New Roles, Faces in Rome

Rome Program Welcomes New Roles, Faces for Fall Semester

Rome Faculty and Staff
Left to right: Lucas Preble, Philip Gonzales, Elizabeth Robinson, Father James Oberle

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 in Rome.

“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.”

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