Giovatto Library Staff Development Day is “on the move”

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Giovatto Library News for the Week of June 4th

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FDU Historical Perspectives III: Guest Blog Contribution by Clifford J. Brooks FDU Historical Perspectives III—Marvel or Miracle?

… Depends upon your point of view. For 30 years, during and after Sister Margherita Marchione’s tenure as Professor of Italian Literature at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Peter Sammartino was, in a sense, her mentor. He followed her career and activities very closely. Almost daily he would ring at 8:00 a.m. with suggestions, recommendations, or missions to be accomplished. Even for Sister, it was not easy to keep up with him.

According to Sister, there were all sorts of proposals: “Maggie, will you join Sally and me for dinner? I’d like to talk about several matters of importance.” The discussion might concern congratulations on an article or book, an invitation to join a new Italian-American organization, or instructions on particular tasks. Dr. and Mrs. Sammartino were also always concerned about the Filippini Sisters at Villa Walsh where Sister was the treasurer.  They would frequently inquire about banking, maintenance problems, or the needs of the retired sisters.  The list was endless.

One day, while Sister was visiting the Sammartinos at their Ridge Road home in Rutherford, Dr. Sammartino described a painting by Chinese artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), which he and Sally had decided to leave in Sister’s care for the benefit of the aging Sisters at Villa Walsh. Ever the optimist, he said, “I paid $10,000 for it, but you [Sister] can surely get $20,000 for it today. In fact, if you take it to Hong Kong, I bet it will bring $40,000.”

It was during the fall of 1991 that Peter and Sally donated their Palm Beach paintings and condominium to the Religious Teachers Filippini. Several months later Dr. Sammartino, who was scheduled to speak at the Italian Cultural Society of the Palm Beaches, asked Sister to substitute for him and, at the same time, to remove their personal belongings from the apartment.

That particular weekend Sister’s niece, Joan Messner Epstein, was also in Palm Beach. As she was about to fall asleep in the Sammartino condominium under the Zhang Daqian landscape, Sister related Sammartino’s prediction regarding a possible sale in Hong Kong.  Her niece sat straight up and said, “Where are the bags?  Let’s pack!” Sister told Joan she had no intention of travelling to Hong Kong, so Joan suggested the painting be looked at by Sotheby’s. The Palm Beach representative of the Company deemed the work of interest and it was delivered to the New York office. Experts evaluated it at $20,000 to $25,000.

Some quirk caused the painting to be overlooked in October 1992 during the auction catalog design. Sotheby’s, by way of a most gracious apology, placed the Zhang Daqian (at no expense, including a complete waiver of seller’s commission, risk of loss, and photography charges) in the next scheduled sale of Chinese paintings, June 1, 1993.

The catalog reiterated the estimate of $20,000-$25,000 and listed it as No. 96 to be auctioned.

An art dealer accompanied Sister and her niece, Joan, to Sotheby’s June 1st Chinese auction. Fearing the reserve was too high, both decided to lower it to $14,000! With just moments to spare, they hastily trekked to the third floor where they registered the new reserve figure. Much relieved by the decision to opt for safety rather than risk losing the painting’s sale, they took their seats near the front, prepared to listen patiently, and hoped for the best.

Sister prayed as she waited for lot number 96. David N. Redden, a director at Sotheby’s, wielded the hammer for the sale of Chinese paintings. He swiftly and skillfully drew bids from the audience and telephone bidders, reaching lot number 96 in less than an hour. As he noted the new reserve figure, he hesitated momentarily. The bidding started at $15,000.

Sister states the she was afraid to look around. What if no one wanted the painting? As she continued to pray silently, she heard the auctioneer’s voice confirm $15,000. At least they had made their reserve. Slowly the bid reached $18,000. Then $18,500. Everyone was silent when the telephones began ringing from Hong Kong. The auctioneer confirmed $20,000; then $30,000. Soon the bidding hit $40,000.

Two operators were documenting and monitoring the competitive bidders from Hong Kong. The auctioneer’s voice was baffling the audience. Sister could not believe what she was hearing! At $140,000, she dropped her head into her hands and prayed that it was all true.

Tension was growing in the audience. When the auctioneer lowered the hammer for the last time at $230,000, Sister thanked God for another of Peter and Sally’s gifts. Sister had joined the convent at age thirteen and taken a vow of poverty. Now at age seventy-two, she was still a witness to the power of prayer. This time it was in the form of “the miracle on 72nd Street!”

