Retirement Farewell for Voyatzis

June 4, 2021

Professor Mary Voyatzis retired this Spring after 35 years as a faculty member at the University of Arizona. She was hired in 1986 in the expanding Classics Department, and became the pillar of Greek Archaeology and Modern Greek Language Instruction. She served as Classics Department Head from 2000 to 2009. Always a pioneer with a vision, when the occasion arose in 2009 for campus wide unit reconfiguration, she and Regents’ Professor Barbara Mills (then Head of the Department of Anthropology) bridged the Classical Archaeology in Classics and Archaeology in Anthropology to form the Concentration in Mediterranean Archaeology in the newly-formed School of Anthropology. She retires as Professor Emerita of Classics and Professor of Anthropology.

Voyatzis received her B.A. from University of Pennsylvania, her MA from the University of Cambridge and her Ph.D. from University of College, London with a dissertation titled “the Sanctuary of Athena Alea at Tegea 800–600 BC and its relation to Other Arcadian Sanctuaries,” with J. N. Coldstream as her advisor.

The study of ancient Arcadia and religion anchored Voyatzis’ scholarship, teaching, and outreach. She has been a long-term valuable member and a Principal Investigator of the Norwegian Institute in Athens Excavation at the Sanctuary of Athena Alea at Tegea in Arcadia. Her monographs on the site include the Early Sanctuary of Athena Alea and other Archaic Sanctuaries in Arcadia; Tegea I: Investigations in the temple of Athena Alea (1991–1994); Tegea II: Investigations in the temple of Athena Alea (1991–1994, 2004) and have enriched immensely our understanding of the site. 

Since 2004, she embarked on a second Arcadian project, the Mt Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project which she co-directs with School of Anthropology Professor David Gilman Romano. Through successful NSF grants, other granting agencies, and private fund-raising, the Mt Lykaion project has become the training ground of several cohorts of Anthropology and Classics students, and fostered collaboration among faculty in Geosciences, Art History, and Arizona State Museum, to name a few. The important findings from this project have already been published in Hesperia and the Journal of Archaeological Science, in anticipation of the site volumes, currently in preparation.

Arcadia was also Mary Voyatzis’ ancestral home on her father’s side. Her father left Greece to pursue his graduate education in the USA, ultimately teaching as an Economics professor, and marrying Mary’s mother, a second-generation Greek-American from Pennsylvania. Voyatzis honored her Greek roots with a lifetime dedication to the instruction of Modern Greek language at the University of Arizona, her service at the Hellenic Cultural Foundation, and her support of the Hellenic community in Tucson in various ways. She served on the HCF board since her arrival to Tucson in 1986, and was elected its President from 2012 to 2020. Under her leadership the Foundation secured generous donations to the HCF Scholarship program, which annually recognizes outstanding University of Arizona students pursuing studies in Ancient and Modern Greek language, civilization, and culture. In the classroom, Mary Voyatzis shared her enthusiasm for Greek pottery and Greek religion and was a very popular and inspiring instructor. She served in almost 60 M.A. and Ph.D. committees in Classics, Anthropology, Art History, and Near Eastern Studies.

Voyatzis’ contributions to Greek archaeology and the University of Arizona are numerous: she served as the President of the Archaeological Institute of America Tucson Society and in the Managing Committee for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Mary has generously provided her expertise as project, article, and grant reviewer in prominent journal and funding agencies in the United States and Europe. At the University of Arizona, she served in numerous unit, college, and University committees, including the Selection Committee for Distinguished Professors and the Association for Women Faculty, where she was instrumental in establishing the TADA (Temporary Alternative Duty Assignment), a policy that enables parents and caregivers to balance personal and professional responsibilities.

Mary’s life, professionally and personally, is marked by devotion, hard work, and resilience. She and her husband Fred married in Tucson and raised their two sons here. Fred and Mary’s house was always a welcoming place for faculty and student gatherings. Mary’s major weakness, chocolate, makes her extremely popular. Many students have learned their mythology and ancient sites through little chocolate bars imported from Greece! Students, colleagues, and staff have also enjoyed her delicious homemade treats.

As Professor Emerita, Mary Voyatzis will continue her deep engagement in project direction, publications, and community outreach. Returning to where it all started, Mary is now spearheading a grand-scale renovation of her paternal house in Arcadia (Andritsaina) to transform it into the Parrhasian Heritage Foundation Research Center to support diverse forms of research including cultural heritage related to the creation of the Parrhasian Heritage Park of the Peloponnesos.

Anthro News Digest date: 06//04/2021. Photos: Eric Plemons