Donors Help CSULB Offer Masters in Italian Studies Starting This Fall

California State University Long Beach students wishing to continue their studies in Italian can extend a major “grazie” to two donors who supplied the university with $100,000 in scholarship endowments for the new Master of Arts degree program set to start in the Fall.

Businessman Mario Giannini, who set up a scholarship fund in 2012 named after his two daughters, made the first of two $50,000 donations with the second contribution coming from Salemi Cangiano, both of which are reserved for graduate students.

The new Master of Arts program will start with an initial enrollment of 15 students. George L. Graziadio Chair of Italian Studies Clorinda Donato noted the generous donations as well as the approval of the Academic Senate for the commencement of the new graduate degree program.

“We’re all very excited in Italian Studies about the new degree,” Donato said in a press release. “The goal of this Master of Arts degree is to provide professional-level coursework in the field of Italian Studies. Students want MA degrees and CSULB is the place to come.”

Donato, who joined the department in 1988, said the new degree will benefit both the department and the College of Liberal Arts by drawing more experts to the campus which could help make the campus a voice for Italian studies on the West Coast. The donation from Cangiano will be recognized at the Graziadio Center with a plaque commemorating Cangiano’s late wife Sandy.

“It is nice that this is the way Mark Cangiano has chosen to honor the memory of his wife. It is something that lives. What better way of remembering someone’s life and legacy than to help others achieve their educational goals?” Donato said.

The money from both donations will help create “desperately needed scholarship funds” for graduate students according to Donato, an important step toward improving graduate students’ lives that by and large work while completing their degrees. The students and their educational experience was something that Donato pointed out as being the number one priority of fundraising.

The school’s Bachelor of Arts program was established with an agreement between the Italian-American community of Southern California and the university, and with a founding gift from Mr. George Graziadio, whom the center is named for. Italian is one of the fastest growing language courses being taught at all levels of education nationally and CSULB is the only university in California to offer a single subject teaching credential in Italian studies. The growing popularity and increase in funding at the university has Donato optimistic about the future of the programs, considering the interest in the Master of Arts program's initial year.

“That is really strong showing for the first year,” Donato said. “The enrollment represents an interesting cross-section of people. There are students who just graduated and there are students who are returning after other careers. A higher and higher percentage of the BA population are seeking Master’s degrees. The MA is the new BA.” 

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