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 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)

Dr. Guidotti 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.

Jordan Byrne (Program Coordinator)

Jordan Byrne was a member of the inaugural class of the Italy Center (Spring 2011) and later returned for studies in the Summer of 2012. She completed her undergraduate degree at University of Mississippi in Business Administration with a minor in Italian Language. Prior to returning to the Italy Center in 2014 as the Program Coordinator she worked for an accounting firm in Houston, Mississippi. At the Italy Center Jordan overseas all aspects of University housing in addition to supervising the Italy Center’s English as a Foreign Language Program. She is also instrumental in planning and implementing a number of study tours (i.e. Sicily, Morocco, Puglia, Rome). On occasion Jordan Byrne has supported recruitment efforts at a number of our partner campuses in the United States.




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

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.

John Lewis (Social Science – Community Based Research)

Professor Lewis did his B.A. at Loyola University Chicago in Political Science in 2005. He worked for three years in Israel/Palestine as a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, a Chicago-based organization documenting human rights abuses and supporting grassroots initiatives for nonviolent resistance. He returned to graduate school to complete an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies and Journalism at New York University in 2012. Later he worked for a year in Afghanistan as a social science researcher for the United States government. He has occasionally written for The Outpost, Al Jazeera English, 972 Magazine, among others, and was previously involved in political organizing in Ireland and the United States. In addition to overseeing the Italy Center’s service learning initiatives, Professor Lewis coordinates a number of the Center’s social justice travel programs. He is also responsible for coordinating the Italy Center’s initiatives at the Jesuit Poggeschi Center. John Lewis speaks advanced Italian and an intermediate level of Arabic.

Alia Nardini (International Relations)        

Born in Milan, Italy, Dr. Nardini moved to England to study Philosophy and Politics at the University of York. 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. She regularly follows U.S. elections for Italian magazines and newspapers, published various academic articles, and two books: one on war between morality and politics, and the second on American neoconservatism.

Dr. Nardini teaches Political Science and History at Spring Hill Italy Center, and coordinates the internships and undergraduate research programs. In the past, Dr. Nardini researched environmental issues with the National Trust in the United Kingdom, and with the World Wildlife Fund in Brindisi, Italy, where she was deeply involved in the Torre Guaceto Marine Reserve area, dealing with conservation issues, immigration and service learning projects with the local community. As well as co-directing the Puglia social justice immersion trip, her current 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.

Piero Pasotti (Business)

Piero Pasotti received both his Ph.D. and MSC in Economics from the University of Siena. His primary area of research is the Economic Analysis of Law with special reference to Corporate Governance issues. He conducted his research activity as a visiting scholar at the Fordham Law School and at the University of Hamburg Institute for Law and Economics and regularly presented his research activity at the annual meetings of the American Law and Economics Association, the European Association for Law and Economics, the Italian Society for Law and Economics and the Spanish Law and Economics Association. Professor Passotti had been for many years Adjunct Lecturer or Economics, Finance and Economics Analysis of Law at the University of Bologna. He had also been Adjunct Professor of International Economics at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Nicola Spaccucci (Communication Arts / Film)

Professor Spaccucci is an editor, director of production who has been involved in many projects from cinema to TV production, to videoclips and advertising. Since 2011, he has been responsible for the production and video editing at Dreamed Srl, Lavino Mezzo, Bologna. From 2008 to 2010 he was Assistant Director at Live working as a Video Technician at ASA Audiovisivi srl – Castelnuovo di Casalecchio – Bologna. 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 FilmTv ”L’ispettore Coliandro 2”, directed by Manetti Bros. Professional training in editing on AVID Xpress, at Accademia delle Arti Cinematografiche di Bologna. Professor Spaccucci offers xcellent knowledge of editing software: Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Movie Magic, AVID Xpress, Motion in their various versions. He is experienced in the field of film production, elaboration and distribution of audiovisual products on digital, analogical and film format. In addition, he provides a depth of knowledge of cinema and TV culture.

Irene Valsangiacomo (Theology)

Irene Valsangiacomo completed her Master’s Degree in Theology at the College of Bologna (FTER) in 2014. Prior to taking on a lead role in instructing Theology courses at the Italy Center she trained under the mentorship of distinquished Professor Jean Paul Hernadez S.J..   In addition to teaching the World Religions course at the Italy Center, she is actively involved in leading a number of initiatives for the University of Bologna Poggeschi Jesuit Center. She was born in Switzerland and as an undergraduate she studied Drama at the Theater School of Bologna (A. G. Garrone). After graduating in Theater Studies she volunteered in Sao Paulo (Brasil) as a social media coordinator for a Catholic organization working with youth. Upon her return from Brasil in 2010 she began studies in Theology and initiated her collaboration with the Jesuits of Bologna at the Centro Poggeschi.

Caterina Zanfi (Philosophy)

Dr. Zanfi received her PhD in Philosophy from the Universty of Bologna in 2008. She is author 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 (Communication Arts / Film)

Reda is a filmmaker, musician and producer born in 1977 in Casablanca who lives in Italy. In 2015 his most recent production titled “The Long Road to the Hall of Fame” appeared at the Los Angeles Pan African film festival. The Festival is the largest in the United States to expose african film makers. Professor Zine 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; see: www.itwillbewonderful.org He worked with the Hip Hop band Public Enemy on a documentary about the life of Malik Farrakhan (aka Tony King), titled The Long Road to the Hall of Fame.  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.