Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini to be Commencement Speaker 2016

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It is a great privilege for John Cabot University to welcome Hon. Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, as this year’s Commencement Speaker. Born in Ferrara in 1958, Franceschini is a leading figure of the Democratic Party.

Dario Franceschini

Dario Franceschini

A civil lawyer by training, Franceschini has also served as an attorney accredited to appear before the “Corte di Cassazione” (High Court of Appeals). From 1999 to 2001, he was Undersecretary to the President of the Council of Ministers and since 2001 he has been a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

Formerly secretary of the Democratic Party, in 2013 he served as Minister of Relations with Parliament during the government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta. Since being appointed Minister of Cultural Heritage and Tourism in February 2014 by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Franceschini has put in place innovative ways to promote the cultural assets of Italy, which boasts more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country.

Under Franceschini’s tenure, Italy held its first-ever international search for the directors of 20 of the country’s leading museums. The search drew over 1,200 candidates from all over the world, with the end result that 7 out of 20 of these institutions are now headed by foreigners.

In 2014, Franceschini launched the “Art Bonus” tax break for patrons of Italian culture. Inspired by the American tradition of providing fiscal rewards for philanthropy, it is a tax initiative aimed at increasing private funding to the arts.

Franceschini is also the author of several novels.

Minister Franceschini will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Italian democratic life and his commitment to the promotion of the country’s artistic patrimony.

Honorary Degree Recipient: Mr. Roberto E. Wirth

John Cabot University will have the honor of granting an honorary degree in Humane Letters to Roberto E. Wirth, President and General Manager of the famed Hotel Hassler in Rome, overlooking the Spanish Steps. Born in Rome in 1950, Wirth is the only known deaf person in the world to head a world-famous five-star hotel.

Although his family has been in the luxury hospitality business for almost two centuries, Wirth had to earn the right to manage the family business. He tells his extraordinary story in the autobiography ll silenzio è stato il mio primo compagno di giochi (“Silence Was My First Playmate”), published in 2015 by Newton Compton.

Roberto E. Wirth

Roberto E. Wirth

He is the founder and president of CABSS, Centro Assistenza per Bambini Sordi e Sordociechi Onlus (Assistance Center for Deaf and Deafblind Children), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting deaf and deafblind children, and their families. The association focuses in particular on children from birth to six years and works with projects that promote an adequate cognitive, emotional, social, linguistic and communicative development, which allows children to fully express their personality. Moreover, CABSS, in collaboration with the Italian Fulbright Commission, provides scholarships to deaf students to attend Gallaudet University, USA.

Wirth received a B.Sc. degree at Cornell University’s “School of Hotel Administration” (Ithaca, New York) as well as Honorary Doctorates in Humane Letters both from Lynn University (Boca Raton, Florida) in May 2006 and from Gallaudet University, in Washington, DC in May 2009. He is also one of the 8 deaf recipients of the DeafNation Inspiration Award (for Hotel Hospitality) in August 2012 in Las Vegas. In 2014 he was awarded the “Leading Legend Award” by The Leading Hotels of the World, for his commitment to the art of independent hospitality.

The degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa will be conferred upon Roberto E. Wirth in recognition of his exceptional entrepreneurial achievements and philanthropic dedication.