Italian Cultural Studies Benefit from Endowed Fund
August 7, 2012
By: Marcus Turner

A provincial countryside, enduring cities, master painters, leaning architecture and great wine. All of these items conjure up the image of Italy, its culture, and its contributions to history. In an ever-increasing international and globally-connected world, the study of foreign cultures, languages and history has become paramount for university students. The rich Italian heritage and culture present in the United States has presented the University of Denver with an opportunity for Anna Maglione Sie Endowed Professor, Dr. Roberta Waldbaum to take the study of Italian culture to a new level in the Front Range.

Dr. Roberta Waldbaum, Anna Maglione-Sie Endowed Professor in Italian Culture

Dr. Waldbaum is one of a handful of faculty chairs on the University's campus to receive funding through an endowed fund. The gift, the Anna Maglione-Sie Endowment, given through the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, has provided numerous opportunities for students and faculty members in the Italian Program in the Department of Languages and Literatures within the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The advancement of the Italian Program is a dynamic process that must begin with the students, Dr. Waldbaum explained, "We look upon the endowment as the decisive first step in a journey that focuses on the core of our mission, our students."

One of the ways students have benefited from this endowment is to provide two graduate students with graduate fellowships at DU.  The Italian Program does not even have a graduate degree in its curriculum, which makes this unique.  Dr. Waldbaum and the rest of the faculty view it as keeping the spirit of Italian studies alive in graduate students who have a history with the subject. Students must have experience in Italian and part of the requirement to receive this scholarship is to participate in community service. The two most recent recipients, Chloe Campbell and Terese Maddalena, have dedicated hours to serve charities and non-profits across the country. To these students, pursuing degrees in social work and education respectively, the benefits are unending: community service in tandem with the opportunity to pursue a graduate education at an elite university.

In addition to student funding, the Anna Maglione-Sie Endowment has provided faculty members with opportunities to travel to Italy, present papers at academic conferences and further their research. By highlighting the higher cultural aspects of both modern and past Italy, this faculty creates a well-rounded and dynamic view of the country when teaching during the academic year. The endowment is particularly appreciated for funding research during the summer months as the teaching load is quite arduous. Six sections of elementary Italian are offered each quarter each with a class size of 22, followed by two sections of Intermediate Italian and finally two sections of Advanced Italian. These students have the option to declare Italian as a major or a minor.

Having accomplished so much to expand the Italian program in approximately one year of the endowment being active, Dr. Waldbaum now looks to the future. Having served her students and her colleagues, her vision now extends to the Denver community. She is currently planning on bringing an esteemed scholar in Italian Studies from the U.S. or Italy to give public lectures and enlighten the greater community on her passion, Italian culture. Dr. Waldbaum expressed her sincere gratitude to Anna and John Sie for their generosity. "Without them," she said, "things like this would not be possible."

Ascend — The Campaign for the University of Denver