Prof. Bellocchio Receives Gerald J. Swanson Prize for Teaching Excellence

May 4th, 2023

With classes described as diverse and dynamic, Letizia Bellocchio, Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of French and Italian, has been awarded the university’s 2023 Gerald J. Swanson Prize for Teaching Excellence.


“As a teacher-scholar, Dr. Bellocchio is tireless in her commitment to ensure that her students are prepared to be engaged, well-rounded citizens of the world when they leave UArizona. Italian language, film, theatre, history, literature, and culture are the springboards for her imparting the broader problem-solving and cross-cultural awareness that learners will need to thrive in today’s economy,” wrote Aileen Feng, Associate Professor of Italian and Director of Italian Studies, in a nomination letter. “She is a phenomenal and exemplary educator who is most deserving of this recognition.”


The prize was created through a gift from the Thomas R. Brown Foundation in honor of Gerald J. Swanson, University of Arizona Professor Emeritus. Throughout his more than 40 years at UA, Dr. Swanson's introductory economics course was legendary, a “must take” course for business and non-business majors alike.


Bellocchio’s work on undergraduate curricular development has created forward-looking and meaningful experiences for students, Feng says, particularly in the new course ITAL 433: Italian Business.


“She is committed to educational innovation, something that is best exemplified by the way in which she exposes learners to the real-life applications of the course materials,” Feng wrote. “Dr. Bellocchio has built career counseling and preparation into the foundation of her Italian Business course in a way that is meaningful and important to learners beyond the classroom.”


Student feedback demonstrates the broad and significant impact of the course.


“This class was probably the most useful class I’ve taken at the university. This class is great because it not only prepares you for the job market but it also prepares you for the international job market. The class was so well organized and taught fantastically,” wrote one student.


“The instructor is fantastic and I felt all the assignments were realistic and well designed for the real world. I feel much better prepared for working in Italy and knowledgeable about the economy and how it functions,” wrote another.


In her nomination letter, Carine Bourget, Head of the Department of French and Italian, called Bellocchio a “leading force” in reshaping the university’s Italian curriculum. Bourget noted that Bellocchio has taught at all levels (General Education, basic language and upper-division undergraduate classes), in four modalities (in-person, hybrid, live online and asynchronous), and expertly handled both small and large classes. Throughout, she has consistently earned stellar student comments for her passion, organized courses, energy in online teaching, and valuable feedback for students.


“Dr. Bellocchio is an innovative and versatile teacher who has had a tremendous impact on our Italian program in the relatively short time since she joined our department,” Bourget wrote. “She has excelled in teaching our undergraduate students, going above and beyond in and out of the classroom to provide them with new opportunities and open their horizons.”


Bellocchio, who received College of Humanities Distinguished Teaching Award in 2021, is the second Humanities professor in three years to receive the Swanson Prize for Teaching Excellence. Robert Stephan in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics won the award in 2021.