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Newhouse School receives $3 million from Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis for endowed chair in documentary photography
Newhouse School receives $3 million from Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis for endowed chair in documentary photographyMarch 23, 2006Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications announced it has received a $3 million grant from Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis, founders of the Alexia Foundation for World Peace and Cultural Understanding, to endow the Alexia Tsairis Chair in Documentary Photography. The announcement was made yesterday evening at a reception commemorating the foundation’s 15th anniversary, held at the United Nations. David Sutherland, associate professor of photojournalism in the Newhouse School, has been named inaugural chair.
“It is an honor to be selected for this chair,” says Sutherland. “This is an opportunity to do some really interesting things for photojournalism at Syracuse University, with the Alexia Foundation and in the photojournalism world as a whole.”
Peter and Aphrodite Thevos Tsairis founded the Alexia Foundation, a nonprofit organization, in 1991 to honor their daughter Alexia, a victim of the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. At the time of her death, Alexia was a junior and a promising photojournalism student at Newhouse. The foundation promotes the abiding belief in the capacity and responsibility of individuals to shape and advance peace and is dedicated to providing the means for scholars to do so.
“Endowing a photojournalism chair at Syracuse University, in memory of our daughter, is a way to honor a lost photographer’s dream while promoting our mission of supporting photographers doing important work to improve the human condition,” says Aphrodite Tsairis.
In addition to his regular teaching duties at Newhouse, Sutherland’s responsibilities as the Alexia Chair will be to teach, research and promote documentary photography and photojournalism. He will attend foundation board meetings as a permanent sittingboard member; oversee the foundation’s web site; chair the annual Alexia International Photo Competition; coordinate a speaker’s board of former student and professional winners from the competition for presentation at universities around the country and at events of professional organizations; and mentor student competition winners.
Held under the auspices of the Newhouse School, the annual Alexia Competition seeks photographers whose work gives insight into cultural differences and voices to victims of social injustice. Five undergraduate winners-Alexia Scholars–receive tuition and grants in the student competition and one professional photographer receives a cash grant. Since its inception, the competition has been referred to as “The Alexia” in photographic circles.
“We at the Newhouse School are delighted to be the home of this new chair that will further the good work established by the Alexia Competition,” says Newhouse Dean David Rubin. “Out of this tragic bombing some good things have come and this is one of them. We are very much indebted to Peter and Aphrodite for their unwavering support of this competition and the school.”
In addition to the chair, the foundation today opens “Eyes on the World,” a photo exhibition featuring works of past Alexia Competition winners, on display in the lobby of the U.N. building. The exhibition runs through mid-April. In coming years, the display will travel the globe, spreading the hope for cultural understanding as first envisioned by Alexia with her camera.
Concurrent with the exhibition is the foundation’s release of a commemorative book “Eyes on the World” (Cohber Press, 2006), highlighting selected photographs of past competition winners. The books will be available for purchase at the U.N. Bookstore. In another collaboration between the Newhouse School and the foundation, 14 seniors in Professor Sherri Taylor’s Graphic Arts Problems course worked on the book this semester, editing images and creating layouts.