Syracuse University Magazine

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Dr. Spiro Tzetzis

Promoting Health and Wellness

Dr. Spiro Tzetzis ’91 is proud of his Greek heritage, although his name can be a bit of a tongue twister. "When people see two Zs they just stop," he says. "If you drop the first T and spell it Zetzis, it’s easy to pronounce." That advice will come in handy in his new position as medical director of the Department of Health Services. A board certified physician of the American Board of Family Medicine, Tzetzis brings a wealth of expertise and community connections that will help him provide quality care to more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and their spouses. According to Rebecca Dayton, associate vice president for health and wellness in the Division of Student Affairs, Tzetzis was chosen because he is a caring, sensitive, and skilled physician. "We wanted a combination of confidence, professionalism, and genuine care for students," she says. "Dr. Tzetzis exhibited all of that and more."

A Syracuse native, Tzetzis decided to attend the university on the Hill because his parents—who emigrated from Greece in 1956 and established a neighborhood market—wanted him to stay close to home so he could continue to work in the family business. With an eye toward medical school, he majored in biology with a focus on microbiology. "I had a wonderful experience with great professors and mentors in the biology program," Tzetzis says. "And I made lifelong friends." After four years at Chicago Medical School, Tzetzis returned to Syracuse for his family practice residency. "I came to think of Chicago as home, so it was a difficult decision to do my residency in Syracuse," he says. "The main reason I came back was for family."

Now, after 13 years in private practice, Tzetzis is ready to broaden his professional horizons. An avid Orange football, basketball, and lacrosse fan, he says he’s always felt a connection to the University and jumped at the chance to become more involved with SU students. On the job since June, Tzetzis is getting used to his new role as head of a 30-member team of health care providers and business staff, including a full-time information technology employee who manages thousands of digital medical records. Tzetzis also supervises a lab, a pharmacy, and SU’s student-run volunteer ambulance service. "I’m working with a marketing committee to make sure students are aware of the many health services available to them," he says. "I want them to feel comfortable coming to us for help."

Tzetzis’s years of experience as a family physician have prepared him well for the sheer volume of students who come to Health Services with an assortment of injuries, illnesses, and psychological issues. "I was exposed to so many things in family practice that I’m comfortable knowing how to deal with a variety of situations and crises," he says. "I had the whole spectrum of patients, but now I’ll be focused on students at various stages of maturity."

When he’s not treating flu outbreaks, teaching students how to take care of body piercings, or issuing cold weather advisories, Tzetzis participates in activities associated with his Greek culture. A lifelong member of St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church, he has served on the parish council for 15 years and is involved in organizing the church’s annual festival. In 2005, he received the American Hellenic Progressive Association’s Community Service Award for his active role in the local Greek community. "My main hobby is my children," says Tzetzis, whose daughter and son, ages 10 and 8, share his love of SU sports. "My kids enjoy coming to the games with me, and I’ve even converted my wife from a St. John’s supporter to an Orange fan. It’s good to be back in the SU family." Christine Yackel

Photo by John Dowling