Fifty years ago, Jack Kehoe, professor at the UGA Lamar Dodd School of Art, went on a two-month search to select a site for the school’s Study Abroad Program. After visiting more then two dozen different locales throughout Italy, he chose not one of the major centers of art studies, like Florence or Rome, but instead, the remarkable Tuscan town of Cortona, Italy.
The first group to journey to Cortona consisted of 39 summer students. The program is now year-round, and has over 10,000 alumni. Some 14 colleges and universities across the nation have had affiliations with the Cortona Program. It is impossible to measure the impact that Kehoe’s choice has had on the thousands of visiting American students, their families, UGA, and the Cortonese. His pioneering vision and extraordinary passion created and nurtured the UGA Cortona Studies Abroad Program which has transformed legions of young lives.
Today, the UGA Residential Center in Cortona offers study abroad programs in Art and Art History during the Spring, Summer, and Fall academic terms. It also runs more concentrated programs during the month of May, when Maymester programs specialize in a variety of disciplines, including Science and Art History, Viticulture and Enology, and Theatre.
This past weekend, UGA and Franklin College administrators, advisory board members, faculty, students and alumni of the program celebrated the fiftieth anniversary with celebratory events across the two days in the medieval hilltop village including lunch on the Severini School Lawn accompanied by an address from President Morehead; speeches from the Mayor of Cortona and Chris Robinson Director of the Cortona Program in Sant’Agostino; a group photo on the Steps of Giardini del Parterre (above), and a parade into the city park to see an exhibition of photos from Cortona alumni.
Congratulations to the thousands of people who have enjoyed this wonderful learning experience in Tuscany - one that really began UGA's study abroad journey 50 years ago. Here's to the next fifty!