"Il Tempo" Interviews President Pavoncello

Rome-based Italian daily newspaper Il Tempo interviewed John Cabot University President Franco Pavoncello in the aftermath of the death of visiting student Beau Solomon. Read the article (in Italian)

The following is a translation of the article.

Interview with Franco Pavoncello, President of the Trastevere-based university where the young American who was killed had just arrived

Students Come to John Cabot to Study, Not to Get Drunk or Take Drugs

by Maurizio Gallo

“John Cabot University is not a breeding ground for people who get drunk, or a place to party. It is a serious, prestigious university that welcomes students from 60 different countries, whose enrollment has been growing steadily.” These are the words of President Franco Pavoncello, in defense of the university where Beau Solomon, the 19-year-old who lost his life in Rome on Friday, had just arrived. The first and only Italian president of an American university, Pavoncello has led JCU for the past 11 years.

President, are you concerned about a possible drop in enrollment after this terrible story?
Our reputation has been growing steadily in the United States. In the past year we have gone from 1,050 to 1,300 students. This number decreases during the summer, when about 200 students enroll. In the past 10 years our student numbers have doubled. We have 100 faculty members, including 30 full-time professors. We offer 300 courses per semester and 14 majors, and we have two residences for our students.

So John Cabot is not a place to take a vacation . . .
Students come here to study, not to drink alcohol or take drugs, because we are very strict so those who don’t study fail. For this reason, too much nightlife is not a good idea. I want to emphasize that the vast majority of American students work very hard, are ambitious, sensible, and are not victims of a sort of “Saturday night fever.”

Is tuition very high?
Tuition is $20,000 per year, not too much by American standards. But enough for students not to come here and waste money needlessly. Students come to JCU in view of a future career. We are building an international network and a bridge between Italy and the United States.

Do you warn your students about the dangers of the city and its nightlife? 
We do indeed! We tell them what things and places to stay away from, how to behave, and we advise them to avoid being alone, to travel in groups, if possible. Each semester we have three days of orientation, often with the participation of the American consul. Parents know how much attention we pay to the wellbeing and safety of their children.

What was Beau Solomon like?
A very serious student, he wanted to study law and go into politics. The other night he went out to get to know his new roommates, and then they found him in the Tiber River.

Do you agree that the Trastevere neighborhood has become too violent?
If you are alert and respect the rules, it’s unlikely that something bad will happen to you. But although Rome is pretty safe, it’s a big city. It’s not Disneyland . . .