Ambassador Eisenberg’s Remarks at the Inauguration Ceremony for American Studies

University of Naples L’Orientale
November 15, 2017

(As prepared for delivery)

Thank you, Rector, for welcoming us here today. I greatly appreciate your remarks and the time you took to acquaint me with the history of this prestigious university, and its commitment to supporting the strong cultural ties that exist between our two countries.

As U.S. Ambassador, it’s important for me to visit as many regions in Italy as possible to gain a deeper understanding of this country, which is such a close friend of the United States. Naples is the first city outside of Rome that I am visiting in my official capacity:  and this is entirely appropriate because the first diplomatic seat the U.S. established in Italy was with the Kingdom of Naples in 1796.  My wife and I are delighted to be here.  We look forward to meeting Neapolitans, to admiring your spectacular city, and getting to learn more about your history and culture.

Italy and the United States have had a close and enduring relationship over many, many years. This relationship is built on ties of family, on extensive commercial ties, on a shared history in the liberation of Italy from fascism.  Today our relationship is sustained by our shared interests and shared values.

Our two countries are great partners and can accomplish great things together. We don’t always agree on everything – that is natural because we are two different peoples.  To remain friends and partners, we do need to study and understand each other and where we are coming from.  And that is why American Studies in Italian universities are so important, and why the U.S. Mission is encouraging them.

In 2016, we launched the “American Studies Initiative,” to grant support to new temporary adjunct professorships at eight Italian universities, including Naples L’Orientale.  These grants also include funding for the universities to buy books and other materials to support the adjunct professors’ courses and supplement university libraries.

And this year we were able to find additional resources for two more professorships, bringing the number of Italian universities participating from eight to ten.

I would like to acknowledge our institutional partners in this initiative: the Italian Association for North American Studies and the American Studies Center in Rome.  They both have been instrumental in the planning and execution of this initiative, which was also enthusiastically welcomed by the Italian Ministry of Education.

Our hope was that our temporary support to universities would lead to the establishment of additional American Studies teaching positions. I am very pleased that, as a result of our initiative, the University of Naples L’Orientale is the first to approve a new tenure track position in U.S. History and International Relations.

Congratulations, Rector Morlicchio, on taking a very important step towards the invigoration of American Studies in Italy. We hope that other Italian universities will share your vision and follow your example.

The United States needs close friends and partners, like Italy.  The security and prosperity of our two countries are closely linked.  If we work together, we can better address threats to that security and prosperity, and promote our democratic values.  So we need to preserve and increase our mutual understanding by promoting education and cultural diplomacy. We could not have a better partner in that effort than Naples L’Orientale University.

Thank you very much.