Rome Program Welcomes New Roles, Faces for Fall Semester
Date published: August 15, 2017
This fall, UD’s Eugene Constantin Campus just outside of Rome will welcome new faces
to the faculty and staff, as well as new roles for returning faces.
Affiliate Assistant Professor of Philosophy Philip Gonzales is beginning his third year of teaching at UD. He and his family lived in Europe
for eight years (three in Belgium and five in France) prior to coming to Irving. In
2015, he defended his doctoral dissertation on the postmodern significance of Erich
Przywara’s interpretation of the analogia entis at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. This work is appearing shortly with William
B. Eerdmans Publishing Company as Reimagining the Analogia Entis: Retrieving Erich Przywara in a Postmodern Context.
Gonzales is also currently editing a volume with Wipf and Stock Publishers on the
work of Cyril O’Regan, Exorcising Philosophical Modernity: Cyril O’Regan and Christian Discourse after Modernity. His areas of intellectual interest include 20th century Catholic philosophy, postmodern/contemporary
Continental philosophy and political theology. He is happily married to the love of
his life, Sarah, with whom he has four little girls, Sophia, Anastasia, and twins
Melanie and Serafina — as well as two family dogs, Stella and Finnegan, who were rescued
from shelters. And, yes, the whole family, dogs included, will be with him in Rome.
For leisure, besides reading, Gonzales loves to cook and walk. The former he is hoping
to take up a notch with fresh Roman ingredients.
“In teaching in Rome I desire to live and think with my family and students the festive
joy of the communion-of-beings and human existence,” said Gonzales. “This is to say,
that despite the real reality of sin and the tragedy of human existence, which cannot
be ignored in our world today, the loving gift of God’s creation is still good, indeed
‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). The Rome experience should thus be a time for all of us
to discover and recover the joy, love and festivity of being and existence. And there
is no better place to do this than the Eternal City.”
Affiliate Assistant Professor of Theology Father James Oberle, P.S.S., came to Irving in January 2009 after being asked by the Most Rev. Michael
Olson, at the time rector of Holy Trinity Seminary and now bishop of the Diocese of
Fort Worth, to assist him at Holy Trinity. Oberle then taught part-time at UD and
served in a number of different capacities at Holy Trinity until leaving the seminary
two years ago to begin teaching full time at UD. This will be his first semester teaching
“Teaching Western Theo Trad in Rome is like dying and going to heaven,” said Oberle.
“To quote 1 John, ‘What we have seen, what we have heard, what we have touched we
now reveal to you.’ All of the speculative and theoretical is revealed. What a great
opportunity for the teacher and the student.”
New Rome Campus Director of Student Affairs Lucas Preble, BA ’13 MS ’17, was a spring 2011 Romer, a theology major with an Italian concentration.
After graduation, Preble joined the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as campus visit
coordinator while pursuing a Master of Science in cybersecurity in the Satish and
Yasmin Gupta College of Business. He, accompanied by his wife Maria (Spence), BA ’12,
and their one-year-old son, Jackson, BA ’38, moved to the Eugene Constantin Campus
this summer to prepare for his new role.
“The Rome Student Affairs team is very enthusiastic about welcoming the next group
of Romers,” said Preble. “We want to share our experiences and give them the assistance
they need to explore the wonders Rome has revealed to each one of us.”
Finally, Assistant Professor of Classics and Assistant Dean for Academics Elizabeth Robinson, formerly affiliate assistant professor of art, has taught on the Rome campus since
fall 2015; she previously taught for the American University of Rome, the American
Academy in Rome Summer Program in Archaeology, and the Intercollegiate Center for
Classical Studies in Rome. After returning to the U.S. to teach at Binghamton University
during the 2014-15 academic year, she realized how much she had valued, while teaching
in Rome, being able to take her students to see artworks and buildings firsthand.
“I realized how important it is for me as a teacher to be able to give students direct
interactions with the materials they’re studying,” said Robinson.
She also wanted to teach at a small liberal arts university like the one from which
she herself had graduated (Bowdoin College in Maine).
“I want my students to have the same quality learning experience that I did as an
undergraduate, and I want them to be able to participate directly in my own research
projects,” said Robinson. “The choice to teach on the UD Rome campus was an ideal
fit for me.”
Since coming to teach in the Rome Program, Robinson has promoted the involvement of
UD students in the Gabii Project excavation, a project with which she has worked for more than eight years now (five UD students
took part last summer and one this summer), and participated in the Mysteries of Mithras and Other Mystic Cults in the Roman World Conference on the Eugene Constantin Campus in June 2016. She is currently working on a paper
that developed out of her presentation at this conference, which focused on elements
relating to the worship of Cybele at Larinum, the site that she studied for her dissertation
and the topic of her upcoming book, Urban Transformation in Ancient Molise: The integration of Larinum into the Roman
state, currently under contract with Oxford University Press; this new paper pertains to
the terracotta statuettes associated with the worship of Venus at the site. She hopes
to be able to present it at a conference in the next year and submit to a journal
after that. In the past year, she also had an entry appear in the Oxford Classical Dictionary on Larinum.
Also, Robinson was the first recipient last year of the Rome Program’s Milligan Faculty Fellowship. Robinson attended a conference in Romania with the help of this fellowship; a conference
volume will include Robinson’s paper “Prosopography of the Leading Families of Larinum
in the Roman Period.” Other of Robinson’s scholarly endeavors include submitting a
chapter, “Origins and Development of the Appia Antica from Rome to Bovillae,” to Vice
President, Dean and Director of the Rome Campus Peter Hatlie for a volume on which
he's working pertaining to Bovillae, the ancient city that can partially be found below the Rome campus, as well as a
chapter, “Empress Livia (58 BCE - 29 CE) on the Palatine Hill,” for a volume Hatlie
is editing based in part on the "People and Places of the European Past" course taught
on the Rome campus; several other UD faculty and alumni are participating in this
volume as well.
“I'm very honored to be serving as assistant dean for academics in the Rome Program,”
said Robinson. “In my new role I hope to maintain the same standards of excellence
that the Rome Program has become famous for, while also assisting Peter Hatlie, Lucas
Preble and the rest of the Rome faculty and staff with the many exciting initiatives
taking place here.”
Peter Searby, BA '01, feels that modern schools -- with a scarcity of opportunities for children to work with their hands and use their imaginations to explore their worlds -- are doing boys in particular a disservice. From this recognized deficiency, Searby conceived the idea for Riverside Center for Imaginative Learning. Also finding the education of boys to be a primary concern, Daniel Kerr, BA '03, opened St. Martin's Academy, a Catholic boys' boarding high school in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 2018.
In an intimate gathering at the Museum of Biblical Art in February, UD celebrated the inaugural Crowley Chamber Trio Concert, "Music in the Museum," the first of three concerts that took place this spring. The opening performance rekindled the university's popular Crowley concerts, which first took breath more than two decades ago.
Former Affiliate Assistant Professor of Spanish Nicole (Hammerschmidt) Lasswell, BA '03, and her husband, Martin, have two sons, Will and Stevie, both of whom have autism. For World Autism Awareness Day, the family was interviewed on Telemundo; because the boys are thriving, it seemed particularly important to the Lasswells to share their story and their hope with others.