Faculty and Staff Biographies


Administrative Staff


Todd  Waller  (Director)

ToddPrior to taking on the Director’s role at Spring Hill College Italy Center he  was the Dean of Students at the John Felice Loyola Rome Center.  Dr. Waller is the former Director of the Center for Democratic Studies and Constitutional Development (CCSDD) at the Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center. From 2001 to 2005 he directed the Balkan based Youth Organizing Institute, which focused on conflict resolution programs for college students attending from across the Balkans. He has taught service learning courses and coordinated international service projects at a number of universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, University of Denver, Regis University, and Fordham University.  He has directed two documentary films in Bosnia Herzegovina.  His doctoral dissertation is from the University of London’s Institue of Education titled: Mother Teresa wore Birkenstocks: an analysis of self and spiritual growth from former volunteers who walked in the shoes of the Missionaries of Charity.

 Vittorio Buffatti  (Assistant Director)

VittorioAs the Assistant Director of the Italy Center, Professor Buffatti overseas the administrative operations of the Italy Center.  He is a practitioner and researcher  having worked for numerous human rights causes across Italy and the Balkans.  In 2010 he conducted research for Amici dei Bambini  which is the largest non profit organziation in Italy addressing the needs of children. He holds two master’s degrees; one in Political Science (inderdisciplinary with Law) from the University of Bologna and another in Business and Non Profit Management from the Luigi Bocconi University in Milan. He has overseen the operations of youth and legal projects in the Balkans while working for the Johns Hopkin’s University Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development.  He served for six years as a tutor and director of student affairs for the Bologna based Loyola University (California) International  Law Program.

Riccardo Guidetti  (Director, Alma Mater Residence Hall)

IMG_0103Dr. Guidetti has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Bologna.  He oversees all day-to-day operations of the Alma Mater Campus where the Spring Hill Italy Center is based.  He directs the annual  Alma Mater and CEUR Foundation Conference based on a pressing social or political theme which then results in a yearly book that Dr. Guidetti edits. Prior to taking on the role as Director of the Alma Mater Residence Hall  he instructed philosophy courses at the prominent Mingetti Liceo High School in Bologna. He manages a staff of ten Alma Mater employees who keep the residence hall running.  He has a passion for American Football (not soccer) and played semi-professional football in Italy as a younger man.  He is employed by the Milan based CEUR Foundation.

Adrian Laudani (Program Coordinator)

Adrian LaudaAdrianni oversees student life, events, activities, and social justice travel coordination for the Italy Center. Adrian also assists with the Social Justice and Human Rights course, overseeing students in their service learning sites. Adrian attended the John Felice Rome Center in Spring of 2016. She graduated from the University of Scranton in 2018 with a major in Counseling and Human Services, concentration in Human Development, and minors in Italian and Theology. Adrian then completed a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, serving as a Refugee Resettlement Specialist at Catholic Charities Atlanta. Adrian comes from Valley Stream, New York.

Sarah Meo (Program Coordinator)

Sarah Meo assiSarahsts students as they integrate into Italian culture through the coordination of events, activities, and social justice immersion trips. Sarah also assists with the Political Science course as a Teaching Assistant. Sarah is a graduate of The College of New Jersey and the University of California, Irvine, holding a Master’s degree in Criminology with a focus on transnational organized crime. Recently, Sarah completed a Fulbright scholarship in Palermo, Sicily, conducting field research on anti-Mafia strategy with the organization Fondazione Falcone. Sarah is a proud native of New Jersey.




Alessandro Busca (Business)

ALESSANDROAlessandro Busca is a law researcher from the European University Institute in Florence. He holds a law degree from the University of Bologna, where he spent one year as an exchange student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also holds a master degree LL.M. from the University of Chicago Law School. He has worked in a number of international institutions, such as the European Court of Human Rights as well as international law firms. He has just completed a Ph.D. at the European University Institute.


Chiara Deodato (Internship Program Coordinator)

ChiaraChiara has lived in Bologna since mid 2017. Her current main job – and activism – is within a Bolognese organization dealing with poverty and community empowerment. She is committed to humanitarian, social and ethical principles and actions, through her academic path (MSc in International Humanitarian Action, after Political Science undergraduate degree), and  in work and volunteer experiences in not-for-profit and “social mission-driven” organizations with field experience throughout Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and Oceania.

