Carissimi membri del Board,
Many of you have joined the Board of Il Circolo only recently, so, my colleagues and I would like to take this electronic opportunity to make an important announcement, but not before we fill you in on the Circolo-FAU Italian Studies connection.
It was in August of 1986 (!) that our department, then called “Department of Languages and Linguistics,” received a $ 5,000 check from Il Circolo, the Italian Cultural Society of the Palm Beaches. Il Circolo President (a Dutchman called John Punte) and scholarship chairwoman Connie De Marco—both have since passed– presented that check to our department chair in the hope of planting a seed that would grow into a program that would one day be the pride of South Florida. Especially Father Nicholas Maestrini was bursting with pride for this initiative that came from the cultural organization that he had founded. Through a combination of circumstances too long to explain in an e-mail, I taught that first Italian class days after landing on Florida’s shores from New York where I was still working on my Ph.D. Well, under the subsequent leadership of our unforgettable Al Marzelli, by 1993, and –in my estimate–approximately $ 70,000 Il Circolo dollars later, and thanks also to the substantial support of the department, the college, and the university, I had created a full-fledged BA program in Italian. By then I had also obtained my Ph.D. from NYU. At that point, and after a national search, the department hired me in a tenure-track position to direct and further grow this program.
By 2000 the Italian Studies program was bursting at the seams, and we exploited the opportunity of a search for a department chair to attract a star from Purdue University, Prof. Anthony Tamburri, who gave this program an additional infusion of energy and brought Italian studies into the Ph.D. program in Comparative studies. After a 3-years stint as department chair and a 3-year term as associate dean, Anthony left to become dean of the Calandra Institute for Italian American Studies in New York (and boy, do we miss him!). But he left us his intellectual offspring, his Ph.D. students Ilaria Serra and Emanuele Pettener, who both received their doctorates at FAU and are stars in their own rights and the finest of colleagues. After a national search, and—I am proud to say–under my chairmanship of the department, they were both hired as faculty in the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature in the Fall of 2007. Today, and ever since 2001 we have kept enjoying Il Circolo’s generosity as an average of 6 students per year have enjoyed scholarships to study in Italy. Also, for 20 years, we could sustain the “Annual Connie De Marco Distinguished Lecture in Italian Studies” now replaced, thanks to our “regina” Sally Valenti, with the annual “New Italian Cinema Series in Honor of Pat Valenti” with prominent guests that join us via Ilaria’s excellent connections to the Italian film world. So, this is the story of your extended family in a nutshell. A beautiful tree has grown from that first seed, and it has yielded delicious fruits for all to enjoy.
We wish to celebrate our 30-year relationship with Il Circolo in a special way, and thanks to Barbara and Sergio Salani, and thanks also to the cooperation of FAU’s Life Long Learning Society that made its venue available to us and returns a small portion of the proceeds back to our program, we will be hosting an anniversary concert. Our very own Barbara and Sergio will perform their “FOUR NATIONS, FOUR HANDS” piano concert in the Life Long Learning Auditorium on our Boca campus on October 26th from 7:30-9:00. The Italian Consul General will be in attendance, the more since the consulate too is being honored simultaneously for its cooperation with our program for 25 years (Dr. Marco Rocca was the first consul general when the consulate opened in Miami). Some of you were already swept off your feet once, but we hope you will join us on this very special occasion.
We want to fill the auditorium with at least 300 people, so please help us advertise and spread the word! I am attaching the Life Long Learning website page, for directions on how to purchase tickets and how to reach the LLL auditorium on October 26th.