The Center for Italian Studies celebrated its 25th anniversary with a festive celebration at Flowerfield in St. James on March 29. More than 230 attendees gathered to extend congratulations and support to the Center, and also honored Commendatore Peter S. Kalikow, President of H.J. Kalikow LLC, and New York State Senator Kenneth P. La Valle. Both men have addressed educational and cultural concerns, and have included Italian and Italian American Studies in their public service and philanthropic agendas.
Richard Nasti, Chair of the Center for Italian Studies Advisory Council, was the master of ceremonies for the evening, and announced that the occasion had raised $154,000 to support the programs and activities of the Center.
Stony Brook President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., whose welcoming remarks followed this announcement, praised the achievements of the Center, and particularly complimented Nasti for his service to the University as an alumnus, as past chair of the Stony Brook Council, as a current member of the Stony Brook Foundation, and for “being the force that really put this celebration together.” The President thanked Professor Mario Mignone, the Center’s director, for his outstanding leadership throughout its 25-year history.
Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato and Ambassador Charles Gargano were Celebration co-chairs. Their speeches enlightened the audience with memories of “growing up Italian” and their association with both the University and the Center.
Throughout the evening Mignone’s commentary, a running pictorial history of the Center’s events and accomplishments, was screened for viewing by all tables and helped him make a sentimental and meaningful presentation that truly conveyed his passion for and dedication to the Center.
Nasti paid tribute to the honorees. Kalikow, well known for his business acumen in real estate, has helped shape the Manhattan skyline. At the same time, he has engaged selflessly in public service, most recently as the seven-year chair of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Equally well known for his philanthropy and especially for his generous support of Italian initiatives, the Italian Government in 2008 bestowed upon him the highest decoration of Commendatore in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
Senator La Valle was not able to attend since he had to remain in Albany during critical budget negotiations, but he was recognized for his tireless support of public higher education in New York State and his fierce loyalty to Stony Brook; for the seed funding he secured from a legislative grant that helped launch the Center for Italian Studies 25 years ago, and his ongoing generous support and care in promoting and keeping the Center viable both as a community and campus resource ever since.
Please visit www.italianstudies.org for full coverage of the event and for more information about the Center.