Kitty Kyriacopoulos '45
May 28, 2006
Kitty Kyriacopoulos, class of 1945, you are living proof that a liberal arts education prepares a person for anything. As the Nazis invaded Greece during World War II, your family fled and eventually landed as refugees in New York City. Good fortune introduced you to Mount Holyoke College, where you came to study physics and mathematics. The College became your new home, and the relationships you built here have lasted a lifetime.
You returned to Greece in 1950, where you met your husband Paris Kyriacopoulos and started a family. Your father's death in 1970 left a vacuum in your family mining company's leadership, however, until you took the reins yourself. From 1970 until 1990 you served as chairman and managing director of not one, but two family-run mining companies. You brought your own leadership style to these posts: not only were you successful in warming your corporations' culture, you also showed great managerial savvy in improving your companies' productivity nine-fold in your first 16 years in charge. You continued to serve as chairman until 2000, when you became honorary chairman of the merged and renamed S&B Industrial Minerals S.A., a post you still hold today.
Throughout your career you have been committed to the welfare of your country and your fellow citizens. You have been a strong advocate for human rights, the environment, educational opportunity, and the preservation and cultivation of Greek culture. You serve on numerous boards, you have founded cultural centers for communities, and you have even built a mining museum. In 2005 you were awarded an honorary distinction by the Greek Council for Refugees in acknowledgement of your valuable contribution to improving living conditions for refugees in Greece. Indeed, throughout your life, you have dedicated yourself to giving back to the world in equal measure to everything you have received.
You are a rare commodity in the mining industry: a liberally educated, brilliantly entrepreneurial woman leader--dare we say a diamond in the rough. You were honored by the Star Group as one of the "Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World" for the year 1999. In 2002 you were given the title of Chevalier from the National Order of the French Legion of Honor and named Woman of the Year by the American Biographical Institute. To these honors we would like to add our own. You are a true daughter of Mary Lyon, and I am proud to confer upon you the degree doctor of humane letters, honoris causa.
Honorary Degree Recipient Address
By Kitty Kyriacopoulos '45