David Redden was pleased to learn that the painting was a Sammartino gift to the Religious Teachers Filippini. He recalled that Peter Sammartino served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees when he attended St. Stephen’s School in Rome, Italy.

During an interview with Associated Press, Redden remarked: “I don’t know whether Sister Margherita’s prayers inspired the bidding, but it certainly had that feeling. It’s nice in this case, if a miracle is going to happen… that it concerns something that is going to provide some real benefit to a good group of people.”

Peter and Sally’s gift sold for a miracle price at auction. Even after their death they were extending a helping hand as they had for decades. Little did the competitive bidders for Hong Kong realize that they, too, were contributing to a trust fund for the elderly Religious Teachers Filippini in retirement at Villa Walsh– a trust fund in memory of the co-founders of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Peter and Sally Sammartino.

This blog quotes extensively from interviews, conversations, and the writings of Sister Margherita Marchione, MPF.  Sister has given explicit permission to be quoted or copied verbatim.


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Information and Media Literacy Sessions

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Giovatto Library News for the Week of May 21st

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Giovatto Library Calendar June 2018

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Giovatto Library Open During Construction

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FDU Historical Perspectives II: Guest Blog Contribution by Clifford J. Brooks

FDU Historical Perspectives II— “The College on Wheels”

Guest Blog by Clifford J. Brooks

Having recently written about some of the projects that were initiated by Sister Margherita Marchione, MPF, and Dr. Peter Sammartino, we came across a brief mention of an endeavor that does not appear in any of Dr. Sammartino’s publications. We know that Peter Sammartino was very interested in international education, and that one of the major emphases at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) was an understanding of what went on all over the world. The Sammartinos strongly encouraged experiential learning and student trips. They themselves loved visiting Southeast Asia and often arranged for travel and study seminars for students. Of course, given Dr. Sammartino’s background, trips to Europe figured largely in his overall educational planning, and Italy was always on his mind. This should not be a surprise to any of our readers who knew him or his interests in immigration and Italian-American heritage.

It was pointed out in the first blog that Sister Margherita and Dr. Sammartino were frequent collaborators and longtime friends. Both were serious academics who believed in the value of instruction in a foreign country that could be combined with a collegial environment and a well-developed curriculum. Neither Sister nor Dr. Sammartino wanted students to waste their entire day sitting in cafes or staying in a dormitory sleeping, just to go out and party at night. The Southeast Asian seminar was organized in such a way as to allow students to pursue their own objectives while following a curriculum that would stand up to any academic scrutiny. Dr. and Mrs. Sammartino did not stop here. From the small forays abroad came a series of summer institutes at FDU and the development of a concerted effort to bring international students to the FDU Campuses. Both felt that not only would this enrich the lives of the American students on campus, but also expand the influence of FDU throughout the world.

Meanwhile, Sister Margherita was working diligently on the Mazzei project and planning ceremonies for the 250th anniversary of Mazzei’s birth, which included celebrating the release of an air mail stamp commissioned by the US Post Office honoring Philip Mazzei. In true Marchione/Sammartino style, the anniversary celebrations were on an international level, with a conference in Rome scheduled for October 15, 1980 which was also designed to celebrate the printing of another Mazzei stamp by the Republic of Italy. Peter Sammartino and Sister were treated like royalty at the Excelsior Hotel, attended gala dinners and met a number of high ranking Italian government officials.

Following the conference, Dr. and Mrs. Sammartino, Sister, and other dignitaries were invited to the home of American Ambassador Gardner for a reception. It was there that the idea of Corfinio College was conceived during a conversation that included the Sammartinos, Sister, and Henry Tessicini, a well-known Italian philanthropist, who was interested in promoting the teaching of Italian culture. His friendship with Peter Sammartino inspired him to donate funds for young American students to study in Italy. Building off the existing summer institutes, Dr. Sammartino placed the idea for expanding the existing Italian programs into the hands of Sister Margherita Marchione. Thus was born the “college on wheels.” For ten summers a new program, based in Corfinio, Italy introduced Americans and other Europeans to Italian culture and civilization. Over five hundred students graduated from Corfinio, some of whom still keep in touch with Sister Margherita.

