Starting my academic career as a founding faculty member, and as its first elected Chairman, of the newly established Department of Chemistry of the University of Crete (UoC), I responded to the challenge to organize, with four other colleagues, from scrap a new Department at a developing University in Europe’s south end periphery, and at the same time produce high-quality research. The UoC had the reputation, between the Greek academics overseas, of an emerging research and teaching institution striving for quality.
Due to the dedication of the founding members (I can include myself) of UoC and of its Department of Chemistry some accomplishments can be mentioned:
The Chemistry Department of the UoC in a recent evaluation was classified the first Department of Chemistry in Greece on the base of the quality of faculty publications (mean h-Factor of faculty: see in T. Lazaridis, Scientometrics (2010) 82:211–216). This fact was also confirmed, on the basis of its overall performance (teaching, research, infrastructure), by the evaluation of Hellenic Quality Assurance & Accreditation Agency (ADIP): (http://www.hqaa.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141&Itemid=247&lang=en).
Within the Department of Chemistry I have organized the Division of Environmental and Analytical Chemistry and founded (by decision of the Senate of the University of Crete and the Ministry of Education of Greece) in 1997 the Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory (ECPL). I have managed to repatriate and hire for the Department of Chemistry and ECPL 3 young prolific scientists (N. Mihalopoulos [Atmospheric Chemistry] in 1993, M. Kanakidou [Environmental Modelling] in 1997 and S. Pergantis [Instrumental Analytical Chemistry] in 2003) to create a multidisciplinary team of Environmental Research. ECPL since its creation is the most productive research unit of the Department of Chemistry and the School of Sciences of the UoC by the number and quality of publications, citation record, and achievement in competitive research funding. According to Essential Science Indicators rankings (http://incites.com/rsg/esi), ECPLʼs average record of citations/faculty (>1200 citations/faculty member) corresponds to the top 1% for the fields of Environmental Sciences and Ecology (individual scientists 340 citations), Geosciences (540 citations) and Chemistry (850 citations).
I have applied and obtained (competitive) funding from the Ministry of Education and the European Commission, to initiate and run the postgraduate programmes “Environmental Sciences and Engineering” with the institutional collaboration of the School of Public Health, Harvard University (1998-2002) and the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras (1998-present) and “Environmental Protection Technologies” with the institutional collaboration of the Higher Technological Educational Institution of Crete (2003-present) that are the most attracting postgraduate programs of the School of Sciences and Engineering of UoC (60-70 candidates for 6 positions in each call). The above-mentioned graduate programmes have been positively evaluated three times by international committees including prominent members of the international scientific community (e.g. Prof. Paul Crutzen, Max Plank Institute, Nobel Prize of Chemistry (now retired); Prof. A. J. Zehnder, President of ETH and EPFL (now retired); Prof. W. Giger, ETH, Editor of ES&T (now retired)).
During my term as Dean of the Faculty of Sciences I managed to expand it to a Faculty of Sciences and Engineering through the establishment of two new Departments (Dept. of Materials Science and Dept. of Applied Mathematics).
Throughout my term, as President of the Technical Council of the University of Crete, the new campus in Voutes was extended with the new buildings of the Chemistry Dept., of the Student Centre and of the Sport Centre. In addition, were built the main frames of the Departments of Computer Science and Mathematics (now completed). The above-mentioned buildings were achieved in 5 years without any increase of their initial budget (for comparison the buildings of Biology and Physics at the same campus were constructed, before my term, in 10 years with a doubling of their initial budget).
I was very honoured that ca. 60% of the Faculty and 70% of the Personnel of the University of Crete elected me to be the Rector (President) of the University of Crete in May 2011 (term started on September 2011 and ended on September 2015). Despite the problems all the Greek HEIs faced, due to the changes to the Universities law in 2011 and the dramatic personnel and budget cuts from 2012 to the present, the University of Crete was distinguished from all other Greek Universities by the harmonious collaboration of the newly established University Council (equivalent to Board of Trustees) and the Rector and its untroubled functioning. In addition, despite all previously-mentioned problems the University of Crete is the best research academic institution in Greece and according to a recent ranking for research accomplishments (http://www.leidenranking.com/ranking.aspx) is the 1st of the 23 Greek Universities and came 48th in the Times Higher Education 2014 rankings of the world’s top 100 universities under 50 years old (improving compared with 2011-2013), and 5th for natural sciences in Europe in 2014 according to the CWTS Leiden Ranking of universities’ scientific performance” (see NATURE 2015, vol. 517, pp. 127-128). Commenting on this, Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings, said: “The Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 is a hotlist of the world's most dynamic and exciting young universities. The list contains many global superstars, including some of the most exceptional and well-funded East Asian institutions; so to make it into the top 100 is a significant achievement in itself. I would like to congratulate the University of Crete on their impressive performance this year, despite Greece’s well documented and extraordinary economic challenges, in strengthening their position amongst this world elite.” (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2014/one-hundred-under-fifty).
Starting my term as Rector, I have obtained financing from the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) to achieve the installation of all departments remaining in the old buildings (Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Material Science) in the new Heraklion-Voutes campus (by September 2012), and to build the extension of the Research Centre of Social and Human Sciences in the campus of Rethymnon (achieved in September 2015). In addition, the old campus of Knossos was remodelled to build 67 student rooms (achieved in August 2015).
During my Rector’s term, I continued my teaching (a semester under-graduate course and a semester graduate course) and research activities (see publications list).
In October 2015, I started my term as Vice President of Research of the Cyprus Institute.
In November 2016 I was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus at the University of Crete.