College of Arts and Sciences

LaMotta Chair Honored With Prestigious Fulbright Italy 75th Anniversary Award  

William Connell Ph.D William Connell, Ph.D., Professor of History and La Motta Endowed Chair in Italian Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, will be among six distinguished international scholars being honored by The U.S.-Italian Fulbright Commission in celebration of its 75th anniversary year. Connell who conceptualized, helped develop and co-edit The Routledge History of Italian Americans along with his colleague, Maddalena Tirabassi, who directed the Italian edition of the volume, were among those bestowed with this prestigious recognition. The ceremony is scheduled to take place in Rome on June 5, 2023, at the Foreign Ministry, followed by a reception that evening at the American Embassy.

In January 2023, the U.S.-Italian Fulbright Commission posted its competition asking former Fulbrighters to enter their projects completed in recent years for consideration to commemorate this historic milestone.

Laura Cambriani, of The U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission said, "The project was selected as a distinguished example of the advancement of relations between Italy and the U.S., according to the principles of the competition announcement: Promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in support of U.S.-Italy shared values; Community Development and Civic Engagement seeking the cooperation between the two countries."

Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Seton Hall Provost and Executive Vice President, said, "It is so gratifying to congratulate Professor Connell for this distinguished 75th Anniversary Fulbright Award. It provides a wonderful example of how our world-class faculty foster international collaboration and significant interdisciplinary research as we celebrate our longstanding relationship with Italy in terms of scholarship, community, culture and heritage. Seton Hall is truly a home for great minds, benefitting academic opportunities for our students and University community."

Connell recounted how this project developed out of a thoughtful conversation in 2011 with UNICO leadership on ways to bring together and celebrate academic chairs, libraries and research centers in Italian and Italian American Studies at American universities that their charitable organization supported, including Seton Hall.

"I pointed out that, even as student interest was growing in Italian American history, and academic research was resulting in impressive work in single areas, there was no reliable history that covered the whole Italian experience in America that would meet academic standards. One of the problems was the fine specialized work we do," said Connell. "I suggested that a multi-authored book, with well-illustrated chapters written by acknowledged experts on topics extending from early exploration to 21st century Italian American youth culture, was what was needed, both to provide students with a reliable textbook, and to replace the many myths of Italian American history with a reliable historical account. UNICO liked the idea, offered a generous grant for the project, and from there it took shape."

Connell asked Stanislao Pugliese, friend, distinguished historian and holder of a UNICO endowed chair at Hofstra University, to co-edit the book with him. They invited forty scholars to write chapters on particular aspects of Italian American history. And, after much work by many, in 2018 the book was published to great success as The Routledge History of Italian Americans. Their Italian colleague, Maddalena Tirabassi, editor of the journal Altreltalie, contributed two of the book’s chapters, and accepted their invitation to direct an Italian edition, the Storia degli italoamericani through to its publication by Mondadori in 2019.

Storia degli italoamericani receives recognition "The award again underlines the importance of Seton Hall's efforts and the successful support of friends and alumni in creating a program in Italian and Italian American history and culture that was intended to achieve international recognition when it was established twenty-five years ago," said Connell. He shared, "In particular, the Italian Fulbright Commission has singled out Seton Hall in the past year, not only with this award, but also by funding Fulbright Research Scholar Claudio Staiti studying US immigration policy in the early 1900s, and by making a three-year commitment to a Fulbright Chair in Science or Business Administration to begin in 2024."

"The Routledge History of Italian Americans is already being used in classrooms around the country as we teach a new generation of students about a major ethnicity's evolving experience of triumphs, confrontations, assimilation and adherence to persistent traditions," said Connell.

Connell has published widely on historical topics in Italian or Italian American history, and he often involves the state’s large Italian American community in his programs and research. 

"It's a point of pride with me that so much of my career has been devoted to advancing the study of Italian history in the United States. The archival discoveries that I first made when a Fulbright Scholar in Italy, and that I continue to make, shed new light on Machiavelli, the Medici, and reform efforts in the Catholic Church," he said.

Connell, founding director of the Charles and Joan Alberto Italian Studies Institute, has received numerous recognitions including a 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, fellowships at Harvar's Villa I Tatti and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Mille Grazie Award of UNICO National, and the Presidential Award of the Columbian Foundation. Twice he served as a gubernatorial appointee on the New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission. In 2016 he received the Monsignor Joseph Granato Italian Culture Medal of Seton Hall University.

To learn more about the 75th Anniversary Award, visit The Fulbright U.S.- Italy Fulbright Commission site.

Learn more about Seton Hall and The Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchanges between Italy and the United States of America bringing Fulbright Italy Scholars to the University with the establishment of the Fulbright Research Lectureship Award at Seton Hall University for three academic years (2024-2027).

St. Peter's Basilica Rome Connection also provides an opportunity for an international cultural exchange with an embedded study abroad experience for first-year, undergraduate Seton Hall students during the first two weeks of June. Students can expand their study abroad skills while fully comprehending the culture, faith and language of the Eternal City. Through Rome Connection, students engage in a truly transformative journey through immersive learning to comprehend the ancient, medieval, baroque and contemporary layers of Rome, Seton Hall's global mission and the University’s special connection to the Eternal City.

Categories: Arts and Culture