Main Content

Rubenstein Center Scholarship

Italy in the White House: A Conversation on Historical Perspectives

Run-of-Show: March 2, 2016

March 2 Program


  • Registration and light breakfast at Decatur House


  • Break and transition to Carriage House


  • Welcome
    • Stewart D. McLaurin, President, White House Historical Association
    • The Honorable Anita B. McBride, Board Member, White House Historical Association; National Italian American Foundation
    • John Viola, President and COO, National Italian American Foundation
    • Dr. Curtis Sandberg, Director of the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History, White House Historical Association


  • Keynote Presentation followed by Q&A
    • Professor Campbell Grey, Associate Professor, Department of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania


  • Break and transition to courtyard


  • Lunch inspired by menus from White House state dinners with Italian leaders
  • Panel Discussion Featuring:
    • The Honorable Anita B. McBride, Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush
    • The Honorable Lloyd N. Hand, United States Chief of Protocol for President Lyndon B. Johnson
    • The Honorable Catherine S. Fenton, Social Secretary for First Lady Laura Bush. Deputy Social Secretary for First Lady Nancy Reagan
    • Moderated by Stewart D. McLaurin, President, White House Historical Association
  • Performance of "Di Provenza, il mar, il suol" La Traviata - G. Verdi, performed by Ricardo Herrera, Bass-Baritone and Tatiana Loisha on Piano
    • Originally performed by Robert Merrill on January 14, 1964 for President Lyndon B. Johnson's state dinner for President Antonio Segni of Italy


  • Break and transition to Carriage House


  • Panel discussion moderated by Dr. Curtis Sandberg, White House Historical Association and Professor Barbara Faedda, Columbia University followed by Q&A
    • Professor Mortimer Sellers, Regents Professor of the University System of Maryland and Director of the University of Baltimore Center for International and Comparative Law
      • Tracing U.S. origins to classical antiquity and Italian philosophical thought
    • Professor Richard Guy Wilson, holds the Commonwealth Professor's Chair in Architectural History at the University of Virginia
      • Exploring the ancient Roman and Italian roots of White House architecture
    • Meredith Levin, Western European Humanities Librarian, Columbia University Libraries
      • Illustrating the impact of Italy and Italian culture on life in the Executive Mansion and Washington, D.C.
  • Concluding Remarks
    • Professor Barbara Faedda, Associate Director, Italian Academy for Advanced Studies and Adjunct Assistance Professor, Department of Italian, Columbia University
      • An Italian perspective on the U.S.-Italy relationship


  • Reception with Italian music previously performed at the White House (Herrera and Loisha)
    • "Vi Ravviso" La Sonnambula - V. Bellini
      • Originally performed at the White House by Etelka Gerster during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes
    • La Serenata - F.P. Tosti
      • Originally performed by Luciano Pavarotti for President Ronald Reagan on March 26, 1981 at the Ford's Theater Gala