to find a solution for the university and the personnel was announcing a further strike week.

On Monday, and after Greek newspapers and media reported about the Mark Aurelius performance, the Education Minister decided to refer Pelegrinis to Disciplinary Boards for misconduct.

“Unlike the other seven Rectors of universities affected by the measure of availability, the Rector of the National University of Athens Mr. Pelegrinis keeps the University closed due to inaction and inability to implement the decisions of the Senate,,” the Minister said in a statement.

The Minister’s decision is interpreted by Greek media as “paving the way for Pelegrinis’ suspension.”

I don’t agree with the measure of availability ordered by the Troika and applied by the Greek ministers for the sole reason that it causes people to lose their jobs and thus without previous evaluation of their work performance. However, I don’t agree  with Pelegrinis either, who prefers to fly to Paris and be Marc Aurelius than a responsible manager of a university on fire.

Between Education Minister and Pelegrinis, students are the hostages.

Students are more likely to miss this one semester. Especially for students from the country side and not wealthy families rent and living cost for six lost months is a huge burden.

A university teacher I know told me recently that it was a grave mistake to have universities closed. “They should be open and operate dismantled from administrative personnel, so that everyone would see what’s going on.”






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