To the class of 1991:
from Andrew Moran, Danny and Kathy Milligan, and Jon and Mary Jonz
Usually one receives fundraising letters from complete strangers whose relationship to the institution they represent is purely mercenary. I hope it thus gives you a heightened sense of self-importance that you’re being hit up for money by someone you fondly (or vaguely or unpleasantly) remember. Kathy (Uhl) and Danny Milligan, Mary (Bick) and Jon Jonz, and I are so brazenly shaking the tin cup in your face because it is for a cause that we all can agree is worthy, for something that has blessed our lives and those of thousands of other University of Dallas alumni: the Rome semester. As a private initiative, we’re raising money for the Rome Expansion and Renewal Campaign and hope to raise a significant amount as the Class of 1991 so that thousands of future students may benefit intellectually, spiritually, and personally from a semester in Rome, just as you and I did.
Somehow, I returned to UD as a professor, and am just back from two years teaching Lit. Trad. on the property UD purchased in 1994, the Eugene Constantin Campus, popularly known as Due Santi (“Two Saints” — it’s in an area just south of the city where, according to tradition, Sts. Peter and Paul met on the way to martyrdom). Its loveliness will make an old UD Romer from Via del Pescaccio jealous. There’s no more squeegeeing of the bathroom floor after every shower, and students no longer subsist on a diet of moonrocks and eggs (Due Santi’s kitchen, in contrast, is run by a sweet and generous couple, Nino and Nuccia, who could be cast as the Italian grandparents in a heartwarming romantic comedy; the upperclassmen want to fly them to Irving). In fact, UD now owns what — between the villa, the vineyard, the olive grove, the amphitheater, and the pergola — may be the most beautiful American university campus in Italy.
What matters most, however, is unchanged: the curriculum by which authors from Plato to Augustine to Shakespeare to Nietzsche provoke students to reflect on our own humanity; group trips to Greece and the distinct cities of Italy, which give different images of the different ways one can live one’s life; the spiritual maturation encouraged by a semester in the city of Peter and Paul, of the popes, of so many saints and martyrs; and the intense friendships made or solidified by sharing in struggles, joys and farcical adventures. But I should note that here too there has been change; here too, betterment. Dr. Wayne Ambler, who with his wife, Corlin, first came to Rome our year, returned in 1994 to direct the program and over the next decade put his stamp on things. The trips, for example, became more intellectually ambitious, while new traditions such as “G[r]eek Olympics” (an afternoon before the big trip of goofy games, such as turning classmates into shaving cream sculptures modeled on originals from Art and Arch) create an even deeper camaraderie and make for more fun memories. Having been both a student and a teacher in Rome, I can say that today’s students are getting an even richer experience.
Unfortunately, the growth of the university’s undergraduate population — a very good thing! — now means that we’re running short on space in Rome. That semester whose challenges and follies and triumphs prepared us for adulthood and greater responsibilities could be denied some deserving students because we simply don’t have the beds. In response, my colleague Dr. Peter Hatlie, the campus director, has inaugurated the Rome Expansion and Renewal Campaign. Learn more at this website, from which one can link to an informative video and see footage of Due Santi: udallas.edu/duesanti.
You will see that in addition to the dormitory wing and the development of other spaces to handle a larger student body, the Rome expansion will also include the construction of an additional faculty residence with two apartments next to the villa. For a professor with a family, moving to Rome is a real challenge and even a sacrifice, all the more so because there’s a faculty space-crunch too. We need another living space for faculty families, which will cost approximately $250,000 total, and we think our class should go big and raise $150,000, leading the effort to fund this new faculty residence. And as our class was the first to be guided by Wayne and Corlin Ambler in Rome, the first there to be lifted up by their intelligence, good will, and wit, we propose to name the villa residence after them. The integrity they modeled as parents and spouses, and the balance they achieved between work and family, were a very good thing for college sophomores to see, so it would be fitting that a space for future faculty families, so important to the life of the Rome semester, would honor them.
Between one donation for about 15 percent of $150,000 and a handful of others, we begin at nearly 20 percent of the goal. With large gifts complemented by gifts between $100 and $1,000, our class can lead this effort to honor the Amblers. We know that they have made an impact on many of our fellow alumni, so we welcome contributions from other classes but hope to fund the new residence as the Class of 1991. Let’s come together to pursue a good work in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Ambler. You can donate by check or online at udallas.edu/duesanti. Please note with your gift that you are the class of 1991.
Please feel free to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-823-8017; email@example.com, 214-783-7473 or 214-636-8024; firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, 314-406-6548 or 314-805-6997) if you have any questions or suggestions.
We understand the value of the Rome semester. Let’s ensure that it continues to change as many students’ lives as possible. Let’s support Rome.
All the best,
Kathy (Uhl) Milligan
Mary (Bick) Jonz