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.

Graziella Ioele (Program Coordinator)

Graziella Ioele oversees student life activities at the Italy Center.   Her day-to-day responsibilities include assisting students as they work to assimilate into the Italian culture.  In addition, Graziella plays a central role in coordinating service learning initiatives and social justice travel for the Italy Center.  Ms. Ioele attended the SHC Italy Center in the Fall of 2013 where she honed her Italian language skills while working at the Casa Rivani Center serving migrants.   She graduated in 2015 with a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations and Italian Studies from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.  She then spent a year serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest based in Gresham, Oregon.  In Oregon she served as a Cultural Orientation Coordinator working with the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement program. Graziella speaks entry level Spanish and advanced Italian.  She is originally from Long Island, New York.

Derek Lewis (Program Coordinator)

Derek Lewis oversees student life activities at the Camplus Alma Mater Residence Hall.  In addition to assisting students, his responsibilities include managing and expanding the Italy Center’s social media outreach.  Derek attended the Italy Center in the Fall of 2015, he is a recent graduate of Santa Clara University where he majored in Finance and minored in International Business.  Derek speaks advance Italian.  He is a native of Denver, Colorado and is an accomplished Tri-Athlete.




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) Lee Foust (Italian Literature)

Dr. 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. For the last 18 years 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)

Born in Bologna in 1977, Dr. Marchi studied Political Science at the University of Bologna where he graduated in 2003. Upon graduation he immediately began his doctoral studies and obtained his PhD in Political History of Contemporary Europe (XIX-XX century) in 2007. His doctorate was granted by four Universities: Bologna, Roma-Luiss, Perugia and Napoli-Suor Orsola Benincasa. Dr. Marchi’s thesis focused on religion and politics in Italy and France from Second World War to the Sixties.  Following many years of post-doctoral studies at the University of Bologna, long periods of research in France, numerous courses of Contemporary History and History of the European political systems and producing books and numerous academics articles on European history published in both French and Italian in December 2015 he became Senior Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science of Alma Mater Studiorum. In addition to his work at the Spring Hill College Italy Center, Dr. Marchi teaches International History for the students of the course of Political, Social and International Sciences at the University of Bologna.  His main research interests are French and Italian history of the XX century, history of European integration and French and Italian foreign policy.

Giulia Mingucci (Philosophy)

Dr. Mingucci teaches Ancient Philosophy at the University of Bologna, and Philosophy and Human Sciences at the Private Institute E. Fermi of Modena. After having received the 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 “Centre for the Study of Greek and Roman Antiquity” at the University of Oxford. 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. She is author of two books: Può il Computer Emozionarsi? Macchine & Intelligenza Emotiva (EAI 2015), and La fisiologia del pensiero in Aristotele (Il Mulino 2015).

Alia Nardini (International Relations)

Born in Milan, Italy, Dr. Nardini moved to England to study Philosophy and Politics at the University of York, U.K..  She has a PhD in History, Institutions and International Relations of Non-European Countries, specializing in American politics and the history of the Republican Party.  Alia Nardini is an adjunct fellow of Centro Studi Tocqueville Acton, she is a member of the Amici della Fondazione Spadolini, she collaborates with the Magna Carta Foundation, Istituto di Politica and the Vatican Radio.  Dr. Nardini is also on the editorial board of the journal Rivista di Politica.  She follows U.S. presidential elections for Italian magazines and newspapers, regularly publishes academic articles, and has written two books: one on war between morality and politics, and the second on American neoconservatism.

In the past, Dr. Nardini researched environmental issues with the National Trust in the United Kingdom, and with the World Wildlife Fund in 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. Besides teaching Political Science at the Spring Hill Italy Center, Dr. Nardini coordinates the internships and undergraduate research programs, and directs the immersion trip to Puglia and the summer internship projects in Brindisi on migration and environmental justice. Her current works focuses mainly on international relations, identity and conflict theory, and contemporary American political thought.

Eleonora Onghi (Art History)

Eleonora Onghi revieved her PhD in History of Art from the University of Siena in 2006. In Siena she taught art history and aesthetics, focusing on topics related to English art in the Eighteenth century and Italian Mannerism. Her current research deals with the relationships between intellectuals and painters in Rome around 1550, providing useful information on the genesis of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the painters. Furthermore, she has deepened some aspects of the rediscovery of Leonardo da Vinci’s art and theories in Italy and Great Britain in the Eighteenth century. She has taught Renaissance Art History at the Council on International Educational Exchange in Ferrara. As an independent editor, Dr. Onghi has collaborated with several publishing houses, for the realization of publications and cultural activities.

Maddalena Papini (Italian Language)

Dr 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)

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 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.