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Graziadio Gift To Support Italian American Studies Lecture Series

Published: October 17, 2011

A recent gift of $50,000 from the family of longtime university supporter George L. Graziadio will support the new annual Frank J. De Santis Lecture Series in Italian American Studies.

“The Graziadio Center for Italian Studies once again salutes the Graziadio name and the legacy of George L. Graziadio for the ongoing support offered by the Graziadio family,” said Clorinda Donato, the new George L. Graziadio Chair of Italian Studies. “We salute their vision united with ours in making CSULB the venue for Italian and Italian American studies on the West Coast.”

It is the center’s goal to fund the annual De Santis Lecture Series with an endowment of $250,000 in order to offer the event in perpetuity. “It honors Frank, whose leadership and vision made it possible for the university to enter into contact with the Italian American community in the first place,” said Donato. “It also honors the memory of George and Reva Graziadio and their generosity, which reminds us all of the importance of staying focused on educational goals. It allows the center to continue its research into the lives of Italian Americans as well as it cooperates with the National Italian America Association (NIAA) in order to develop new course work in Italian American studies.”

Graziadio Gift To Support Lecture Series

The George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies hosted the inaugural De Santis lecture at the Karl Anatol Center in March. The series was inspired by Commendatore Frank J. De Santis, who sought to bring the Italian-American community together in an intellectual manner and provide students, educators and the public with an opportunity to explore and better understand the Italian-American experience.

The George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies, established in 1998, oversees numerous academic activities at CSULB including administering of classes, publishing a scholarly journal and newsletter, and coordinating lectures, seminars, and conferences in the area of Italian studies. As a result of the center’s diverse activities, students acquire a broad understanding of Italian culture and the extent to which this vibrant culture impacts the world.

Graziadio Gift To Support Italian American Studies Lecture Series
Pictured (l-r) are CSULB alum Gina Graziadio and her father, G. Louis Graziadio III in the Graziadio Center office near George L. Graziadioís credenza.

Donato feels the new gift is one of the most meaningful in the center’s brief history. “The strengths of the center being recognized by this support include its service as a point of reference for the community and its children to learn about their heritage and culture,” she said. “The younger Italian-Americans serve as a `bridge generation’ that connects their grandparents’ migrant generation with the Italy of today.”

Donato also pointed with pride to the Graziadio family’s recent gift of an elegant wooden credenza as a symbol of their commitment to institutions that further the teaching of Italian and Italian studies in Southern California.

Donato sees the center as a bastion of the Italian language. “There are lots of people in the surrounding community who understand, on a daily basis, especially in these horrific budgetary times, that without this center, the study of Italian would be gone,” she said. “All the community has to do is to look around to see that there is no Italian instruction at CSU Fullerton or Cal State L.A. or at Cal Poly Pomona. CSU Northridge has a minor in Italian. It takes fundraising to support a center like this. The community now sees what the value of this center means.”

–Richard Manly