Italian Americans constitute the largest European ancestral group in New York City, New York State, and at CUNY. The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, founded in 1979 and reconstituted in 1995, was the first of its kind devoted to documenting and preserving the Italian American experience. The goals of the institute—which was named in memory of a New York state senator who was a tireless champion of social justice—include heightening awareness, fostering higher education, and conducting research to deepen understanding of Italian Americans’ culture and heritage.
Among its offerings are a speakers bureau, conferences, seminars, exhibits, and symposia; a research library, archives, and a clearing house for research; lectures by Calandra faculty fellows and other notables; and a website, newsletter, and social sciences journal. The institute’s cable program “Italics” celebrated its 20th anniversary in fall 2008 on CUNY TV (Channel 75). Closely allied with the interdisciplinary Italian American studies minor at QC, the institute sponsors career counseling for CUNY students and the community. Through the institute’s Columbus CUNY/Italy Exchange Program, students may study at seven universities in Italy.