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Languages & Literatures

Amici of the University of Denver


Imagine a small community organization whose officers have served uninterrupted since its inception in 1995; who donate generously of their time, talents and money; who open their homes, gardens and businesses for events such as a bocce ball tournament, a classic car exhibit followed by a buffet; an Italian cooking demonstration and tasting; or a musical concert by DU students studying at Lamont, all the while providing delicious Italian food and wine -- all this to promote Italian culture and award grants to DU students studying in Italy -- and you've got a snapshot of the Amici of DU!

Brief History

Several friends were sitting around a table in a Bologna restaurant in 1994 eating wonderful Bolognese food and drinking good wine when the topic of conversation turned to supporting DU students studying abroad in Italy and Italian students studying at DU. They included the current President of the Amici, Dennis Ferraro and his wife BJ, Professor of Italian, Roberta Waldbaum and her husband Leonard (Amici representative on the Board of the Humanities Institute), and Political Science Professor. Spencer Wellhofer and his wife, Susan Lanman. Upon return to Denver, an expanded group met in the home of former trustee, Marion Gottesfeld, and the Amici was formed. Since that time we have sponsored a variety of innovative cultural, educational and athletic events all in support of awarding student grants for study in Italy.


An organization is defined by its mission, members and results. Our mission statement reads: The Amici is a group of friends committed to the promotion and support of the educational exchange of students and faculty between the University of Denver and Italy, Italian language acquisition and cultural appreciation and the enjoyment of la dolce vita (the sweet life). 

Value to Italian Studies at the University of Denver

The Italian program at DU takes a communicative approach to the teaching and learning of Italian and we encourage every student to take advantage of the many study abroad opportunities DU affords in Italy, the number one country of choice. Each year, students apply for our grants and are selected by the Scholarship Committee based on their academic achievement and financial need.

The first grants were awarded in 1994 and since that time the Amici has given out 77 grants to students to study abroad in Italy for a total of $95,700. The grants are for both academic study in an Italian university or program and musical training through the Clara Rosen Music Grants to students at the Lamont School of Music.

One student spoke of the experience as “inspirational and responsible in many ways for where I am in my present life. I would like to pay homage to your commitment to the study and enjoyment of Italian culture. That commitment helped put me on a path in life that is very fulfilling and it would be an honor to being paying it forward, so to speak” (Daniel Craig, John Cabot University)

“The experiences and opportunities I had while studying in Bologna have left a permanent imprint on not only my college experience, but my life experience as well. I have always been interested in history and no history more so than Italian. I am planning to continue on to a graduate program in order to some day teach Italian history at a university” (Luke Turner, University of Bologna)