In Rome, it’s the start of Trustees’ Week at the Academy. And one of the most important items on the AAR community’s agenda is to celebrate Pina Pasquantonio, who now marks her 25th year on the staff of the American Academy.
Pina, who holds the title of Assistant Director of Operations, has had a unique and extraordinary effect on the life of every Fellow and Resident since 1984.
That is saying a lot, especially since fully half of the 1700+ individuals who have held a Rome Prize Fellowship or Residency at the AAR since its founding in 1894 have done so in the last quarter century.
When one adds in all the persons other than Rome Prize winners and Residents who comprise the AAR community—the Trustees, Affiliated Fellows, the Visiting Artists and Scholars, and the Fellow Travelers and family members—a conservative guess puts the number of folks at well over 10,000 who have directly depended on Pina Pasquantonio to facilitate their stay, study and work.
“I am committed to keeping the doors to my office open and to being available,” Pina told the SOF News in 2004. That’s a very modest self-description of how she approaches her role.
As a measure of Pina’s enormous impact on the creative life of the AAR, consider the fact that authors in dozens of books over the past couple of decades have acknowledged her help in the most glowing of terms. Reads one typical Foreward: “All of the members of the [AAR] staff are courteous and helpful, and I especially single out the assistant director, Pina Pasquantonio, who can do, and does everything.” A list (inevitably quite incomplete) of authors who have thanked Pina Pasquantonio in print follows at the end of this post.
“Mention her name to anyone who has spent time at the Academy,” says new SOF President Drew Beattie FAAR’95, “and the praise and gratitude, the sense of real friendship, is instantaneous…The institution can brag about an amazing history, a thrillingly beautiful building and grounds for the housing of American scholarship and creativity. But Pina Pasquantonio is a huge part of what is at the heart of the place, the sense of welcoming and facilitating the extraordinary plans of those newly arrived to realize their work in a life-altering environment.”
Indeed, in any number of ways, Pina has defined a generation of life of the Academy—with many more years, one hopes, to come in the ‘Saeculum Pasquantonianum’.