Maestro is a word most often used to describe an extraordinary musician. In Italian the word means also "master" and "teacher." These two words, when combined, perfectly describe Prof. Dino S. Cervigni, this year's nominee for the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Prof. Cervigni has been a Professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of North Carolina since 1989, after starting his career elsewhere in 1974. His excellence in the classroom has made an extraordinary impact on his students on our campus for over 20 years. His classes cover a wide range of subjects: Italian film, language, literature, and culture. His course on Dante, according to a student, "was well-organized, engaging, and cutting edge!" Many students and colleagues commented on his excellent organization. His syllabi are extraordinarily detailed and contain everything, from course assignments to a complete glossary of proofreading marks. This last item is essential because Prof. Cervigni assigns - and grades - a lot of student papers. His students note that he spends an enormous amount of time assisting them with their writing: "From outline to final draft, he is there every step of the way... Professor Cervigni spends hours with each student, listening to our ideas, reading our papers, and commenting on our ideas."
His faculty colleagues are equally impressed by his teaching and dedication: "Dino has prodigious energy and this shows in all aspects of his work. He grades with a fine-toothed comb and is always available to help students one-on-one." Another commented that he is "remarkably well-informed, imaginative, clearly articulate, and energetic." One colleague noted that some of his students have completed honors theses, many of which began as term papers in classes taken in earlier semesters. A former student, now teaching at another university, said that she learned what it means to be an excellent teacher through Prof. Cervigni's careful and attentive mentoring. In the classroom, his knowledge, insight, and excellent sense of humor keep the students' attention. One of our committee members applied what he calls his "Facebook test" during his visit to Prof. Cervigni's class. Although many students had open laptops, they were all taking notes, and none were engaged in social networking.
Prof. Cervigni's teaching and influence on graduate and undergraduate students stand out also because of his scholarly production. The founder and editor of a very prestigious journal of Italian studies, he has authored and edited more than forty volumes and published more than fifty essays. His curriculum lists many more volumes in progress. He acknowledges that his teaching has been nurtured and enhanced by his scholarship, and that his scholarship has been challenged and sustained by his teaching.
Prof. Cervigni is a master teacher and clearly deserving of this award. As one student said, "Every class period was like listening to a beautifully composed sonata." Bravo, Maestro!
Prof. Cervigni earned his undergraduate degree in Italy, a Master of Education at the University of Louisville, and a Master and PhD in Italian at Indiana University in Bloomington.