It is hard to imagine the conditions in postwar Thessaloniki in 1924 as the region struggled to find its bearings alongside the influx of Greeks driven from war zones in the Balkan countries and Turkey. As Dr. William McGrew describes it in his history, Educating Across Cultures, Thessaloniki had become a vast Christian refugee camp with a significant Hebrew minority. The resolve of Dr. George White and his small group of colleagues to reestablish their school near Thessaloniki was both audacious and inspiring. In the postwar distress of Central Macedonia, Anatolia College refocused on a mission of educating Greek boys.

There were many obstacles to reopening the school in Thessaloniki. Anatolia had been a tuition-supported school in Merzifon, and thus, some doubted the feasibility of being able to operate in Greece. It was uncertain whether Anatolia could operate under Greek law or whether its degrees would be recognized. Disease decimated the vulnerable refugees. Many school-age children suffered from malaria. In addition, some protested American missionary interference in activities considered harmful to Greek interests.

Anatolia’s future in Greece depended on the decision of its trustees in Boston, who eventually agreed to support its relocation and to develop additional funding in the United States. Dr. White and his colleagues persisted and eventually met the conditions set by the Boston trustees for reopening in Greece—the first being a permit to operate, which was granted by the superintendent of education for Macedonia in February of 1925.

As we look back on our history, we can only be inspired by the tenacity, resolve, and commitment of our American missionary founders and American trustees to work in partnership with the Greek political and religious authorities to reestablish our school here in Thessaloniki. Those enlightened leaders understood the importance of setting and implementing high educational standards for the development and eventual prosperity of the city and region.

In spite of unimaginable hardships, they persisted as partners with a common goal in mind: the advancement of modern Greek society through the education of its young people. Anatolia and our host city, Thessaloniki, have grown and prospered together. Both have proven to be resilient, with an indomitable spirit to improve the human condition. Today, purpose remains the mission of providing the best educational experience possible for our students and their families. Improving access to deserving students and broadening our educational outreach to our Thessaloniki community is also a key element of our institutional ethos. We approach the next century with confidence in our shared goal of enhancing the educational achievement of Thessaloniki and the wider region. Ours is a lasting partnership, of which we can all be proud.

Albert H. “Chip” Elfner, III
President of the Board of Trustees of Anatolia College