Anthony DeNapoli, Ed.D.
Dean of International Affairs
Fischler School of Education and Human Services
Taking Education World-Wide
You might say that Nova Southeastern University’s global growth in the 21st century began with one 13-year-old New Yorker’s summertime trip to Italy with his grandmother.
“Those three months started me on a path to explore the world,” said Anthony DeNapoli, Ed.D.
Barely knowing a word of Italian, the young DeNapoli immersed himself in the language – the first of five foreign tongues he would master. He went on to become a teacher of Spanish and Italian, a middle school principal, and education program professor, and a college administrator.
And now, in the job he seems made for, he’s NSU’s dean of international affairs at the Fischler School of Education and Human Services.
“One of my biggest goals is to internationalize the university,” he said. “That’s where we’re headed. We want to give the university a global look and perspective.”
DeNapoli is on a jet-fueled mission to make that happen. Twelve years ago, NSU ran partner programs only in Panama, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Now, they extend to at least 18 countries, from Italy to Malaysia. NSU faculty members and students are engaged in projects in some 54 countries. More than 2,200 students from 106 nations are taking NSU classes at the Fort Lauderdale campus or in cohorts in their home countries.
Giola Gabellieri Bargagli, who lives in Italy and serves as DeNapoli’s liason for Europe, said the globetrotting dean connects with people wherever he travels because “he listens to the person in front of him, not just with his ears, but with his heart.”
“He has a great gift,” added Bargagli, a Fischler School field associate, “to be Italian when he is with Italians, Brazilian with Brazilians, French in France.”
The college of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM) is one NSU school that’s rapidly internationalizing. Without DeNapoli, “we would not even be close to where we are right now,” said Anthony Silvagni, D.O., dean of NSU-COM.
When NSU-COM officials travel to foreign countries, DeNapoli comes along as translator and guide. “We just recently gave him an award for contributions to the advancement of international medicine,” Silvagni said of his colleague whose background is in education, not medicine. “He’s amazing.”
NSU-COM now offers postgraduate programs in osteopathic medicine, public health, science, and biomedical informatics in Colombia, Portugal, and Argentina – with Ecuador and Jordan on deck. The college has the only accredited online Master of Public Health degree program that’s available completely in Spanish.
With more than 150 students doing stints overseas as part of their studies, “it’s probably the largest foreign-study program in the country,” according to Silvagni – due, in part, no doubt, to DeNapoli’s efforts.
These forays into the larger world aren’t just idealism. They’re good business. By expanding internationally, NSU gains an edge. To DeNapoli, universities should do no less. In today’s world of online social networking, “everybody knows everything about everybody,” he said. Now, kids see each other, they hear their languages, they see where they live; hopefully, they gain an appreciation for diversity. If we continue to educate our own students in an Ameri-centric mode, what are we doing?”