John Cabot University Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Celebrations

John Cabot University kicked off its 50th anniversary celebrations with an Opening Concert held at the prestigious Palazzo della Cancelleria on September 30, 2022, and the President’s Gala, held at the Hassler Hotel on October 1, 2022. Both events were part of JCU’s 2022 Alumni Reunion.

Leo Gassman at JCU's Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration

Leo Gassman

The Fiftieth Anniversary Concert
The concert began with a performance by The John Cabot Chamber Orchestra with a program featuring works by Mozart and Gershwin, with Alessandro Buccarella as guest conductor and soloists Luca Sanzò (viola) and Mirei Yamada (violin). The orchestra was founded in 2005 under the artistic direction of Giorgia Franceschi with the intent to create a string orchestra open to amateur and professional musicians of diverse ages and backgrounds. Since 2016, the orchestra has been under the artistic direction of Adriano Ancarani.

Then, alumnus Leo Gassman, who graduated from JCU in 2022 with a major in Communications, gave his performance. Leo is a talented singer and songwriter who won in the category of Nuove Proposte at the 2020 Festival di Sanremo. He sang songs from his first studio album Strike as well as several new songs. “I am very honored to be here celebrating JCU,” said Leo, who thanked JCU President Franco Pavoncello for the invitation. “As this year marks an outstanding milestone in the history of our institution, we aim to showcase the many achievements of faculty, staff, students, and alumni while highlighting our openness and commitment to diversity and community engagement. This is an extraordinary opportunity to remember and commemorate the evolving history of JCU,” said JCU President Franco Pavoncello.

The President’s Gala
The annual President’s Gala was held for the first time since 2019, after being canceled for two years due to the pandemic. The Gala is a celebration of John Cabot University’s achievements and a way to support the growth of JCU. This year, the President’s Gala saw the participation of Salvatore Salibello, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Vice Chairs Portia Prebys and Frank Desiderio, the Board of Trustees, and the President of the Alumni Association Francesco Ruspoli, among other guests.

“We are celebrating 50 years of growth and success, of challenging times, of marvelous achievements. But most of all we celebrate 50 years of education, in the spirit of the American liberal arts tradition, for thousands of women and men from the four corners of the world who have made us proud with their successes and their commitment to the building of a better future,” said President Pavoncello.

Francesco Ruspoli, Daryush Arabnia, President Franco Pavoncello

From left: Francesco Ruspoli, Daryush Arabnia, President Franco Pavoncello

Distinguished Alumni Awards
During the President’s Gala, the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards were conferred upon Daryush Arabnia (Class of 2008) and Anna Bottinelli (Class of 2010). After graduating from JCU with a B.A. in Business Administration, Daryush earned an MBA from Bocconi University in 2013. He started working at Geico as a project manager in 2009, and in 2020 he became Chairman, President, and CEO of the Geico Taikisha group, positions previously held by his father, Dr. Ali Reza Arabnia, also a JCU alumnus (class of 1983) and beloved Trustee of the University. In 2020, Daryush was also elected President of UCIF (Unione Costruttori Impianti di Finitura), the Italian association of producers of automobile finishing plants. Founded in 1973, the group represents 50% of Italy’s production of machines and systems dedicated to car finishing processes.

Anna Bottinelli

Anna Bottinelli

Anna Bottinelli received her B.A. in Art History from JCU, graduating magna cum laude. She later received her M.A. in Art History at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Anna then served as lead Italian Researcher to Robert Edsel on his New York Times bestseller, “Saving Italy: The Race to Save a Nation’s Treasure from the Nazis.” In 2014, Anna accepted a full-time research position with the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, in Dallas, Texas. By 2017, she had advanced to senior leadership positions and in 2019, she was appointed as the Foundation’s new President, succeeding its founder, Mr. Edsel. During her tenure at the Foundation, Anna has overseen numerous restitutions of cultural objects to individuals and museums in Europe. She has also served as a consultant for “Hunting Nazi Treasure,” an eight-part investigative documentary series produced by Saloon Media in 2017.

“The success of our University would not have been possible without the support of our great benefactors, from the Frohring Family and Foundation to Congressman Frank J. Guarini, and all of our other generous Trustees who sit with us tonight and who bless our school with their reputation, care, and valuable insight. Our community thanks you all,” said President Pavoncello.