“Beyond my wildest dreams,” is how CSULB Professor Clorinda Donato describes the creation of the new Clorinda Donato Center for Global Romance Languages and Translation Studies. “It’s proof that it’s important to have dreams. If you never dream, you can’t go beyond your wildest ones.”
The Donato Center, which launched in spring 2017, has the distinction of being the first center in the country dedicated to the research and development of Romance languages and the first center in the California State University (CSU) dedicated to translation studies. A longtime supporter of CSULB’s Italian Studies program, Mario Giannini generously provided the $1.1-million gift that made Professor Donato’s dream a reality. It was Mr. Giannini who chose to name the center in honor of Donato, a professor of French and Italian and the George L. Graziadio Chair of Italian Studies. Friends since their high school days, Mr. Giannini and Professor Donato share an abiding passion for the study of languages, literatures, and cultures, as well as a profound appreciation for the mission of the California State University.
“I’m a graduate of the CSU system and have always considered the college education I got from that system to have been one of the most important experiences of my life,” says Mr. Giannini, who credits his CSUN professors with providing the guidance and example that helped set him on a path toward academic and professional success. “I wish people knew that choosing where to go to school is about choosing the people that will create who you become.”
This view is what led Mr. Giannini to name the center after his dear friend, an award-winning educator and author who was a driving force behind the creation of CSULB’s George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies and the innovative NEH-funded project “French and Italian for Spanish Speakers,” which has become a national model for multilingual communication and language acquisition.
It was important to Mr. Giannini that the center serve not only as a hub for the advancement of multilingual and multicultural learning but also as a source of perpetual inspiration for students and professors. And what better way to inspire current and future generations, reasoned Mr. Giannini, than to give the center a name that is internationally associated with excellence in language and cultural studies. “Dr. Donato embodies the center’s ideals and vision,” explains Mr. Giannini. “She is a living example of what the center is meant to be.”
A grateful Professor Donato responds, “I see this naming as a way of honoring all professors in the CSU,” adding that she is excited about Mr. Giannini’s vision for the Clorinda Donato Center for Global Romance Languages and Translation Studies. “He knows from firsthand experience that the ability to understand the world through language study is a tremendous advantage in the workplace.” The two old friends agree that the study of languages and cultures broadens perspectives, and this, in turn, leads to more satisfying and productive interactions with other people.
“Having a center like this sends a message that these topics are important,” notes Professor Donato. “We can all be proud that, thanks to Mr. Giannini’s commitment, there is now a permanent presence for multilingual study and translation at CSULB and the CSU. I look forward to our future!”