The George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies at California State University, Long Beach is committed to offering outstanding programs in Italian language, literature and culture to prepare students for careers in the global arena where strong skills in Italian Studies are an asset for professional success. Founded through an Italian-American Community and University partnership, the George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies is equally committed to serving the cultural goals of these communities through events that present and interpret Italian and Italian-American culture.
George L. and Reva Graziadio spent the 59 years of their life together building one of the most dynamic names and reputations in philanthropy today. The Graziadio name is recognized far and wide for the generosity and warmth of spirit of the two people, who tirelessly worked together to promote the causes in which they believed and to celebrate the achievements of those they empowered through their gifts.
The South Bay region of Southern California has been particularly fortunate to have been home to this community-minded couple who invested in the same community where their days of prosperity began. George L. Graziadio, in partnership with George Eltinge, founded and opened the first Imperial Bank in Los Angeles in 1963. Imperial Bank was acquired by Comerica Bank in 2001 and George Graziadio served as Chairman of Comerica Bank-California until his passing in 2002.
George and Reva Graziadio brought The Italian Chair Campaign at CSULB to fruition in 1997 with a generous naming gift and founded The George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies in 1998. Their contribution, together with the community monies and matching funds from the University, made the CSULB Italian Chair Campaign a model of community-university collaboration benefitting students through the establishment of degree and credential programs.
Reva Graziadio became a fervent advocate of Italian language, literature and culture through scholarships fostering study abroad for CSULB students. She enjoyed attending the scholarship banquet every year and talking to the students about their academic accomplishments. She had an intimate knowledge of what inspires students to pursue the humanities and the arts, for she herself appreciated the singular ability of poetry to capture a poignant moment or a profound sentiment through the many poems she wrote for her family and friends. This body of work remains as a cherished legacy of Reva’s warmth and friendship.
The George L. Graziadio Center for Italian Studies is a tangible expression of George and Reva Graziadio’s uniquely philanthropic educational vision and their commitment to Italian Studies as a global resource in all professional endeavors.
THE PRESENT & FUTURE
The George L. Graziadio Center of Italian Studies has become a landmark in California Italian Studies education. With a thriving BA program in Italian Studies, the subject matter program for the teaching credential in Italian, the establishment of the annual Frank J. De Santis Lectureship on Italian-American issues and plans for the Master of Arts degree in Italian Studies, the George L. Graziadio Center represents the future. The Center’s continuing relationship with the community will ensure the permanence and future growth of our presence.
In 2010 Dr. Clorinda Donato was appointed The George L. Graziadio Chair of Italian Studies. Together with Dean Gerry Riposa, Assistant Professor Enrico Vettore, Community and Italian government leaders, she has begun crafting the plan for the future of The George L. Graziadio Center over the coming years. Plans include expanding curricular and degree offerings; creating study and internship abroad programs for students; and augmenting the corps of Italian teachers and professionals who require the expertise that only The George L. Graziadio Center at California State University, Long Beach can offer.
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