SHU professor honored for dedication to Italian-American community

A Seton Hall professor will be acknowledged by the Columbia Foundation with its Presidential award for his service to Italian-American people.

Professor William Connell, an internationally recognized historian, history professor and holder of the Joseph M. and Geraldine C. La Motta Chair in Italian studies, will be honored on Oct. 22 at the Columbian Foundation’s 70th Annual Columbus Day Humanitarian and Achievement Awards Dinner.

Connell is being honored with the presidential award “in recognition of his service to the Italian-American community and to the Italian people, for his decades of tireless dedication as an educator and author to exalt the appreciation of Italian ethnicity,” according to the Walk Now for Autism Speaks website.

Connell said he is humbled by this recognition.

“They tell me previous honorees have included Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Admiral Hyman Rickover (who created our nuclear submarine fleet) and Luciano Pavarotti,” Connell said. “It’s probably unusual for a college history professor to be included in that sort of company.”

Connell has been a part of many organizations and has many achievements. Connell received his B.A. from Yale University, with summa cum laude honors.

Connell received his Ph.D. in Italian History from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.

Connell was Fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Connell serves on the editorial boards of five academic journals, and has also published seven books, including the Standard English translation of Machiavelli’s “Prince.”

UNICO National also honored Connell during his career with its Mille Grazie Award.

“This really does mean a lot to me.” Connell said. “Since I began teaching Italian History at Seton Hall in 1998 we’ve built a vibrant, interdisciplinary Italian Studies Program on campus, we’ve built a splendid collection of Italian books, the Valente Italian Library, which is the best of its kind in New Jersey.”

According to their web site The Columbian Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping improve the cultural, educational, economic and social welfare of the citizens of New Jersey.

According to a press release, the Columbian Foundation engages in a broad range of philanthropic activities, providing financial support special causes and a variety of institutions and organizations.

From scholarships for students in need and donations to local colleges and universities, hospitals, community groups and charitable organizations, to the support of a broad array of cultural endeavors, the Foundation and its supports have helped enrich the lives of thousands of individuals.

The proceeds from the Columbian Foundations main fundraiser, the Award Extravaganza, help charities including the American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America, Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey, March of Dimes, New Jersey State Opera, Seton Hall University, St. Jude Children Research Hospital and the YMCA.

Jessica Formichella can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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