Industrialist and philanthropist Constantine (Deno) Macricostas
recalls from his youth in Greece when the world seemed a much larger
and wider place than it is today.
“When I was a boy, it took 14 hours to travel
from my mother’s village to a place just 100 miles away,”
Macricostas recalled. “Today the whole world now is smaller: In a
few days, I’ll be flying on business to Korea, and I’ll be able to
get there in 14 hours.”
Macricostas, founder and chairman of
Brookfield-based Photronics Inc., has believed passionately for many
years in the need to bring the world closer to the students of WCSU.
Through the generosity of the $1.1 million gift of the Macricostas
Family Foundation to the university in 2003, Deno and his wife Marie
have made possible a diversity of programs to raise international
awareness including guest lectures and an endowed chair in Hellenic
and modern Greek studies. This spring they provided a grant to
support the trip organized by the WCSU Center for the Study of
Culture and Values to enable students to view the exhibition
“Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity” at the Onassis
Foundation USA in New York.
As the chairman of a multinational company with
overseas operations in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and the United
Kingdom, Macricostas is well aware of the importance of training a
workforce in the United States prepared to understand and compete
successfully in an interdependent global economy. He observed that
Americans cannot afford to adopt a U.S.-centered view of the world
in the face of continuing shifts in population and economic
imporance toward emerging powers such as China, India and Brazil.
“The globe has shrunk, and if you want to be
successful, you’ve got to be aware of the world,” Macricostas said.
“You will most likely have to travel outside the United States and,
if you do, then it is good to prepare by educating yourself in what
is beyond our borders. That’s true in business, in diplomacy, even
in the armed forces – today our service men and women are deployed
all over the world, and it’s important for them to understand
Kathie Azzariti also appreciates the impact
that developments in a distant country can have on the United
States, and she has found a way to help in promoting a global
perspective through her gifts to honor the Italian heritage of her
late husband, John. The Azzaritis already had become engaged in
supporting WCSU through John’s involvement as managing partner of
the KPMG practice in Stamford with the accounting program of the
Ancell School of Business.
wanted to give back to the university and the community,” Azzariti
said, “by offering a program on the area of Italy where John had his
roots,” the Puglia region along the Adriatic coast in the southeast
where John’s parents were born. Sponsored by that gift, WCSU Adjunct
Professor Patrizia Farina last year organized and presented a
special program on Puglia for the John F. Azzariti Memorial Lecture
at the university during 2011.
Azzariti expressed a strong appreciation for
Farina’s ability to share her knowledge and passion for Italian
culture. She showed that gratitude in a special way by providing
financial support for the three-week WCSU student trip led by Farina
to Florence during the 2011-12 winter intersession break to study
Italian and tour diverse cultural and historic sites in central
“Nothing can compare to being there, making
connections to the history, the culture and the people,” Azzariti
said. She cited the quote from the “Collect for Clubwomen” by Mary
Stewart that urges people “to strive, to touch, and to know the
great common human heart of us all.” Her hope in supporting travel
abroad, she said, is that the experience will help students to
attain that goal.
She believes strongly in the need for students
today to gain a more comprehensive and direct appreciation and
understanding for the world around them.
“A butterfly may flutter its wings in one
corner of the world, and cause a typhoon in another,” she said. “As
the financial troubles in Greece, Italy, Ireland and other economies
have shown, we are all in this together. Conflicts in the Middle
East and Far East challenge our understanding of history, religion
“We must keep up with the rapidly changing
world,” Azzariti observed. “It is beneficial to our own survival to
give our children — the students at this university — the roots and
wings to meet new challenges. We must give them the tools,
inspiration and opportunity to reach new heights, and make the world
Cover photo: Donor
Deno Macricostas (left) most recently supported a trip for students
to the Onassis Center in NYC.
Donor Kathie Azzariti lectures on the Puglia region of Italy
to students and guests.