Vice Provost and Chief International Officer Michael Benedik (left) met with Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy Mayor Mario Agnelli. (Texas A&M Provost)
By Brandon V. Webb, Texas A&M University Office of the Provost
The commitment to offer Texas A&M University students educational and cultural experiences abroad remains a top priority. Aggies have been gaining international experiences in Italy for more than three decades at the 500-year-old ex-convent and chapel of Santa Chiara in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy. Renowned for its walls and beauty, the medieval town is located between Arezzo and Cortona in Tuscany.
On a visit to Castiglion Fiorentino this fall, Vice Provost and Chief International Officer Michael Benedik led a team of administrators from Texas A&M through successful partnership discussions with local Mayor Mario Agnelli and the international service provider Italart, which has organized and led cultural experiences in Italy since the early 1980s.
“We look forward to continuing our partnerships with new agreements that will be beneficial to everyone,” Benedik said. “I was impressed by the hospitality of the people of Castiglion Fiorentino and the warmth and welcome they give to our students.”
Mayor Agnelli expressed the mutual respect and spirit of collaboration that continues between his city and Texas A&M after three decades of study abroad visits by A&M students.
“The positive experience American students have brought to the community of Castiglion Fiorentino is now part of our story, yesterday, today and tomorrow,” Agnelli said.
Having facilitated faculty-led study abroad courses at Castiglion Fiorentino for decades, Italart was uniquely positioned to broker the recent agreements. Although the convent and chapel on the grounds owned by the municipality of Castiglion Fiorentino and rented to Italart are temporarily closed in order to bring them up to new earthquake compliance standards, our programs in Castiglion Fiorentino continue uninterrupted.
The five year partnership gives the university preferred rates and scheduling for students. A&M will provide financial support for facilities assessments and program enhancements at the facility. Italart will temporarily transition the international experience from the convent to the Hotel Park in Castiglion Fiorentino while new building codes are implemented and structural improvements are planned and executed.