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Service group promotes study of Italian-American history (Released: 6/23/97)

STORRS, Conn. -- A permanently endowed fellowship in Italian-American history at the University of Connecticut has received major support from UNICO National, the nation’s largest Italian-American service club.

The Aldo DeDominicis Graduate Fellowship in Italian-American History, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will enable young scholars of outstanding ability to embark on research toward a Ph.D., while promoting interest in the cultural and historical heritage of Americans of Italian descent and helping to reconstruct the historical experience of the Italian-American communities in the United States.

UNICO National — under the leadership of its past president, Frank G. Cannata of Glastonbury — has initiated a campaign to fund the graduate fellowship in an effort to promote and encourage the study of Italian-Americans’ contributions to both Italian and American culture and society, and to establish links between the heritage of Americans of Italian descent and the events of modern Italian history. UNICO National, headquartered in Bloomfield, NJ, has also supported endowed faculty positions at Seton Hall and the University of California.

The goal of the fund-raising campaign is $300,000, half of which may come from matching funds provided by the State of Connecticut under the UConn 2000 program. To date, the group has raised more than $100,000 toward the fellowship endowment from businesses and individuals throughout Connecticut.

The fellowship is named for the founder of New England’s first commercial television station, Aldo DeDominicis. In 1948 DeDominicis, a native of Italy, financed and built what is now WTNH-TV 8 in New Haven. He also co-founded several radio stations — both AM and FM — in Connecticut. The Aldo DeDominicis Foundation, established by DeDominicis in order to support a variety of educational and charitable causes, made the lead gift for the creation of the DeDominicis Fellowship.

The University of Connecticut has a strong program in Italian studies, including the Emiliana Pasca Noether Chair of Modern Italian History, the first chair outside Italy that is dedicated to research and teaching in modern Italian history. Established in 1992, the chair has gained a reputation as the leading source for the advanced study of modern Italy in this country.

The program provides graduate and undergraduate teaching programs and has initiated a number of major research ventures, including an oral history project on memories of World War II among the Italian-American communities of Connecticut and a major international conference on the United States and the liberation of Southern Italy after World War II. The chair is held by John A. Davis, a noted scholar and editor of The Journal of Modern Italian History, the first English language journal to be devoted exclusively to the study of modern and contemporary Italian history, politics, society and culture. UNICO National was also a major contributor to the Noether Chair.

UNICO was first organized in 1922 in Waterbury, Connecticut. A similar organization, unknown to the Waterbury group, was formed in the Midwest in 1931. In 1947, the two groups merged, creating UNICO National.

The Aldo DeDominicis Graduate Fellowship in Italian-American History Fund is housed at The University of Connecticut Foundation Inc. Gifts in support of the DeDominicis Fellowship may be made payable to the Foundation and sent to Al Carrano, Associate Director of Major Gifts, University of Connecticut, at 233 Glenbrook Road U-201, Storrs, CT 06268. For more information, call (800) 269-9965.

The University of Connecticut Foundation Inc. is a private, tax-exempt corporation which secures contributions from private sources and then manages those funds for maximum benefit to the University. It has assets of $100 million managed through over 1,700 funds and is governed by a volunteer board of directors.