After the closing of Walsh College in 1971, both Sister and the Sammartinos were discouraged, since the institution was financially sound and educationally successful. Sally Sammartino had donated years of experience in Admissions to Walsh, and Peter Sammartino had served as President of the Board. Both encouraged Sister to remain at Fairleigh Dickinson University and continue with her research and other activities. They were particularly interested in Sister’s working in the summer institutes, where students received six undergraduate credits from Fairleigh Dickinson University and enjoyed complete immersion in Italian culture and civilization.

Sister was never happy with the housing for her summer institute FDU students and yearned for a different venue. Plumbing problems in the pensione would take up lot of her time and never seemed to improve from year to year. After the reception where Corfinio was discussed, the establishment of the new “college” solved all of her maintenance responsibilities. The FDU Institutes held in Italy morphed easily into the Corfinio College on wheels. As in all of the Marchione/Sammartino collaborations, Corfinio was innovative and far ahead of its time. The program was designed in such a way as to take students to nearby towns and cities in their “scuolabus or pulmino,” where they would learn, through observations and interviews, about the lives of other people, their aspirations and their problems. Sister and Dr. Sammartino called it an “anthropological approach to learning.” Materials for use in the culture and language courses were developed to provide insights into the nature of Italian lifestyles and gain new perspectives in the context of the social services and international trade and business. Language proficiency was of primary importance. In later years, Corfinio College students travelled through Italy, visiting sites and cities from Calabria to Venice.

Instructors included Carmen Prezioso, Chairman of the Language Department of Princeton High School, Edward Golda of Union College, and Grace Gaetani of FDU, among others. The students always seemed to enjoy the various experiences offered to them by the Corfinio program. One could recount a number of stories that Sister tells about her travels with Corfinio, but a particular anecdote demonstrates how she and Dr. Sammartino would operate. When visiting a museum near Naples, Sister was dismayed to find a large sign posted on the gate stating that the museum was closed for repairs. Never taking no for the answer, Sister went from door to door to find someone to open the museum. She had no success and was about to leave when she noticed a large church bell in the courtyard. Ringing the bell, Sister summoned workers and a kind looking monk. Explaining to the monk that the students travelled from the United States to see the museum, the monk unlocked the door and gave them a guided tour!

Sister’s files are full of letters from former Corfinio students who attest to the richness of the program and how they were changed by their experiences at Corfinio. The FDU Summer Institutes developed into a special program that was later incorporated as Corfinio College– a nonprofit, nonsectarian co-educational program in association with Thomas Edison College of New Jersey, offering seven credits for transfer to any college in the United States. The students even formed their own alumni association and met at Sister’s Mazzei Center in Morristown ever year. Corfinio ended in 1989.

Information on the College on Wheels and Dr. Sammartino’s projects can easily be found in the Frank Giavotto Library in Teaneck.

This blog is freely adapted from interviews with and publications by Sister Margherita Marchione, MPF. Sister has given explicit permission to be quoted or copied.


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The Great Courses @Giovatto Library DVD’s and Audiobooks

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The Great Courses @Giovatto Library

The Great Courses Available at Giovatto Library


23 Greatest Solo Piano Works

Advanced Investments

Algebra I

Algebra II

American Civil War

American Mind

Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything

Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning

Art Across the Ages

Art and Craft of Mathematical Problem Solving

Art of Conflict Management: Achieving Solutions for Life, Work and Beyond

Art of Critical Decision Making

Art of Negotiating of the Best Deal

Art of Public Speaking: Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History

Art of Reading

Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals

Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

Art of Travel Photography: Six Expert Lessons

Becoming a Great Essayist

Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide

Big Data: How Data Analysis is Transforming the World

Black Holes Explained

Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Space Time: Understanding Gravity

Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience

Brief History of the World

Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft

Catholic Church: A History

Change and Motion: Calculus Made Clear

Chemistry and Our Universe: How it All Works


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain

Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are

Capitalism vs. Socialism: Comparing Economic Systems

Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe

Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy

Discrete Mathematics

Effective Communication Skills

Einstein’s Relativity and Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists

Entrepreneur’s Toolkit

Essentials of Strength Training

Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong

Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life

Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Deserts

Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking

Everyday Gourmet: Making Healthy Food Taste Great

Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails

Everyday Guide to Wine

Everyday Guide to Wines of California

Everyday Guide to Wines of France

Everyday Guide to Wines of Italy

Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe

Experiencing Rome: A Visual Exploration of Antiquity’s Greatest Empire

Fall and Rise of China

Financial Literacy: Finding Your Way in the Financial Markets

Food: A Cultural Culinary History

Foundations of Organic Chemistry

Fundamentals of Photography

Fundamentals of Photography II

Fundamentals of Sustainable Living

Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond

Genius of Michelangelo


Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

Great Thinkers, Great Theorems

Great Tours: Greece and Turkey from Athens to Istanbul

Great American Bestsellers: The Books that Shaped America

Greek 101: Learning an Ancient Language

Guide to Essential Italy

History of Ancient Rome

History of Christian Theology

History of European Art

History of the Bible: Making of the New Testament Canon

History of United States

Higgs Boson and Beyond

How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals

How Conversation Works: 6 Lessons for Better Communication

How Music and Mathematics Relate

How to Become a Superstar Student

How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips and Techniques

How to Grow Anything: Your Best Garden and Landscapes in 6 Lessons

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

How to Publish Your Book

How to Read and Understand Shakespeare

How to Stay Fit as You Age

How We Learn

Iliad of Homer

Influence: Mastering Life’s Most Powerful Skill

International Economic Institutions: Globalism vs. Nationalism

Introduction to Number Theory

Irish Identity: Independence, History and Literature

Joy of Mathematics

Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas

Language and Society: What Your Speech Says About You

Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language

Learning Spanish: How to Understand and Speak a New Language

Life Lessons from the Great Books

Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age

Life and Death of Stars

London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World

Long Shadow of the Ancient Greek World

Mastering Differential Equations

Mastering the Fundamentals of Mathematics

Masters Of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers

Masterworks of American Art

Mathematical Decision Making: Predictive Models and Optimization

Mathematics Describing the Real World: Precalculus and Trigonometry

Mathematics from the Visual World

Mathematics of Games and Puzzles: From Cards to Sudoku

Mathematics, Philosophy, and the “Real World”

Meaning from Data: Statistics Made Clear

Memory and the Human Lifespan

Mind-Body Medicine: The New Science of Optimal Health

Money and Banking: What Everyone Should Know

Money Management Skills

Museum Masterpieces: The Louvre

Museum Masterpieces: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Music and the Brain

Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

New Testament

No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life

Nutrition Made Clear

Odyssey of Homer

Optimizing Brain Fitness

Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations

Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

Our Night Sky

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You

Physics and Our Universe: How it Works

Physiology and Fitness

Power of Mathematical Thinking: From Newton’s Laws to Elections and the Economy

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation

Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in the 21st Century

Prove It: The Art of Mathematical Argument

Queen of the Sciences

Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World


Roots of Human Behavior

Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being

Science of Natural Healing

Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory

Secret Life of Words: English Words and their Origins

Secrets of Mental Math

Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders

Shape of Nature

Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience

Story of Human Language

Strategic Thinking Skills

Stress and Your Body

Thinking about Cybersecurity: From Cyber Crime to Cyber Warfare

Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works

Transformational Leadership: How Leaders Change Teams, Companies, and Organizations

Thermodynamics: Four Laws that Move the Universe

Understanding Calculus: Problems, Solutions, and Tips

Understanding Calculus II: Problems, Solutions, and Tips

Understanding Investments

Understanding Nonverbal Communication

Understanding the Brain

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music

Understanding the Human Body: An Introduction to Anatomy and Psychology

Understanding the Inventions that Changed the World

Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior

Understanding The World’s Greatest Structures: Science and Innovation from Antiquity to Modernity

What Are Chances? : Probability Made Clear

What Science Knows About Cancer

Why Evil Exists

World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History

Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity

Writing Creative Nonfiction

Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques

Yoga for Healthy Mind and Body

Your Best Brain

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

Zero To Infinity: A History of Numbers


23 Greatest Solo Piano Works

Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything

Art of Critical Decision Making

Art of Reading

Brief History of the World

Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft

Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are

Effective Communication Skills

How to Listen To and Understand Great Music

How to Read and Understand Shakespeare

London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World

Money and Banking: What Everyone Should Know

Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation

Privacy, Property, and Free Speech: Law and the Constitution in The 21st Century

Story of Human Language

Stress and Your Body

Thinking about Cybersecurity: From Cyber Crime to Cyber Warfare

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music

Writing Creative Nonfiction

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills






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