Tomaso Montanari is the new rector of the University for Foreigners of Siena

Art historian Tomaso Montanari has been elected rector of Siena University for Foreigners in the first round. He will lead it during the period 2021-2027.

Art historian, essayist and television personality Tomaso Montanari has been elected rector of theUniversity for Foreigners of Siena, where he has been professor of History of Modern Art for several years. Montanari, who will lead the university for the 2021-2027 term and take office on Oct. 9, was elected in the first round, obtaining 87 percent of the vote. The election saw a very high turnout (about 90 percent of those eligible, namely first- and second-rank professors, permanent and fixed-term researchers, stabilized tenured faculty, and, in a weighted percentage, technical-administrative staff, linguistic expert collaborators, Italian language teachers, assignees, PhD students, and all enrolled students).

Montanari, a Florentine born in 1971, before teaching in Siena, where he is a full professor, had been a professor of Modern Art History at the University of Naples Federico II, the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the University of Tuscia. He is also chairman of the Technical Scientific Committee for Fine Arts of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, and a member of the Higher Council of Cultural Heritage. He is also a member of the scientific committees of the Uffizi in Florence, and the Girolamini in Naples, as well as honorary president of the Istituto Italiano di Studi Filosofici in Naples, and a corresponding member of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti. Marina Benedetti, Dean of Professors I fascia and Chair of the Electoral Board, said, “Tomaso Montanari, professor of History of Modern Art, was elected Rector of the University for Foreigners of Siena for the sexennium 2021 - 2027. The voting procedure took place online, through u-Vote (Cineca’s electronic voting system) and saw a high participation (almost 90 percent of the votes cast). Prof. Montanari was elected in the first round, with a percentage of about 87 percent of the votes cast.”

“The large number of votes cast,” said outgoing Rector Pietro Cataldi, “is an element of particular interest, given the so characterized profile of the candidate, whose rectoral program invited us to measure ourselves with the great cultural and civil issues of the present; and this wide adhesion testifies to the strength of a community and its deep cohesion, one of the most precious results for me in these years.”

“At the end of this magnificent day,” said Montanari, “I thank, with great emotion, all and everyone who participated in the vote: truly so many, a sign of a desire to ’be there’ that is the best guarantee of a ’collective’ government. I will devote all my strength to trying not to disappoint those who decided to place their trust in me. I know that we will share the toil of each day: my commitment is so that the joy will also be shared. Shared with everyone, with every member of our community: those who study, those who teach, those who work. La Stranieri continues its story of knowledge and inclusion: in Siena and in the world. Together we will build a university (and, we hope, a society) even more friendly to differences, even more committed against inequalities.”

Montanari’s program consists of 12 points: Governance and Service; An Idea of University; Foreigners: Siena, Italy, Europe, World; Language and Culture; Faculty; Students; Administrative and Technical Staff; Funding; Facilities; Research; Teaching; Third Mission. In the program, Montanari states that he wants to disrupt the current “paleo-corporate” form of the university by constituting an alternative model, with a “government from thebeginning visibly plural, collegial and equal in gender, and founded on a Humboldtian idea of the university, that is, founded ”on academic freedom, on community self-government, and above all on the indissoluble unity of teaching and research.“ A different university: this is what Montanari aspires to, that is, a university that ”while adapting (admittedly too surrenderedly) to all this, nevertheless endures as a community of knowledge. As a community of equals (teachers and students) in the dignity of research, and in the construction of knowledge. A place for the transmission of critical knowledge."

On the practical side, Montanari let it be known that he will focus on the international role of the university, maintain a balanced distribution among the teaching ranks, improve gender parity (which, moreover, at the university is already good given that there are on average 8 male full professors compared to 7 women), limit the precariousness of research until it tends to disappear, consolidate the growth in student numbers and strengthen support for the right to study (reconsidering the taxation system and exploring “the most courageous as possible”), increase the quantity and quality of services offered to students, increase the spaces allocated to the free social and cultural life of the university community, improve the relationship with the school and orientation, which will have to be understood not as marketing but as the university’s service to the school. And then again: increasing technical staff by awarding prize recognition, ensuring internal advancement and bringing in new forces, establishing solid relations with labor unions, keeping the budget solid, establishing a seminar series sponsored and financed directly by the rector, subjecting teaching to review, making the university become more visible through the third mission, with public meetings also in collaboration with other parties.

Tomaso Montanari is the new rector of the University for Foreigners of Siena
Tomaso Montanari is the new rector of the University for Foreigners of Siena

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