Lorenza Fabretti  (Italian Language)

LorenzaPrior to instructing Italian at the Spring Hill College Italy Center, Professor Fabretti taught Italian language courses at the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome. From 2004 to 2010, Dr. Fabretti instructed English to immigrants for the Jesuit Refugee Services in Rome. She holds a Master’s Degree in Instruction and Promotion of Italian Language and Culture for Foreigners at the University of Venice. She completed her first Master’s Degree in International Studies at the University of Bologna in 2001 and her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Anthropology from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 1995. Prior to returning to Italy in 2000 she worked for the International Commission for Missing Person’s in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina assisting women from all three sides of war. Ms. Fabretti speaks Italian, English, Spanish, and entry level French and Bosnian (Serbo-Croat).

Lee Foust (Italian Literature)
LeeDr. Foust first came to Italy as an undergraduate student with Cal State’s study abroad program in Florence in 1989 and continued his studies the following year at Florence’s Universita’ degli Studi, completing 4 corsi singoli in literature and literary criticism. After earning BAs in both English and Italian from San Francisco State University, he acquired a PhD from New York University in Comparative Literature focusing on Italian and English medieval literature with a dissertation on Dante’s Commedia. Since 1998 Dr. Foust has taught various literature courses and Creative Writing at U.S. study abroad programs in Florence, Bologna, and Rome. Besides his scholarship, Dr. Foust is a fiction writer and performer with essays, articles, short stories, and poems published in newspapers, magazines, and in on-line journals in his native USA, here in Italy, as well as Canada and Australia. He has published two books: Sojourner is an anthology of short fiction and poetry on the theme of place, and Poison and Antidote, 9 Bohemian tales from San Francisco’s art and music underground of the 1980s. His first novel, Inbetween, is forthcoming in 2018.

Michele Marchi (History)
MIcheleBorn in Bologna in 1977, he studied Political Sciences at the University of Bologna where he graduated in 2003. Then he started a doctorate course and obtained his PhD in Political History of Contemporary Europe (XIX-XX century) in 2007. His thesis was about religion and politics in Italy and France from Second World War to the Sixties. After lots of years as a post-doctoral at the University of Bologna, lots of periods of research in France, lots of courses of Contemporary History and History of the European political systems taught at the University of Bologna and some books and lots of academics articles written on French, Italian and European history, in December 2015 he became Senior Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science of Alma Mater Studiorum, where he’s now teaching International History for the students of the course of Political, Social and International Sciences. His main research interests are French and Italian history of the XX century, history of European integration and French and Italian foreign policy. He has been working at the Department for the Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna, Ravenna Campus since January 2018.

Alia Nardini (Political Science, Independent Research)
AliaDr. Nardini studied Philosophy and Politics at the University of York, U.K., and has a PhD in History, Institutions and International Relations of Non-European Countries from the University of Pisa. Dr. Nardini is on the editorial board of the academic journals Economics, Law and Policy and Rivista di Politica and has written two books: one on war between morality and politics, and the second on American neoconservatism. She regularly writes on U.S. affairs for various Italian magazines and newspapers; Dr. Nardini is also an American politics correspondent for the Vatican Radio. Her current academic works focuses on international relations, theories of conflict, and contemporary American political thought. Besides teaching Political Science at the Spring Hill Italy Center, Dr. Nardini is Associate Director for Italy Center Academic Affairs and coordinates undergraduate research programs.

Piergiacomo Petrioli (Art History)
PGPiergiacomo Petrioli, PhD, is an art historian residing in Bologna. He holds a PhD from the University of Turin and a Specializzazione from the University of Siena. His fields of interest include Renaissance Art, Art criticism and collection of Tuscan Renaissance art in England and America, and 19th-Century art criticism and restoration in Siena. He has published several articles and books, including a textbook about the Renaissance in Central Italy for non-Italian students, “Percorso dell’arte italiana da Firenze a Roma”. Dr. Petrioli has taught Art History at the University of Siena, New York University/Florence, and Dartmouth College/Siena, Boston University in Padua and Venice, and History of Art Criticism at the University of Florence. His awards include two scholarships from the Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University and a fellowship from the Roberto Longhi Foundation of Art History in Florence.

