By Hannah Coombs
A year and a half after opening the Rome Campus, Assumption College President Cesareo has big plans for the program approaching its two year anniversary in the spring. The Rome Campus was introduced in 2012 as a living classroom experience in the heart of Rome on property of the Augustinians of the Assumption, central to the Assumption College faith.
In hopes of making more use of their property in Rome, the Assumptionists in Italy hoped to utilize their 10-acre property for education and proposed the Rome Campus for Assumption College years before the program began. The students, capped at 20 per semester, reside in the General House of the Assumptionists.
In an article with the Catholic Free Press, President Cesareo said, “Our students are going to be immersed in the best of the classic liberal arts tradition through the works they will study, through the use of the city as a living classroom”. The college hoped to not only introduce the students to a deeper connection with the Catholic tradition but offer something completely new to potential students.
A large percentage of the students on campus are familiar with the Rome Campus and have at some time or another participated in the schools sponsored events to promote attendance. Assumption Junior Jill Estrella commented, “last year alone it felt like every month there was some sort of event going on for the Rome campus, posters, dinners, Q&A sessions, it was everywhere”. But like many students, Estrella was unable to consider Rome as an option due to her major in Human Services. “My adviser basically said it was impossible unless I picked up additional courses later on in the year”. With only an established 5 courses, there was little room for flexibility for many students with course restrictions.
For some students that have returned from Rome, there are still changes and developments that can be made. Allie Zinni ’16 returned from Rome in the spring semester of 2014. She described her trip as “the educational experience of a lifetime” and that “everyday was an adventure”. But she feels that the program needs more development and more participants if it’s really going to be successful. “I just wish there were more students we were able to engage with and just more time to explore the city independently”.
Of close to 50 students that have attended Rome and with 15 planning to attend in the spring, many are satisfied with the program thus far. Kelsey Kirkpatrick ’16, will be attending the campus in the spring and submitted her application surprised by the simplicity. “I think they purposefully make it simple so that more students will apply. It was less intimidating than I thought it would be”. Kirkpatrick planned out her general course requirements since her first year knowing that she would want to study abroad. Tracy Baldelli ’15, was one of the first students to attend the Rome campus and has since been a major advocate for the program. Her courses completed three general requirements while also participating in the Papal Inauguration of Pope Francis. “We saw the ruins in Pompeii as well as stopping along on our trip to give presentations about Thomas Aquinas. I managed to visit and experience over 20 cities within Italy”.
President Cesareo and Rome Campus Director, Professor Lazar, are changing their marketing focus to first year students. “Starting next year, we are really going to target incoming freshmen to boost attendance and help them plan ahead”, Cesareo commented. He estimates close to 20 potential applicants for the fall of 2015 and hopes to get closer to capacity.
With the two-year anniversary approaching, the focus of the Rome Campus will shift to more events and informational sessions for underclassmen while targeting students interested in studying abroad.
For more information on the Rome Campus visit http://www.assumption.edu/rome-campus or contact Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Eloise Knowlton at (508)-767-7487.