By Sally Krutzig
The University of Dallas has recently made some changes to the summer programs in Rome. The six-week programs have long been a part of the university. One reason for these changes is to help promote the University of Dallas to high school students. The first and largest change is the fact that, rather than meeting in Rome, the students will meet in Irving for an opening dinner and a tour of campus. Previously, many high school students would either meet in Philadelphia or Rome. UD administrators hope that by spending time on campus, high school students will be more likely to attend after they graduate.
Another incentive is the new summer Rome program scholarship. High school students who participate in the Rome program and then decide to attend UD will be given a $4000 scholarship, to be given in $1000 increments over their four years at UD.
“It’s essentially free for students who choose to attend UD,” said Dr. John Plotts, University of Dallas vice president.
The second major change is the decrease in price. Previously, the cost of the high school Rome program was over $6000. The price has now decreased to $2900, plus airfare. These price changes were made possible by increasing the size of the program to 30 students. In the past, groups were normally smaller. Yet, according to Dr. Ron Rombs, a theology professor who has taught in the summer program for the past four years, the program is still small enough that students can quickly get to know one another.
“Everybody becomes fast friends,” Rombs said.
The program has expanded academically as well. There are now two Core classes taught during the summer program to undergraduates. Previously, the only Core class was Western Theological Tradition. The program now offers Literary Traditions III and Philosophy of the Human Person. High school students, however, have different courses. They can take Shakespeare in Italy; Latin in Rome; Rome and the Catholic Church; and Arete: An Introduction to the Classics. In addition to these, Rombs will teach God, The Lover, and the City.
During the summer program, there are often no weekends, according to Rombs. Students may have class even on Saturdays and Sundays. Yet these classes are anything but traditional.
“We usually begin somewhere around the feast day of Justin Martyr. On that day, we walk the Appian Way,” Rombs explained. “We walk to the catacombs and have lunch outside, Mass in the catacombs, and class out in the gardens and fields. We read together and discuss the martyrdom.”
While summer students, do not have the famous 10-day experience, they do get five days to explore Europe on their own. They also take class trips around Italy, traveling to cities such as Assisi and Florence.
“We work hard, we play hard, we enjoy Italy thoroughly,” Rombs said.
These new changes may encourage more students to attend both the summer Rome program and the University of Dallas.
“We’re really excited about the new way we’re handling the summer program,” Plotts stated.