Augustana Dean Demetres Tryphonopoulos looks forward to teaching students, and learning from them

The University of Alberta Augustana Campus' newest dean on his research, his culture and the importance of keeping the focus on our students.

Tia Lalani - 15 August 2019

Dean Demetres Tryphonopoulos joined the Augustana Community on July 1, 2019.

Here's a fun fact about Demetres Tryphonopoulos: he has authored, co-authored or edited more books than there are vowels in his name (15 to be exact). The fact remains true when you refer to him more formally as Demetrious. Another fun fact: Dean Tryphonopoulos was born in Tripoli, a city in the center of the Peloponnese (southern peninsula) in Greece. As a language, Greek uses cases (in a different way than English does) so when you're talking about Demetres, you use the third person form: Demetres or Demetrious. When you're speaking to him, you use Demetre.

But Dean Tryphonopoulos isn't too concerned with all of that. Instead, his focus throughout the dean search and his subsequent appointment has been what it's always been during his 30-year long academic career: students. In fact, Dean Tryphonopoulos even credits his students for the ideas that have sparked his 15 books, as well as various other chapters, articles and research projects.

"When you look at a text or consider a topic in the classroom, sometimes a student's question will trigger a thirst to learn more about that topic or give you a particular perspective on how something can be approached," he said. "I've worked all my life on Ezra Pound and other modernist poets and even still, a student will ask a question that opens up a new way of seeing. It's the most exciting thing."

His passion makes all the more sense when you look back at his academic journey, which really began after taking an undergraduate introductory English course even though he was enrolled in pre-med at Western University.

"Our first-year calculus class probably had about 120 people in it, our biology class was done through tapes-we never even met the professor," Tryphonopoulos recalled. "I never got to know any of those professors and it didn't excite me."

Tryphonopoulos went on further to explain how the experience he's already had in his short time at Augustana has been opposite of the first moments of his undergraduate degree.

"I was impressed when I was taken around by faculty and staff that every student we came across knew who I was with and who I was with knew every student. That's incredibly empowering."

Tryphonopoulos looks forward to getting to know students even more in his position as dean, as well as a teaching professor: he will be leading a class on early 20th-century literature this winter. When first asked if he was, in fact, teaching, he smiled.

"It's a controversial issue," he chuckled, referencing the fact that many believe he will be far too busy to teach. "But the reason why I'm here, even in the dean's office, is because I've always felt teaching is a central part of what professors should do, and I don't want to give that up. It'll also be an opportunity for students to come to my class and tell me how Augustana is doing and how their friends are doing, which will be a lot easier to do than when you're just meeting someone in passing."

Other than teaching, learning and Ezra Pound, Tryphonopoulos is interested in soccer, having played at the university level and coached the sport at the provincial and national level. He's also passionate about his own culture.

"Every now and then I pick up The Iliad or The Odyssey and re-read them-my passion goes back thousands of years."

As he settles into both Camrose and Augustana, he hopes to look at the challenges that face Augustana as opportunities and is excited about working with the amazing people that make up these communities.

"Decisions aren't made in this office," Tryphonopoulos said. "They're made in consultation with the experts. We have a lot of people here who are experts in their own fields and in their own disciplines and have much to teach me. I hope to be somebody whose door is always open…although it will be guarded by [my executive assistant] Mary-Anne. I hope to make everyone feel as though what's best for me and what's best for them and what's best for Augustana is the same thing."

A message from Dean Tryphonopoulos

I have arrived at a very exciting period in Augustana's development. Over the last two years, Augustana has introduced a new academic calendar and seminar for first-year students. It will soon introduce, as well, a new curriculum featuring multidisciplinary areas of study and a brand new core program. In the midst of these auspicious changes, this is also a time of shifting demographics, political transition and a new funding model. To allow me to get a deeper understanding of Augustana's current position while looking towards future goals, I've decided to borrow from the playbook used by several other universities who have undergone a leadership change: I'm declaring 100 Days of Listening, a period in which I will work towards assessing our strengths and weaknesses while considering strategic decisions, allowing me to hear from all stakeholders of our campus, including students, staff, faculty, community members, alumni, donors, etc.

Within this time period, I urge you to submit thoughts, questions, feedback, advice and any other pertinent information that you feel I should know. I will look forward to hearing and learning from you throughout the 100 Days.

Although you may not receive a directed response, know that I will have read and recorded everything and that the information will play an important role in guiding my leadership. Augustana would not be the campus it is without the continued and much appreciated interest of stakeholders such as yourselves. I look forward to having the opportunity to collaborate with you and continue to build Augustana as an innovative, close-knit campus invested in its community.

Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos

100 Days of Listening will take place from August 15 to November 22, 2019. Please send feedback to