Faculty Spotlight: Aristides Dimitriou
By Audrey White, Contributing Writer
The English department at Gettysburg College welcomes Professor Aristides Dimitriou all the way from UC Berkeley. This semester, he is teaching English 350B: Transitional and Hemispheric American Studies — an important topic for Dimitriou.
His is an inspirational story: Dimitriou put himself through school in his hometown of Miami while working full-time. Not necessarily the typical career path, he went “from factory worker to cook to musician to graphic designer to school teacher.”
In order to go from a factory worker to a college professor, Dimitriou knew he had to work hard and that struggle was inevitable. That’s why, at Gettysburg, he wants to be there for students: “[It’s] what helped me survive when I was going through it, identifying key faculty.”
Now that he has obtained his PhD, he is not stopping there and is currently working on a book related to his dissertation. He hopes to incorporate other voices from the American periphery that are not always heard.
Professor Dimitriou is no exception to the mantra of doing what you love and loving what you do, surrounding himself with multiethnic literature of U.S. postcolonialism as well as Caribbean literature.
He describes his approach as an “emphasis on curiosity, less on recreation,” as these topics genuinely interest him both personally and professionally.
The need to be happy with his career is partly what drew him to English.
“We all get socialized by those closest,” he said. “Literature gives us a second opportunity to receive that from a source outside of which we are asked to conform.”
Professor Dimitriou certainly seems excited about his future at Gettysburg College, especially with the school being a liberal arts college. He hopes to “establish close relationships with colleagues and students in a setting that is smaller.”
Dimitriou is part of the college’s first cohort of Mellon Faculty Fellows, who “possess the experience, knowledge and skills to support underrepresented students,” Vice Provost Jack Ryan said. The fellowship funds one year of teaching a one course per semester load in a similar format to what some institutions might have in a post-doctoral fellowship. After the first year, Mellon Faculty Fellows assume a tenure-track assistant professorship and begin the standard tenure cycle and faculty governance rotation of all Gettysburg College faculty members.
After only a few weeks of classes, Dimitriou is more than impressed by the types of students he has met and taught at Gettysburg. What he likes most so far are the people.
“Everybody is warm and friendly,” he said. “The students are really smart, have been bringing their all and thinking critically.”
Professor Dimitriou comes from a working-class immigrant family and is a first-generation college student. He looks forward to “teaching and mentoring students from non-traditional backgrounds together with more traditional students [who] want to succeed in the face of adversity.”
As he begins the rest of his journey at Gettysburg College, he leaves us with an appeal “to learn to never be crippled by fear. Never allow fear to eliminate your opportunities.”