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Vol 39  No 10
Feb. 22, 2007


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Funding lets Memorial serve up more Italian

The Department of French and Spanish has received significant support that will allow it to dramatically expand its Italian programming. After two years of planning and negotiation, the Italian at Memorial project has been granted full approval by the Fondazione Cassamarca di Treviso, which is dedicated to preserving and fostering Italian language, culture, art and history worldwide. This prestigious foundation will finance the next nine years of Italian programming at Memorial through annual payments totalling approximately $370,000.

According to Dr. Magessa O’Reilly, head of the Department of French and Spanish, the foundation finances very select projects. “Several universities apply for funding from the Fondazione each year, so this agreement is a milestone for the Faculty of Arts,” he explained, adding that Memorial is the fifth Canadian university – and the only one in Atlantic Canada – to receive such support.

In December 2004, Italian course instructor Cristina Fabretto represented Memorial University to the president of the Fondazione Cassamarca, On. Avv. Dino De Poli. At that meeting, Ms. Fabretto explained that despite a growing interest in Italian among Memorial students, budgetary restrictions meant introductory courses could only be offered intermittently, and no funds were available to implement intermediate and advanced level studies.

This substantive new funding will broaden Italian course offerings on campus. Italian language (Italian 1000) will now be offered every fall semester, in two time slots for increased accessibility, while two classes of Italian 1001 will be offered in the winter. As well, plans to activate intermediate level courses are to be offered in the upcoming academic year. A credit course in Italian culture – which will cover topics such as literature, business and cinema – is in the planning stages.

By enabling continuity and growth in the program, Dr. O’Reilly expects that the support from Fondazione Cassamarca will ultimately allow Memorial to bring Italian to a level comparable to the well-established programs in Spanish, German and Russian. As with those programs, this could include incorporating study abroad and exchange components.

The development is a boon for students from all faculties. In fact, Dr. O’Reilly reports that current students who study Italian represent almost all faculties, and that this trend towards diversification is growing. Moreover, their enthusiasm and involvement has led to the accreditation of the first Italian society at Memorial. Now approved, this initiative is awaiting ratification.

“Receiving these funds opens an exciting chapter in the promotion of Italian language and culture at Memorial and in Atlantic Canada,” he said. “We hope this important agreement with Fondazione Cassamarca will mark the beginning of a long relationship that will open new opportunities for Memorial students.”

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