Faculty and Staff Biographies


Administrative Staff


Todd Waller (Director)

Prior 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)

As the Assistant Director of the Italy Center, Professor Buffatti overseas internships and undergraduate research opportunities for Spring Hill students. He is a practitioner and researcher having worked for numerous human rights causes across Italy and the Balkans. He currently is conducting 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 Resdence Hall)

Dr. Guidetti has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Bolonga. He overseas 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. He currently is project director for a new residence hall and conference facility which will house 280 students and will be completed in the Summer of 2013. 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.

Mary Jane Dempsey (Student Life Assistant)

Mary Jane Dempsey recently graduated from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) with degrees in both History and International Studies, with a specialization in Diplomacy and a minor in Italian. During her undergraduate career, she studied both at the Universita per Stranieri di Siena and SHC Italy Center. In Italy, having been awarded a Roebling scholarship, Mary Jane engaged in research on second generation Italians and citizenship laws. For this project, she received an Undergraduate Research Award from the Forum on Education Abroad and presented her research to an audience of 1300 professionals at the Forum’s 2013 conference in Chicago. Mary Jane’s honors thesis, for which she received the Karras prize, focused on twentieth century Italian women and their social and political experiences during fascism. She was also recognized with an award for the best senior thesis in International Studies and was named the “Outstanding Scholar” of the TCNJ Honors Program. In the future, she aspires to pursue a career in academia. In her free time, Mary Jane enjoys baking and watching Marx Brothers movies.




Elisabetta Cunsolo (Art History)

Elisabetta Cunsolo is adjunct professor of art history at the Dickinson College Center and at the Eastern College Consortium, in Bologna. She received her PHD in History of Art from the University of Bologna in 2004, specializing in the study of book illustration of the 16th and 17th centuries. Her current research, published in different articles, focuses on engravings made for some medical treatises printed in the second half of the Sixteenth century and aims to reconstruct the history of these books through the study of the connections that existed between physicians, engravers, and editors. In the past, she taught art history courses at the University of Bologna, and worked at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence as Assistant Curator of the Berenson Photo Library.

Steven Colatrella (Sociology)

Prof. Steven Colatrella grew up in northern New Jersey. He attended Bard College for his undergraduate degree. In 1989 he completed his M.A. in Political and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York. He has helped to found a myriad of organizations from the Brooklyn Anti-Nuclear Group (BANG), to Brooklynites Against Apartheid, to the Human Rights organization Neither East nor West, which helped free political prisoners from the Soviet bloc in the 1980s. After several years as a labor union organizer and contract negotiator, he returned to graduate school to complete his Ph.D. in Sociology at Binghamton University (SUNY). His Ph.D. research, on globalization and immigration, brought him to Italy where he completed his research as a Fulbright Scholar (1996). His book, Workers of the World: African and Asian Migrants in Italy in the 1990s (Trenton and Asmara: Africa World Press, 2001) was the result of years of research and hundreds of interviews with immigrants from every part of the world living and working in northern Italy.

Lorenza Fabretti (Italian Language)

Prior 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)

Dr. Foust first came to Italy as an undergraduate student in 1980. He acquired his PhD at New York University in the Comparative Literature department where he focused on Italian and English medieval literature. While living in New York he co-edited the literary magazine resister—which published excerpts from his novel Inbetween. His prose poems and creative fiction has appeared in The Village Voice, The Spin Alternative Music Guide, and Sojourner Magazine. Dr. Foust has taught or currently teaches Renaissance and Modern Italian literature and Creative Writing at Studio Art Centers International, Italian Literature, Dante, Creative Writing and various comparative topics for the California State University, Epic Poetry, Boccaccio and Chaucer, Studies in Fiction and The Modern European Novel for Gonzaga University, all three in Florence Italy. He has also taught Italian Literature (modern and pre-modern) and Dante for Richmond College in Florence and the International Studies Institute at Palazza Rucellai as well as a Great Books course at New York University’s Villa La Pietra, also in Florence.

Jean-Paul Hernandez S.J (Theology)

Father Jean-Paul is a native of Switzerland where he graduated in classical philology (1991). He then entered the Society of Jesus in 1992. He studied philosophy in Padova, Italy, theology in Naples and he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Frankfurt, Germany (2005). Recent publications include a book titled Nel grembo della Trinita which focuses on early Christian art and baptisteries. He co-directs the Centro Poggeschi Jesuit Center in Bologna which engages University of Bologna students in important spiritual, cultural and political awareness work.

Alia Nardini (Political Science)

Born in Milan, Italy, Dr. Nardini moved to England to study Philosophy and Politics at the University of York, where she also completed a Masters in Political Philosophy and the Idea of Toleration. She then returned to her home country and acquired a PhD in History, Institutions and International Relations of Non-European Countries at the University of Pisa, in 2008, specializing on American politics and the history of the Republican Party.

Prior to teaching at Spring Hill College, Dr. Nardini taught Political Philosophy and History of Political Thought at the University of Bologna, and Political Science at the University of Pisa. She is among the founding members of the Tocqueville-Acton Center and writes for numerous magazines and journals. She has published various academic articles and two books, one on war between morality and politics, and the second on American neoconservatism, both in Italian. Apart from regularly following US elections for several organizations in Italy, her research interests focus on the history and politics of the United States, transatlantic relations, human rights promotion in American foreign policy and just war theory.

Mili Romano (Italian Language)

Dr.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 Dickenson 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 (Theology)

Irene Valsangiacomo is a doctoral candidate at Theology College of Bologna (FTER). She 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 then began studies in theology and the collaboration with the Jesuits of Bologna in Centro Poggeschi.

Caterina Zanfi (Philosophy)

Dr. Zanfi received her PhD in Philosophy from the Universty of Bologna in 2008. She isauthor of two books on the history of European Philosophy (Bergson, la tecnica e la guerra, Bologna 2009; Bergson e la filosofia tedesca, Macerata 2013, French translation Bergson et la philosophie allemande, Paris 2013). Dr. Zanfi’s interdisciplinary work integrates philosophy, anthropology, religious studies and art. She has conducted research at a number of institutes in Germany and France in addition to having worked for the United Nations – UNESCO Italian Commission for Culture, Education and World Heritage. She recently appeared on French television in an episode dedicated to the theme of Technology broadcast on the ARTE channel.

Reda Zine Ph.D (Communication Arts / Film)

Reda is a filmmaker, musician and producer born in 1977 in Casablanca who lives in Italy. He studied arabic media at the Sorbonne University in Paris and script & direction at the Cineteca di Bologna, Italy. He has been performing and teaching between United States (Dickinson College, Pennsylvania), France (INA, Panos Institute), Sweden (University of Lund – Oriental Studies), Italy (Museo Ara Pacis, Rai3 TV, RADIO Rai 3, Ivan Illich School), Morocco (Boulevard, Boultek), Tunis (Nejm Azzahra), Lebanon (Freemuse, Orient Institut-Beirut), and Turkey (House of Music). He is the artistic director of transnational musical opensource project “Sharing the Spring” produced by Creative Commons. He worked with the Hip Hop band Public Enemy on a documentary about the life of Malik Farrakhan (aka Tony King), (Suttvues Prod. and Special Jury Mention. July 10, 2009 at Premio Gianandrea Mutti, by Officina Cinema Sud-Est in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna). He is currently directing the Amitie project which entails 4 documentaries to be produced for the E.U. office on Awareness on Migration, Development and Human Rights.