Chapman University - An event of historical significance and Italian pride filled the Leatherby Libraries Malloy Performance Portico during a special reception at Chapman University where a rare and valuable book about Christopher Columbus written in authentic old world script and entitled "Colombo" was donated to the Italian Heritage Archives of the Leatherby Libraries at Chapman University.
Approximately 60 people came to celebrate the establishment of the new Italian Heritage Archive and the arrival of the historic book which was delivered by Dr. John L. LaCorte, son of the late John N. La Corte who founded the national Italian Historical Society of America in May 1949 in New York.
The event also commemorated the 150th Anniversary of Italian Unification and the many contributions of Italian Americans to the advancement of society. Coincidentally, the occasion celebrated the 150th anniversary of Chapman University, founded the same month and year as the Italian Unification. Chapman University President James L. Doti who is celebrating his 20th year as the 12th president and first president of Italian descent and is also a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2007 expressed much delight in the Library's developing Italian collection and archive.
President Doti gratefully acknowledged Frank J. DeSantis for instigating the establishment of the Italian Heritage Archive and for John L. LaCorte's contribution of the rare book. Doti expressed his appreciation for the addition to the collection which, he said, fulfills the goals of preserving rare and special collections dedicated to Italian Studies.
"This is just the beginning," said Frank DeSantis, President of the Italian Arts Council at Bowers Museum, Past National President of the Order Sons of Italy in America and recipient of the prestigious Merit of Commendatore from the Italian government, in his speech at the reception.
"I plan to pursue the development of the Italian Heritage Archive with donations from individuals and organizations. The new Italian Archive is of great value to Italian Americans in Orange County as a place to preserve historical records of achievements here and be recognized throughout our country.
Our history will now be obtainable to inspire future generations and researchers in our community," he said.
Charlene Baldwin, Dean of the Leatherby Libraries, explained that the Libraries are the intellectual center of the campus, the focal point for collaboration, contemplation and multi-disciplinary connections with state of the art equipment and large group study rooms for each of the nine libraries. The Archive Group Study Room will have descriptive plaques that explain the significance of the Italian Heritage Library and Archive and the visionary people who have supported Italian-American Heritage and support for the Leatherby Libraries at Chapman University.
For the Italian Heritage Library, she plans locked glass book shelving to showcase important works in the Italian Heritage Library, such as "Colombo" and a locked cabinet to display items from the Archive.
During the reception John L. LaCorte discussed his father's pioneering legacy and showed attendees a clip from a biographical documentary about his father's mission to counter all negative stereotypes that came to be associated with Italians. The senior LaCorte was able to convince the United States government to acknowledge the significant contributions to Western Civilization of Italian Americans which had been mistakenly given to others.
The video showed his accomplishments and his drive to have monuments made for Italians of major significance be placed in the Department of Justice and Battery Park at the tip of lower Manhattan. He pursued over many years to name the bridge that connects Brooklyn and Staten Island the Verrazano- Narrows Bridge after the famous Italian navigator.
John N. LaCorte achieved much success through the formation of the Italian American Historical Society, in Brooklyn, New York, which remains active with his son, John L. LaCorte, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at California State University Dominguez Hills, CA as president and executive director. (More info at www.italianhistorical.org).
In his speech, Dr. LaCorte acknowledged the goals of the Leatherby Libraries Italian Heritage Archive as similar to the theme of his late father's Society; "Inspiration through Example" and added that his father would have been very pleased about the donation.
Dr. Doti noting the strong Italian influence at Chapman University invited the Chairman of the Board Mr. Don Sodaro, also of Italian descent, to propose a toast for the group of mainly Italian Americans. With a glass of Prosecco in hand, the group toasted "to the success of the Italian Heritage Archive at the Leatherby Libraries and to the increased study of Italian and Italian-American Art, History, Culture at Chapman University."
Mayor of Orange, Carolyn Cavecche, expressed much appreciation on behalf of the City of Orange for the many significant activities and contributions of the local Italian American organizations that have resulted in the everlasting betterment of the community over the last three decades.
A self-described Italian by marriage, the Mayor said she personally attests to the positive impact that the Italian American organizations have provided in Orange having worked closely with its primary organizer, Frank DeSantis, to meet her aspirations and goals for the City. "You have always enhanced the cultural aspects of our City and made it a better place," she said.
Attendees were given a folder of informational materials describing The Archives, the history of Chapman University and several descriptions of its libraries, a 150 Year Anniversary pin and a flyer about the Italian language classes, club and Italian Cultural Events held at Chapman University. President Doti pointed out that Chapman University also has it own recently built, beautiful Italian Piazza in the heart of the campus built for the students and community to enjoy.
In addition to those previously mentioned, distinguished guests in attendance from the Italian American community, as introduced by Frank DeSantis, were Massimo Sarti, of the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles representing the Italian Consulate and Italian government; prominent members of the Order Sons of Italy and Italian American community: Dr. Guy Biagiotti; Frank and Eileen DeSantis, Kathy DeSantis, Jeannie DeSantis Poremba and Dean Poremba, Al and Carmela Licata (charter members and brother of Sons of Italy Renaissance Lodge founder Vincent Licata) and their son Paul; Pete and Pat Dito, Al Chiechi (charter member of Sons of Italy Renaissance Lodge), Vince Ferragamo, Nina LoMonaco- Perez, (editor of the Renaissance Lodge newspaper), John Russo, Ph.D., (charter member), Jean Andreoni, Asst. Professor of Italian Dr. Robert Buranello, Asst. Professor of Italian Language, Angela Tumini, Dean of the Wilkinson College Patrick Quinn, Mary Lou Jeffries, Lauren Rhodes (Salvatori Scholarship recipient), David Prisco (past state president, Order Sons of Italy and Renaissance Lodge), Joseph LaBanca, (immediate past state president, Order Sons of Italy), A.J. Tony Coco (former mayor of Tustin) and Vicki Carabini, Ambassador for the City of Capistrano, Italy.
Others in attendance were Chairman of the Board Don Sodaro's wife and daughter and officials of Chapman.
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