Each member institution furnishes a "faculty representative" to Centro; from these, five are elected to sit on a governing board called the Managing Committee, currently under elected-chair Professor Michael Maas of Rice University. The Managing Committee hires a Professor-in Charge (PIC) for each year, and three subordinate faculty, usually an Associate Professor, an Assistant Professor, and a Graduate Student Instructor, who are responsible for instruction. Students at individual member universities should contact their faculty representative for further information (a recommendation from the faculty representative is required with every application).
Centro offers competitive admission to North American undergraduate students to study the Ancient City, Greek or Latin literature, Italian language, or (Renaissance and Baroque) Art History. Initially administered by Stanford University (and housed at Via Ulisse Seni 2), Centro is now administered by Duke University and housed at Via A. Algardi 19. A group of 36 undergraduate students is competitively selected as Centristi each semester; the faculty is drawn from American colleges and universities. The hallmark of Centro instruction is first-hand experience of the ancient monuments in Rome, in museums, in Campania, and in Sicily.
Centro has received important financial support from the Danforth Foundation, The Old Dominion Foundation, The Mellon Foundation, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, its consortium of colleges and universities, and former students. One of its founders was the American Classicist Brooks Otis, in whose memory the center's library is named.
In addition to the ancient city course students must take two additional courses (some choose to take a third). One class must be in either the Greek or the Latin language, though you may opt for both. Currently Centro provides two electives, Elementary Italian or Renaissance and Baroque Italian art history; however, Francesco Sgariglia, the program's current director, is developing ideas for new classes that would give Centristi more exposure to modern Italian culture, such as 'Italian Cooking.'
Art History is taught by the godlike Paul Tegmeyer, a faculty member of John Cabot University. The class consists of a weekly lecture Thursday afternoon and a field trip on Friday mornings, normally to a museum or church. Paul Tegmeyer's paints the history of Renaissance and Baroque Art History in Rome as well as Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel. The rewards of the class far outweigh the sacrifice of Friday mornings.
This intensity and proximity has several consequences, including:
Although the proximity can be maddening, most Centro students call this element one of the highlights of the program's structure. However, when the experience becomes overwhelming, many students like to escape to the beautiful Villa Doria Pamphili nearby, or wander down into Trastevere.
After eating at Centro for a semester, students often have difficulty reintegrating themselves into the then seemingly impoverished culinary world from which they came.
On the two week-long hell trips, the food is decided by Franco (q.v.) and thus reaches even higher heights of gourmet Italianity. A recent Sicily trip featured cannoli, fine wine, and a roast chicken which the students were told to eat with their fingers.
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