Letter from the Director

M.A. in Political Science, European Union Policy Studies

Dear EUPS Alumni and Friends,

On October 20th, we held our first in-person alumni gathering since February 27, 2020. The recent October gathering gave us an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions that Silvio Gonzato and Alexandre Stutzmann have made over the years as practitioners willing to volunteer their time to work with our students and graduates. In the process of celebrating Alex & Silvio, they praised the sense of family that Caterina Paolucci and my predecessors – Jessica Adolino and John Scherpereel – have taken great care in building over the years. As I wrote in this newsletter upon becoming the program’s third director in 2020, it is precisely this sense of community that attracted me to join the faculty in 2016.

From its inaugural class in the 2007-2008 academic year to the present, the EUPS alumni group now numbers over 200. As we make plans to celebrate the program’s 15th anniversary in spring 2023, we do so with our thoughts focused on how to create a more flexible means to convene our graduates more frequently back to Florence. While all of our graduates are always encouraged to come by the Palazzo Capponi whenever their travels bring them back to Florence, we want to create a standing system in which people can get used to thinking about a return to Florence as a concrete possibility every May.

Beginning with Friday May 12th, 2023, we want our entire community to count on our program holding an annual Alumni Day for all of our laureati on the second Friday of May each year. Mid-afternoon on that Friday, we want to hold one or more career discussions in which our graduates share their experiences with our current students. Then, in the early evening (likely beginning around 7pm or 7:30pm), our program will sponsor an aperitivo at which our graduates, our current students, our faculty & staff, and other program allies can gather to share cherished memories and to make some new memories. 

We hope that holding an annual Alumni Day can achieve two useful purposes. First, it can help bring our current students face to face with more program graduates during their studies in Florence. Second, it can provide a rallying point for all of our program graduates as a standing, annual invitation to return to Florence.

Beyond building bridges to bring alumni back to Florence, we have also been considering how to better publicize the many interesting things being done daily by our alumni community. The private group on LinkedIn continues to serve us well as a place to share opportunities to group members. But, as the world and our program develop more power users of LinkedIn, we feel that it is important to have a public-facing page for our graduate program, as well. Accordingly, we have recently launched a public program page on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/james-madison-university-florence/. We encourage you to follow this page, thereby indirectly tying your LinkedIn profile and activity to this program and vice versa.

In December 2022 we will launch a delayed expansion of our program’s Alumni Board and of our other alumni engagement opportunities – including career conversations with current students, conversations with prospective students, and social & professional interactions with fellow program graduates. Expect to receive a brief online survey regarding these activities (and the12-MAY-2023 aperitivo). It should arrive in your inbox on Monday December 5, 2022. 

If you don’t receive that e-mail on the 5th, it means that our e-mail address for you is out of date. For example, if you had listed your @dukes.jmu.edu e-mail as your primary address, but then the password lapsed, then that e-mail address is now invalid. If you don’t receive an e-mail on 5-DEC-2022, please e-mail me at blakech@jmu.edu so that I can make certain that we use your preferred e-mail address in contacting you.

We have spent the past several weeks in advanced planning for the 12-MAY-2023 career talks and aperitivo. It has been fun writing this director’s letter as another step toward bringing these ideas to life. I look forward to seeing you in Florence next May – and in future second Fridays in May, as well.

Cordiali saluti,

Charles Blake

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Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2024

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