The next time students and faculty enjoy a Subway meal in the School of Law courtyard or take a class in the Knight Physics Building, they should thank George C. Alexandrakis.
Alexandrakis, a professor in the physics department, has made contributions to the University of Miami’s decorative landscaping, tranquil courtyards and modern architecture.
“I’m the original beautifier,” said Alexandrakis, who came to the University of Miami in 1969 after teaching at Princeton University. He served on UM’s Faculty Senate for 30 years and resigned from his position as chairman of the Department of Physics in 2007.
While former university President Edward Thaddeus Foote II was in office from 1981 to 2001, Alexandrakis was a member of the University Building and Grounds Committee, which advised the president about architectural strategies, land use and urban design issues on campus.
“Much of the beautiful campus and buildings you see today are the result of his contributions,” said David A. Lieberman, former chair of the University Building and Grounds Committee, who worked with Alexandrakis for almost 20 years.
Next month, Alexandrakis will return to Greece, his native country, to continue writing a book currently titled, Some of the Firsts of the University of Crete.
The book will document and discuss Alexandrakis’ contributions during the initial development of the University of Crete.
Alexandrakis used similar approaches to his work at UM and the University of Crete, focusing on long-term issues that would face the university while meeting the needs of students, professors and faculty. One of the biggest issues that he dealt with was acquiring funds to attract top-performing students. From 1979-82 he was a visiting consultant for the University of Crete and acted as the Founding Chairman of their Department of Physics in the fall semester of 1978.
One of Alexandrakis’ new projects is collaborating on a proposal to establish a Mariette Blau Chair in Physics, in the hopes that it will attract more female physicists to the university. Blau was a female physicist who worked at the Department of Physics from 1956 to 1960.
Alexandrakis has received Outstanding Service Awards from both the University of Miami and the University of Crete, in addition to being a member of the Iron Arrow Society.
Arnold Perlmutter, a former professor who worked with Alexandrakis, said he admires his work.
“He is a true leader,” he said.
Allison Worrell may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.