Nicholas Karakas

Nicholas Karakas, a member of Leadership 100, donated $1.5 million to The University of Missouri St. Louis to endow a chair in Byzantine and Orthodox Studies. UMSL Chancellor Tom George made the announcement during his annual report to the community at America's Center. “This generous gift from Mr. Karakas will allow the university to offer a comprehensive study of the history, culture, politics and individuals of the Byzantine Empire, one of the most powerful economic and cultural forces in Europe,” George said.

Karakas offered the gift, as well as a previous gift from the Karakas Family Foundation, to honor his parents, Achilles and Malamati Karakas. The first gift, presented in 1996, endowed a chair of Greek Studies and established the Greek Studies program at the university.

Over the past 15 years, Karakas’ contributions have included Greek language scholarships and the establishment of the Nicholas and Theodora Matsakis Hellenic Cultural Center and the Sam Nakis Memorial Lecture in Greek Studies.

In addition, Karakas and his family have supported the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center, the university’s music programs and The Center for the Humanities at UMSL.

“The idea of establishing the chair of Byzantine and Orthodox studies was to expose this era of world history, a span of some 1,000 years, providing an inside view of the society and culture during that period of state and church.” said Karakas.

Karakas has been an active member of numerous advisory boards at the university, and received the chancellor’s medallion for his leadership and dedication to the principles of higher education.

 Besides his longtime membership in Leadership 100, Karakas served on the Archdiocesan Council, the highest governing administrative body of the Orthodox Church.

Karakas was chair of his family’s business, Marcus Distributors, which distributed candy, tobacco and grocery products. He served as president and board member of the Missouri Association and the National Association of Tobacco Distributors. He has served on numerous boards of community organizations, including the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club of St. Louis.

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