Maddalena Papini (Italian Language)
MadelenaDr Papini holds a Master Degree in Education and Psycopedagogy from the University of Padova. In addition, she completed her Master degree in Italian Studies, European Literary Cultures and Linguistics in 2012 and a Bachelor Degree in Communication in 2003 (University of Bologna). Professor Papini is currently coordinating the Learning Disabilities Center “Casanova-Tassinari” and teaching Italian history and geography at Malpighi high school in Bologna. She has been collaborating with the Bologna Jesuit community in multiple capacities and is currently the Assistant of the non-profit association “Vicini d’Istanti”, committed to human rights and migration issues.

Mili Romano (Italian Language)
MillyDr.Romano holds a doctorate degree in Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of Florence which she acquired in 1977. Since 1986 she has been a professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Bologna. Simultaneously, Dr. Romano has been instructing Italian language courses since 1977. For 30+ years she has been a key member of the language instruction team at the Johns Hopkins Graduate School for International Studies Bologna. Her Italian teaching career also includes instructing courses at Brown University and Dickinson College in Bologna. She has authored numerous articles in academic journals and newspapers on foreign literature, contemporary art, urban anthropology, cinema and urban studies. Her interdisciplinary career includes curating numerous art exhibits in Bologna and throughout the Emilia Romagna region. In addition to her mother tongue of Italian Dr. Romano speaks English, French and Russian.

Irene Valsangiacomo (Guest Theology) 
IreneIrene Valsangiacomo was born in Switzerland and she studied drama at the Theater School of Bologna A. G. Garrone. After the graduation she did a volunteer experience in Sao Paulo (Brasil) in the context of a project of evangelization through social media. She studied theology at the Theology Faculty of Bologna and got a master degree in “Science, Philosophy and Theology of Religions” at the Theology Faculty of Lugano (Switzerland). She has been active within the “Rete Loyola”, the Jesuits of Bologna’s program for students, from 2008 to 2016. She is currently a religion professor in public school.


Claudia Marulo (Italian Language)
ClaudiaClaudia Marulo studied Modern Literature in Naples and acquired a PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Text Translation from the University of Siena, with a dissertation on hypernovel. She has been teaching Italian Literature and Italian Language for 10 years now, with great enthusiasm.Her literature courses focused on Dante and Boccaccio in the Medieval period, and on Calvino in the twentieth century. She published several articles and attended conferences in Lisbon, Zurich, and Louvain-la-Neuve. Dr. Marulo worked with university students from all over the United States, but also with European study abroad programs (Università per Stranieri di Siena) and Argentinean MA students (Università di Bologna). She taught at the Siena School for Liberal Arts and the AHA – Oregon University in Siena, the Italy Intensives of the East Carolina University in Certaldo (FI), and the Johns Hopkins University in Bologna. Throughout the years, Dr. Marulo has created original didactic material for specific Italian language learners, such as migrants, and undergraduate American students. She speaks advanced English and French.

Silvia Giagnoni (Media Studies/Journalism)
Silvia GiagSilvianoni is a writer and media instructor whose nonfiction work is rooted in civil rights and social justice issues. Giagnoni’s latest work focuses on immigration and immigrant rights in the U.S. South—her latest project is an investigation on detention centers and asylum seekers in the United States. Born and raised in Prato (Italy), Giagnoni lived and taught communication in the United States (Alabama and Florida) for fifteen years after relocating to her hometown in 2018. She has experience working in documentary film production and has authored books and essays in Italian and English, among which Here we May Rest. Alabama Immigrants in the Age of HB 56 (NewSouth Press 2017); Oltre la Siepe. Alla Ricerca di Harper Lee (Trans. Beyond the Hedge. In Search of Harper Lee) (Edizioni dell’Asino 2013); and Fields of Resistance. The Struggle of Florida’s Farmworkers for Justice (Haymarket Books 2011).

