Dean Named Inaugural Holder of Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair

The College of Law recently hosted a public lecture and private dinner with Dean Symeon C. Symeonides, the first holder of the Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair in Law. More than 120 members of the legal community gathered to hear Symeonides present “The Grand Dilemmas of Private International Law,” the inaugural Parks Distinguished Chair lecture.

Introducing Symeonides to the audience, University President M. Lee Pelton thanked Penelope Parks Knight and Philip H. Knight, who donated $5 million to the College of Law to endow the chair named for Mrs. Knight's father. “As exceptional as the Knights are, so is the first holder of this chair,” Pelton said. “It is an understatement to describe Symeonides as an outstanding scholar; he may in fact be the world’s top scholar in his field.”

Pelton officially presented the Parks Distinguished Chair to Symeonides following dinner that evening. In his acceptance speech, the dean recounted his unlikely journey from a small village in Cyprus with no electricity or running water to being named the Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair in Law. Along the way, he witnessed his father’s false imprisonment by the British government, farmed olives and tomatoes to help support his family, served in the Cypriot army during the 1974 Turkish invasion, earned four law degrees, and dedicated his life to academic excellence. Symeonides also reminisced about the many people who helped him along that journey. Quoting his favorite Southern playwright, Tennessee Williams, Symeonides said he “owes much of his success to the ‘kindness of strangers.’”

“Just as I was supported by countless selfless acts of others throughout my life, future generations of Willamette students will benefit from the generosity of Penny and Phil Knight,” he said. “I thank these two noble philanthropists from the bottom of my heart.”

Video of The Inaugural Alex L. Parks Distinguished Lecture and Dinner Presentation

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