The emergence of the ‘Somer’

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“Somers” — a working name for the growing population of summer Romers at the University of Dallas — have much to look forward to this upcoming summer. It will be the first summer semester directed by Dr. Andrew Moran, associate professor of English and a true man of Rome. This change is part of a larger set of changes to the program which has grown in popularity after the massively successful semester of summer 22. 

Moran looks forward to taking the baton from Dr. Ronald Rombs, associate theology dean and associate director of the Rome Program. Moran has an immense gratitude for Rombs, who built the summer program from the ground up.  

“The program’s particular character is largely inspired by Rombs’s natural good will, friendliness, and enthusiasm,” Moran said. He is certainly up for the task, with four and a half years of experience teaching typical Rome semesters and fifteen summers with UD’s Shakespeare in Italy program for high school students. 

Like most Romers, Moran possesses a deep love for the “city of layers.” This single city at once encapsulates the mythical, republican, imperial, medieval, renaissance, baroque and modern. “The city of layers is so central to the UD education in which we are going from age to age,” said Moran. UD would not be UD without this unique place that contains the tradition of the West in a way that no other city does. 

“Rome is a joyful city despite tragedies and tyrannies,” Moran continued. “The Baroque of Rome gives us an image of the world as a great drama in which we play our own parts. A city with baroque architecture paints the world as a great theater that we are actors in — an invigorating notion that tells one that his life is important, that one’s education is a preparation for the great part one is going to play in life.”

Professors and students alike chuckle at the rivalry and stereotype of the “Fromer” and the “Spromer,” with each semester encapsulating a particular set of virtues and vices, for better or worse. Summer Rome, devoid of devious traditions, might end up being the semester that unites the divided Romers. The summer semester attracts students with packed schedules preventing a regular Rome semester: athletes, seminarians, transfers and others. “It is the semester of the eclectic mix,” said Moran. 

Andrea Cid, junior English major, was a member of the 2022 summer Rome class.“Our class was at the same time studious and spontaneous,” says Cid. Without the typical long weekends to travel around Europe, summer Romers used every ounce of free time to explore Rome. “We would try to make Rome our home as much as possible,” she reminisced. 

In the upcoming 2023 summer Rome semester, students will have the opportunity to explore Europe with more long weekends, due to the updated 12-credit semester schedule. This will likely provide a much more manageable schedule for an academic semester that Cid describes as almost as brutal as the Italian summer heat. 

The 2023 Summer Rome schedule is full of UD giants. Dr. Susan Hanssen, associate professor of history, and Dr. Estelle Fonteneau, adjunct instructor, will be teaching Western Civilization and Art and Architecture, respectively, in the first section of the summer. Dr. Debra Romanick Baldwin, associate professor of English, is taking Literary Traditions II and Dr. Christopher Malloy, associate professor of theology, will teach Theological Traditions in the second section of the semester. 

Students may opt to attend either or both sections, with both classes uniting in the legendary Greece trip in the middle of the summer. Cid cited the entirety of the Greece trip as her favorite Rome memory — a time of bonding and recharging while visiting the most important places in the Western tradition. 

The post-Rome UD student returns to school after an irreversible metamorphosis. “One’s aspirations of life have been reshaped by seeing that the world is bigger than you thought it was,” explained Moran. The resurgence of summer Rome serves to bring this transformation to a wider community of UD students.

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