Ceremonial Renovation Project signing with Ariccia Mayor Gianluca Staccoli and Human Sciences Dean Susan Hubbard. Also pictured (L-R), Resident Director Maurizio Antonini, Ariccia Head of City Works Michele Serafini and Palazzo Chigi Curator Francesco Petrucci.
Seeing the world with a global lens while holding onto a strong sense of family. That is the heart of Joseph S. Bruno (JSB) Auburn Abroad in Italy, celebrating its 20th anniversary. The College of Human Science’s study abroad program is home to Auburn University’s only permanent overseas campus 20 miles southeast of Rome. Each semester up to 22 students call a magnificent 17th-century palace, the Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, Italy, home as they take courses and excursions, all while being immersed and engaged in the Italian culture and earning an international minor in Human Sciences.
“It is so much more than seeing the sights,” said current JSB participant and Auburn University senior Campbell Sandlin. “We are so fortunate to be a part of this program and to build relationships with the people in the Ariccia community. It is something I will take with me for the rest of my life, both personally and professionally.”
Guests from both sides of the Atlantic and current JSB students gather in the Palazzo Chigi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy.
Sandlin is one of more than 1,000 students who, over the past 20 years, have experienced Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy. The group of students in Ariccia during this 2023 fall semester, were fortunate to be present for a Celebration of 20 Years in the Palazzo Chigi on Oct. 11, bringing together friends of the College of Human Sciences, local dignitaries and JSB founders and educators from both sides of the Atlantic.
“The students learn how to get along with other people and realize they can go somewhere they know nothing about and navigate their way successfully,” said Human Sciences Faculty Emerita Carol Warfield. Warfield is among the original core group tasked in 2002 with creating the curriculum for JSB Auburn Abroad in Italy. “The students leave with a greater confidence of knowing who they are, how to respect others and get along with different backgrounds. We honestly did not anticipate this positive result as we put together the curriculum in those early years, we were mostly thinking about students being immersed in the Italian culture.”
“When great minds come together extraordinary opportunities are born.”
The Celebration of 20 Years began with a reception held in the Bird Room of the Palazzo Chigi and included a ceremonial signing with the Mayor of Ariccia Dr. Gianluca Staccoli and College of Human Sciences Dean Susan Hubbard. The document signed by Staccoli and Hubbard signifies the beginning of a renovation project in the palace that would expand the student living space, allowing more Auburn University students to participate in what is often described as a life-transformative experience and one that traditionally has a 2-year wait list.
“When great minds come together extraordinary opportunities are born,” said Hubbard. “Just more than two decades ago, then dean of the College of Human Sciences and a dear friend and mentor to many, June Henton said ‘yes’ to an idea presented by a member of June’s International Board of Advisors at the time Alan Taylor and a beloved and long-time resident of Ariccia, Marco Antonini. Alan and Marco are no longer with us, but their idea combined with the passion and academic guidance of many over the years, continues to help shape young lives today.”
The current class of JSB student participants served as ambassadors during the Celebration of 20 Years.
The Palazzo Chigi is a palace with a rich history having been the residence of the influential Chigi family for four centuries. One of the family members became Pope Alexander VII in 1655, and he commissioned the renowned Baroque architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini to redesign the palace to reflect his papal status. In 1988, the Chigi family sold the property, including many masterpieces and other family relics, to the city of Ariccia. Thanks to its curator Arch. Francesco Petrucci, it has become one of the most prestigious museums of Baroque art in the world.
“For all of us in management here it has been an honor to be able to help this relationship grow and prosper,” Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy Resident Director Maurizio Antonini said. “Dean Henton had envisaged an initiative to give vision and international exposure to the College of Human Sciences and Auburn students and within a few months we conducted a pilot program with five students in the summer of 2002. That was a great success and opened the path to an uninterrupted presence of Auburn students in Ariccia since that time.”
Aperitivo and signing in the Bird Room in the Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, Italy.
College of Human Sciences faculty and staff emeritae Marilyn Bradbard, Harriet Giles and Carol Warfield, who were among the founders of the program, offered a moving toast at the celebration dinner, in honor of Henton who passed away in August, but whose desire and passion live on today. Members of the Joseph S. Bruno family and Foundation were also present, whose support from the very beginning helped launch the study abroad opportunity and continues today.
“What an honor to spend time in the living history of Ariccia and realize we are part of this history now as well,” student participant Sandlin added. “We are leaving our mark while growing our circle of friends and family.”
With a sunset just outside the palace windows painting the skies and highlighting the beauty of Ariccia, participants celebrated all that has been and focused keenly on what is to come. Renovating the old to bring in the new. As shared in a toast to the program, “May these first 20 years be only the beginning.”
To learn more about the Palazzo Chigi renovation plans, contact College of Human Sciences Advancement at email@example.com or 334-844-2849.
To learn more about Joseph S. Bruno Auburn Abroad in Italy visit humsci.auburn.edu/globaled/jsb.php.