Alexandros Dimitriadis used the saying, “I’m not yelling, I’m just Greek” to calm his students and colleagues who may have been overwhelmed by his “larger-than-life presence.” He was passionate, outspoken, gregarious, and “pretty intense” at times, and these are all characteristics his friends and colleagues at Polk State College will miss.
Dimitriadis recently passed away after seven years of service to the College as a full-time Professor of Mathematics. He was also an assessment coordinator for the Winter Haven Campus Math Department and an active member of the Faculty Senate.
“Alexandros was very passionate about teaching and wanting his students to be successful,” Professor of Mathematics Scott Perkins said. “He backed up this passion by being involved in everything he could to support students and faculty. Part of his legacy is having his hands in so many things and always being willing to help.”
Dimitriadis’ colleagues recognized his commitment in a variety of ways, from his 90-minute commute to and from work each day, to his outward expression of gratitude for his job at Polk State.
“He would frequently tell us how he felt very grateful to be able to be a professor at Polk State,” Professor of Mathematics Greg Toole said. “He would frequently tell everyone how he did not mind his long commute, but rather would say to himself ‘thank you thank you thank you,’ for his opportunities at Polk during the drive.”
He also took the time to get to know his students and shared with them his own story. In his Canvas courses, Dimtiriadis published a short autobiography that gives an insightful view into who he was both in the classroom and outside of the College.
“Alexandros was very passionate about teaching and wanting his students to be successful. He backed up this passion by being involved in everything he could to support students and faculty.”
Born and raised in Greece, Dimitriadis earned a bachelor’s degree in Marine Engineering, like a “regular geek,” before deciding to “rebel” by becoming a sports journalist. His work as a reporter led him to cover a tennis match in Florida, where he met his wife, Bernadette.
He moved to Florida and completed a second bachelor’s degree, this time in Mathematics, as well as a master’s degree before beginning a dissertation for a Doctorate in Education. He taught math for 20 years, both at the high school and college levels.
He was honest with his students about his expectations.
“I believe in hands-on teaching where the teacher and the learner are working together towards the common goal of understanding the material in a constantly interactive and reflective way for both,” Dimitriadis wrote. “Let’s take the trip to success together and don’t forget…, I’m not yelling, I’m Greek! That’s how we talk.”
Toole noted Dimitriadis’ “booming voice.”
“You could hear his enthusiasm about teaching math from down the hallway,” he said. “He was very dedicated to his students and always honest with them, encouraging them to put forth as much effort as he was putting forth. He very much believed that a student and teacher working together was the most effective path to success.”
Bill Caldecutt, President of Faculty Senate, explained that Dimitriadis exercised this same level of openness, honesty, and expectation with his colleagues.
“Alexandros was an incredibly and uniquely valuable member of the Senate because he filled the role of saying what everyone else was thinking,” Caldecutt said. “I could count on him when faculty were concerned about something but too hesitant to bring it up. He would get conversations started that desperately needed to be discussed, and he had no hesitation.”
Dimtriadis’ service went beyond the Senate to include different subcommittees, screening committees, and workgroups.
“He volunteered and worked every week during the summer [of 2020] with a small Senate sub-group on Zoom, for two or three hours at a time, to make some suggested procedural changes,” Caldecutt said. “During the pandemic, he rolled up his sleeves, donated his time, and went above and beyond to work with us.”
“You could hear his enthusiasm about teaching math from down the hallway. He very much believed that a student and teacher working together was the most effective path to success.”
Toole added that Dimtriadis loved being involved “because he was passionate about democracy and because Greeks invented democracy. He was very proud to be Greek and very proud to be on the Senate.”
Dimitriadis was also immensely proud of his son, Athanasios, who serves as a tutor in the Winter Haven Campus Teaching Learning Computer Center. Caldecutt recalled Dimitriadis and his son attending a Faculty Senate meeting together.
“We talk about being a family at the College and it was special to see father and son hanging out at a Faculty Senate meeting,” Caldecutt said. “It was obvious to me that Alexandros was very proud and wanted to show his son off.”
Dimitriadis also shared hobbies and interests with colleagues, including Manchester United Football, Formula 1 Racing, stamp collecting, and aquariums.
Math faculty recalled a party hosted at the Dimitriadis home, where he kept beautiful fish tanks and encouraged his colleagues to try Greek fare and spirits.
“He was gregarious and hospitable,” Perkins said.
“He had a unique presence,” Toole added. “Whenever he spoke, you knew it would be insightful, you know it would be important, and you would want to perk up your ears and listen.”
“Alexandros had a big voice, a big personality, and a big impact,” he said. “He will be greatly missed.”