In the spring of 2017 Frank Nero (MA 1994) wrapped up his first year as Director of the thriving FSU Florence Program; in the fall, he and fellow FSU Florence professor Linda Reynolds were honored with prestigious University teaching awards. The Transformation Through Teaching Award honors FSU faculty who have had an intellectual, inspirational, and integrative impact on their students’ lives. Recipients are selected by the Spiritual Life Project on the basis of students’ compelling nominations. There were only 14 recipients of the 2017 awards; that two of them are art history professors on the Florence Program is a testament to the quality of the program and the impact of its devoted leaders and teachers. Nero writes that the award is “a reflection on the Florence staff and program assistants, who take on much of the heavy lifting that allows us to bring Florence to the students in the classroom and outside of it.”
Recipients of the award were honored with a ceremony and dinner November 28 at the home of President Thrasher. Although the Florence professors were forced to send their regrets due to the 5,000-mile distance, Nero and Assistant Director Lucia Cossari came to Tallahassee in October for a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the FSU International Programs. Thrasher said of the 14 teaching award honorees, “They really care about their students and have helped them discover hidden passions, pushed them to reach higher and encouraged them to dream bigger. It’s clear these professors have made an impact in the lives of their students that will last a lifetime.”
“There is no one more authentic than Frank Nero. He loves Europe, he loves art history and he especially loves football (soccer). Nero gave his all every day and was there for us no matter the circumstances. He taught us how to grow from our mistakes and be better — whether that was on the soccer field, in the classroom or even just being there for us once school had ended, he was always on our side. He wanted the best for the program and for the students. His job didn’t stop at 7 p.m., in fact, I don’t think his job ever stopped. He worked relentlessly, helping us to grow. I think most of us could say we don’t know where we’d be without him.”
Reynolds was nominated by Jessica Beasley, who wrote admiringly of the professor’s optimistic outlook and passion for the arts:
“Professor Reynolds is clearly teaching because she truly loves and respects art history. Her enthusiasm to a good question is not only encouraging but inspiring. I have never seen someone so successfully living for happiness. This woman transferred countries and learned a whole language just to chase her passion. She’s unapologetically brilliant, and her extensive travels have given her unparalleled experiences. I decided to pursue graduate school after realizing where her own graduate school experience had taken her. The idea of the ‘lifelong student’ has never been better personified by anyone else, and I hope to follow in her footsteps.”
Now in its 52nd year, the FSU Florence Program has a lifelong relationship with the Department of Art History at FSU, beginning with its founding professors and first students – some of the Mud Angels who helped clean up after the Florence Flood of 1966. We are pleased with the leadership of FSU alumnus Nero and excited to offer new teaching appointments for our PhD students. Nero has taught on the Florence Program since 2005; in his new role as Director, one of his goals was to strengthen the program’s natural relationship with FSU Art History by providing these research and teaching opportunities to graduate students during the summer semesters. For more details, see Teaching Appointments on our International Opportunities page.