Published on Tue 11/20/18
The commitment to offer Texas A&M University students educational and cultural experiences abroad remains a top priority. Aggies have been gaining international experiences in Italy for more than three decades at the 500-year-old ex-convent and chapel of Santa Chiara in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy. Renowned for its walls and beauty, the medieval town is located between Arezzo and Cortona in Tuscany.
On a visit to Castiglion Fiorentino this fall, Vice Provost and Chief International Officer Michael Benedik led a team of administrators from Texas A&M through successful partnership discussions with local Mayor Mario Agnelli and the international service provider Italart, which has organized and led cultural experiences in Italy since the early 1980s.
“We look forward to continuing our partnerships with new agreements that will be beneficial to everyone,” Benedik said. “I was impressed by the hospitality of the people of Castiglion Fiorentino and the warmth and welcome they give to our students.”
Mayor Agnelli expressed the mutual respect and spirit of collaboration that continues between his city and Texas A&M after three decades of study abroad visits by A&M students.
“The positive experience American students have brought to the community of Castiglion Fiorentino is now part of our story, yesterday, today and tomorrow,” Agnelli said.
Having facilitated faculty-led study abroad courses at Castiglion Fiorentino for decades, Italart was uniquely positioned to broker the recent agreements. Although the convent and chapel on the grounds owned by the municipality of Castiglion Fiorentino and rented to Italart are temporarily closed in order to bring them up to new earthquake compliance standards, our programs in Castiglion Fiorentino continue uninterrupted.
The five year partnership gives the university preferred rates and scheduling for students. A&M will provide financial support for facilities assessments and program enhancements at the facility. Italart will temporarily transition the international experience from the convent to the Hotel Park in Castiglion Fiorentino while new building codes are implemented and structural improvements are planned and executed.
Associate Vice President for External Affairs Chad Wootton and Professor of Architecture and Global Faculty Advocate for Italy Elton Abbott teamed with Benedik during negotiations and joined with Italart Administrators Garnette Gott and Sharon Jones to plan for the center’s reopening after it is shored up to better resist the earthquakes that dot the region.
“We are pleased to renew commitments with Texas A&M, which we view as the principal and most important partner since our founding,” Jones said.
Wootton expressed the leadership team’s commitment to preserving the study abroad experience in Italy and described how the partnership represents a vital part of Texas A&M’s mission of education and service.
“The concept of ‘connected communities’ is fundamental to Texas A&M students, faculty and staff,” Wootton said. “The partnership with Italart is not just found in one facility; it is found in the streets, shops, sites and in connecting with the people of Castiglion Fiorentino. These new agreements articulate that more clearly and allow us to build on our history together.”
Related: Texas A&M Remains No.1 Among Public Universities For Number Of Students Studying Abroad