Dr. Teresa Fiore, the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, was welcomed formally to the academic community on April 4th, in an exceptional program sponsored by the Provost, University Advancement, CHSS’s Department of Spanish and Italian, the Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America and the Amici della Cultura Italiana Club. The site for this festive occasion was University Hall’s impressive Conference Center, the same venue in which MSU President Susan Cole had hosted on February 18, 2009 a celebration of the establishment of the Inserra Chair.
In his eloquent remarks highlighting the importance of the addition of the Inserra Chair to Montclair State University, Dr. Willard Gingerich, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, warmly welcomed and thanked the generous donors who had joined us for this celebration, most especially Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr. and the members of UNICO National.
In an animated introduction of Dr. Fiore, Dr. Linda Gould Levine, Chair of the Department of Spanish and Italian, shared with the evening’s guests highlights from Dr. Fiore’s impressive Curriculum Vita.
Dr. Fiore marked the occasion by the delivery of a keynote address, entitled “From Mortar to Immortal: Italian Immigrants in the U.S., Construction Work, and Artistic Creation.” The lecture addressed the issue of construction work as both physical labor and the subject of literary and artistic works. As Dr. Fiore observed, “The three artists analyzed (Stella, di Donato, Guglielmi) offer a powerful vision of how the process and the product of concrete building (mortar) made anonymous construction laborers immortal.” This intriguing presentation generated a lively and rich Q & A session, ably facilitated by the department’s Deputy Chair, Prof. Marisa Trubiano.
As noted by Dr. Marietta Morrissey, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Fiore’s presentation had “fully engaged members of the Montclair State faculty and students and the larger community in attendance as well. She demonstrated the great value that the Inserra Chair lends to MSU and to the promotion of Italian and Italian American Studies throughout the region.”
As on the occasion of the announcement of the establishment of the Inserra Chair in February 2009, guests were treated to a delightful concert by students and faculty from the John J. Cali School of Music. Directed by Dr. Stephen Oosting, Coordinator of Vocal Studies, with Prof. Mary Pinto at the piano, “Canti, Canzoni e Cantanti” featured selections from Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and Leoncavallo, skillfully and engagingly performed by faculty members Dr. Lori McCann and Dr. Stephen Oosting and Opera Workshop students Hannah Cullen, Pier Lamia Porter and Mia Pafumi. Theron Cromer, Max DeFrancesco, Matt DeMarco and Domenick Panfile concluded the festive program with a rousing “Four Tenors” version of DeCapua’s O sole mio that brought the cheering audience to its feet.
Asked to reflect upon the evening, Dr. Fiore offered the
following observations: “An Italian adage - il buon giorno
si vede dal mattino - suggests that a good start bodes well for the future.
If the future of the Inserra position were to be judged by the beautiful
welcoming ceremony of last April then I know I have much to look forward to.
The evening contained all the elements of a stimulating and gratifying
professional environment: intellectual curiosity across disciplines; mutual
sharing of research interests as well as life stories; the warm support of
colleagues, students, and administrators; the dynamic presence of the community
of donors; artistic performances; ... and food. Weeks after the event, I continue
to receive emails, even from colleagues who did not attend, suggesting new
areas of investigation related to the topic addressed and planting the seed for
future collaborations. I am grateful to
the evening's sponsors at the university, college, and department levels, the
performers from the Cali School, and the event organizer Dr. Mary Ann Re, for
being so generous with their resources, time, and talent.”
In a fitting close to her reflections, Dr. Fiore noted: “The creation of this Endowed Chair is the result of decade-long efforts at fund-raising in support of Italian and Italian American Studies at MSU: it is an honor to be the first Inserra Chair…. Through my work at MSU, I will endeavor to repay the trust and confidence placed on me.”