Garrett Kirk ’24
The Tripod recently spoke with Director of the Office of Study Away Jennifer Summerhays regarding the Rome Campus’ 50th anniversary.
The Tripod first reported on the College’s plans for commemorating this achievement in 2019 before the celebration was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Summerhays told the Tripod that “plans for the Rome Campus 50th Anniversary were well-underway when the pandemic hit. Numerous stakeholders on and off campus had worked tirelessly to organize an engaging program that was ultimately postponed.”
Summerhays remarked that the original plan for the 50th anniversary involved a “celebratory week” at the Rome Campus during mid-March, 2020. They had also planned a number of significant events, including “cooking classes with local Chef Andrea Consoli…a semi-private visit to the Sistine Chapel guided by former onsite director Livio Pestilli…with the week culminating in a dinner and evening celebration at the Villa Aurelia.”
Summerhays indicated that the Office of Study Away hopes to carry out “some version of our original plan” when able, but that they have developed a remote option to celebrate the anniversary. This semester, “the Office of Alumni Relations in collaboration with the Rome Campus and the Office of Study Away are hosting Tuesdays in Rome.” These remote events occur one Tuesday per month and highlight the Rome campus prominently.
According to Summerhays, “the first two events had hundreds of alums in attendance,” crediting the planning and marketing of Director of Alumni Relations Steve Donovan and Rome Campus Director Stephen Marth, along with the Rome Campus’ “passionate alum base,” for the success of the events, describing them as “a positive way to celebrate the Rome campus until we can be there again in person.”
There have also been recent discussions about adjusting offerings at the Rome Campus. Over Summerhays’ tenure as Director of the Office of Study Away, she has observed “that programs must remain flexible to grow and thrive. They must adjust with the needs of students and as the world changes. At the same time, programs should remember how and why they started; we should allow history to inform change. The goal is to build on what is good, and gently recycle what is worn out. It’s a delicate balance, but I think we are achieving it in Rome. We have made some positive changes in the areas of experiential learning, immersive language projects, DEI initiatives, health and safety protocols, and visiting student outreach, without disrupting the magic of the program’s origins.”
There may be changes on the horizon for the College’s Rome Campus, as Summerhays indicated that the Office of Study Away is “continually revising and refining, working on improving our academic and co-curricular offerings and strategizing about how to set ourselves apart from other programs in Rome. At the moment, we are exploring a new model for summer programming, language immersion initiatives, and an expanded portfolio of internship offerings.”
Summerhays added that the Rome Campus “is at the very heart of who Trinity has been. It is rare, after 50 years, to have a study away program still intact and going strong. The Rome campus remains exceptional because of the thousands of people who care about it.” The College’s official plans for a rescheduled Rome campus celebration are expected to be reported later in the year once pandemic conditions are clearer.