Rome campus a springboard to research and engagement

ACU’s Rome Campus (Campus di Roma) has been officially opened in a ceremony that celebrated the success and vision of the university’s presence in Europe.

In 2016, the university first established its presence in Rome through a partnership with the Catholic University of America, sharing a campus in Italy’s capital. Since then, ACU moved to a new location in Monteverde where the campus has flourished with academic activity, international research collaboration with Catholic, state and other faith-based institutions, and global education opportunities for students.

With the re-opening of international borders earlier this year, the campus has been filled with students and staff attending study blocks, semester programs, research symposia and seminars, and professional development programs for external agencies and partner universities.

During 2022, the Rome Campus hosted nearly 70 events, including courses, conferences, public lectures and research seminars. Two new internships were launched: one in collaboration with the Australian Embassy to the Holy See; the other with the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. ACU also hosted recipients of the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students.

Partnerships and collaborations, such as the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Universities (SACRU), position ACU and its partners to contribute meaningfully to exploring solutions for some of the more significant challenges facing the world. SACRU, for example, presented research-based recommendations ahead of the COP 27 environmental talks in Egypt, and partnered with the United Nations Food Agency to address the world’s food and health inequalities.

Attending the campus opening on Thursday 15 December were international diplomats, senior Church leaders, guests from partner organisations and representatives of the university. These included Her Excellency Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See; Her Excellency Margaret Twomey, Australian Ambassador  to Italy; Archbishop Paul Gallagher Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See’s Secretariat of State; Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education; members of Pontifical and Catholic universities in Rome; ACU Chancellor the Hon. Martin Daubney AM KC, Pro-Chancellor Virginia Bourke; and Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Zlatko Skrbis – who also holds the current presidency of SACRU.

During the opening, Professor Skrbis remarked on the valuable relationships that had allowed the university to realise its vision and mission.

“From the very beginning, ACU has been focused on developing partnerships and collaborative linkages with other institutions in Rome and beyond, and it has been with this focus that we have grown our presence here.  

“As a university that is guided by its Catholic mission, it is incredibly important and fitting that ACU has a presence here Rome, at a very heart of the Church, so that we can engage fully with that mission.

“We are very proud of our growth since our first foray here in Rome, and we look forward with keen anticipation to further growth and many more successes.”

Chancellor Daubney continued with the theme of friendship and allegiance that had been extended to ACU as it has established itself in Rome. 

“ACU’s Rome Campus is crucial to our institution as a Catholic university, and central to our international strategy, which is consistent with our pursuit of excellence in teaching, research and engagement, and our efforts to continue to strengthen our relationship with the Church.

“While ACU is relatively young as far as Catholic institutions go, the success we have achieved is significant, and the Rome Campus serves as a symbol of that success.”

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Her Excellency Chiara Porro, said the university’s presence played an important role for international education: “Australian Catholic University’s new Rome campus is an example of the quality, innovativeness, and global outlook of the Australian higher education sector. It enables Australian students to tap into the rich history and culture of Rome and its global networks, as well as act as a hub for academic excellence and research. It is an opportunity to showcase Australia, our values and our future generations.”

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