Nicola Spaccucci (Film Studies)
Nicola SNicola Spaccucci is an editor and director of production who has been involved in many projects in the last 15 years, from cinema to TV production, videoclips and advertising. From 2011 he leads production and video editing at Dreamed Srl, Lavino Mezzo, Bologna. From 2008 to 2010, he was the Assistant Director Live as Video Technician at ASA Audiovisivi srl – Castelnuovo di Casalecchio – Bologna and Video Editor for various videoclips and DVD, including live for Vasco Rossi, Stadio, Marco Travaglio,Talks with Ermanno Olmi” by Tatti Sanguineti. Since 2004 editor for Zoomworx soc.coop. for several TV and cinema film productions, including “Tu te souviens d’ Adil?” by Mohammed Zinnedaine, and the TV film “L’ispettore Coliandro 2″, directed by Manetti Bros. Professional training in editing on AVID Xpress at Accademia delle Arti Cinematografiche di Bologna with excellent knowledge of editing software: Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Movie Magic, AVID Xpress, Motion in their various versions. Experienced in the field of film production, elaboration and distribution of audiovisual products on digital, analogical and film format. Wide knowledge of cinema and TV culture. Writer of film subjects and scripts.

Ervjola Selenica (Social Science & Human Rights)
Ervjola SViolaelenica is visiting research fellow at the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex. She holds a PhD in International Studies from the University of Trento, an MSc. in International Development Studies from the University of Amsterdam (with Distinction), a BA in International Relations and Political Science from the University of Bologna, and a post-graduate diploma on Peace and Conflict from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway. She has worked for the International Training Programme for Conflict Management (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa – Italy) and as a consultant for UNESCO, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, FRIDE, European Parliament, the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society and the Norwegian Students’ and Academics International Assistance Fund. Her research interests include the political economy and politics of education reforms, state building and state formation in war and post-war settings, peacebuilding, conflict, critical security and the global governance of aid and development. Ervjola Selenica has a country expertise on Kosovo and East Timor.

Giulia Mingucci (Philosophy)

GiuliaGiulia Mingucci teaches Ancient Philosophy at the University of Bologna. After having received her BA and MA degrees in Philosophy from the University of Bologna, she obtained her PhD in “History of Ideas: Philosophy and Sciences” from the Italian Institute of Human Sciences (SUM) of Florence. During her PhD course, she conducted research at the University of Oxford as a visiting member of the “Centre for the Study of Greek and Roman Antiquity” and eventually obtained an award for her doctoral dissertation. Dr. Mingucci is mainly interested in the dialogue between ancient and contemporary thinkers in the research fields of Ancient Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Biology, and published several articles in Italian and English on these topics. She is member of the European Society of Ancient Philosophy (ESAP) and author of two books: Può il Computer Emozionarsi? Macchine & Intelligenza Emotiva (EAI 2015), and La fisiologia del pensiero in Aristotele (Il Mulino 2015; eng. transl. forthcoming).

Evan Welkin (Environmental Business, Travel Coordinator, Jesuit Worldwide Learning Program Manager)
EvanEvan Welkin grew up in Washington State and has lived in Italy since 2015. He has worked with Spring Hill students through programs organized at the farm where he and his wife are establishing a folk school and education center outside of Forli near Bologna. Evan holds a BA from Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina in Sociology and Anthropology and has worked for the last 10 years in community organizing, youth development and sustainable strategic planning through his consulting practice. He is an experienced group facilitator and cross-cultural trainer, organizing learning tours in Italy, Turkey, Mexico and the US.

Jan Nawazi (Community Programs Coordinator)

JanJan Nawazi left Afghanistan as a child, fleeing war and Taliban repression.  He lived with his mother and brothers and sisters in Pakistan, working as a child as a shoemaker.  At age 13, he left home for Iran. After working in Iran for 3 years, he made his way overland to Turkey, took a raft to Greece, and a ferry to Italy, arriving and applying for asylum in Italy at age 18. Jan has founded and operated a number of successful business in Bologna including his latest project; a Bolognese/Afghan fusion restaurant called Kabulagna. Jan has also previously worked as a cultural mediator for unaccompanied minors at a group home in Monghidoro. He speaks regularly about his experiences as a refugee and immigrant and participates in outreach and advocacy on behalf of the Hazara community in Afghanistan. He has collaborated with UNHCR, Emergency, Amnesty International.