Wednesday, February 22, 2012

57 years young

Happy birthday, SAIS Bologna.

C. Grove Haines and Clare Booth Luce
at the Bologna Center inaugural ceremony
Fifty-seven years ago today, the Bologna Center was inaugurated with a colorful ceremony and procession of dignitaries including U.S. Ambassador to Italy Clare Booth Luce and Italian Education Minister Giuseppe Ermini. The events culminated at the University of Bologna's resplendent Aula Magna, a reminder of the city's nine centuries of academic leadership and renown.

The Center started in borrowed rooms with four (all male) professors and 10 students from Austria, France, Italy and the United States. Six years after its founding, the program moved into a new building at via Belmeloro 11 where it has stayed since.

Today, there are some 190 students from 39 countries, hailing from all of the inhabited continents. At the end of this academic year they will join the more than 6,500 Bologna Center alumni from more than 110 countries.

Students in the early days
There is no shortage of legends about the origins of the Bologna Center. What is sure is the founder, C. Grove Haines, had a strong scholarly and emotional attachment to Italy. Some say U.S. intelligence funds may have supported the Center in its early days.

If so, could it be said that the money was well spent for Johns Hopkins, SAIS, Italy and the global community that the Center serves?

As this magazine commemorating SAIS Bologna's 10-year anniversary so eloquently put it, the early students were "growing up when the New Europe was being born of ashes and a dream; tomorrow they will help to prod the vision to fulfillment."

Is SAIS Bologna still relevant?

Consider SAIS's mission as defined in the magazine: "to prepare the best available candidates for careers in internationally-oriented areas of government, business, teaching, and research."

It's much the same today, 57 years later.

Class of 2011 in front of via Belmeloro 11

Nelson Graves

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