Called to teach

Alumnus and adjunct professor establishes endowed book fund

By Susan Curphey

Some dreams really do come true – just ask George Vourlojianis ’70,’76G.

As a young boy, Vourlojianis frequented museums and historical films with his father and grandfather and got hooked on history. He dreamed of becoming a history teacher one day.

“I was put on earth to teach,” says the adjunct professor in the Department of History. “I don’t think of teaching as a job – it’s just another part of me. Some of us have the ability to impart knowledge to others.”

Vourlojianis

For more than 20 years, the Beachwood native has taught U.S. history at Lorain County Community College, where he’s history department chair. Additionally, Vourlojianis was on the faculty at Kent State University from 1992 to 2002. In 1999, he received the Distinguished Teacher Award for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Vourlojianis became an adjunct professor at John Carroll in 2001, when the University added U.S. military history to its curriculum. He recently received his certification to teach military history from the history department, U.S. Military Academy during a fellowship at West Point. In addition to U.S. and military history, he teaches classes about World War II and the Vietnam War.

Vourlojianis earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, along with his ROTC commission, from John Carroll and his doctorate in history from Kent State.

In his desire to give back to Carroll’s history department and to assist students further, Vourlojianis recently established the George N. Vourlojianis History Award Fund for history majors. The annual book award goes to one sophomore selected by a random drawing.

Vourlojianis also has made provisions for the University in his will and, as such, was inducted into John Carroll’s Magis Legacy Society.

During his days as a graduate student and ROTC cadet, his studies were interrupted when he was called to duty during the Vietnam War.

“My draft number was 39 – it was the only lottery I ever won,” he jokes.

The first lieutenant served two years of active duty at Fort Hood, Texas, and then four years in the Army Reserve. When he returned from active duty, he resumed his graduate studies at Carroll at night. During the day, he drove the delivery truck for his family’s furniture business, Janis Interiors.

Recalling student life at Carroll, Vourlojianis says, “In some ways it was a difficult time to be a student as the war escalated with no end in sight. The campus became more polarized; my generation became more polarized. There was a tension in the air.

“There were very good instructors here,” he adds. “In the history department, there were several scholars: Dr. (Michael S.) Pap, Dr. (George J.) Prpic, Father (Donald) Smythe, and Dr. (Wallace J.) Kosinski.”

When he was a graduate student, Vourlojianis received an honorary membership to Cleveland’s Grays Armory, a military history organization—originally a volunteer militia—which dates back to 1837.

“I met all sorts of war veterans and interesting people. I talked to guys who chased Pancho Villa through Mexico on horseback!”

Vourlojianis remains an active member and past president of Grays Armory. He also strongly supports the JCU chapter of Pershing Rifles, a national military fraternity for college students.

He and his wife, Sally, live in Elyria with plans to move soon into his Beachwood boyhood home. Vourlojianis says he looks forward to going home – to the place where his dreams of teaching began. JCU

This article originally appeared in the Magis newsletter.


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