The Catholic University of America

Faculty and Staff - CUA Rome


Rome campus staff

David Dawson Vasquez, Ph.D.

Rome Director and Instructor of Theology
Dr. Dawson has been living in Rome since 1998. He holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from The Catholic University of America and an M.A. from Boston College. He has been directing CUA’s Rome operations since its beginnings. His theological interests center on the relationship between faith and reason, the role of liturgy and the experience of God in theology, and the theology of grace. His dissertation studied the role of the experience of God in the theology of the Orthodox Churches. Originally from south Louisiana, he lives year-round in Rome with his wife, Susan, and daughter, Magdalena.

Claudio Betti, Ph.D.

Facilities and Business Manager

Aurora Santoro, M.A.

Assistant Director for Student Affairs
Born and raised in Italy, Aurora earned a degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures (Laurea in Lingue e Letterature Straniere) at Universita’ Degli Studi di Bari, Italy, with a major in English language and literature. After a year at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, and the University of Massachusetts, she earned a Master of Arts in Italian Studies at The University of Washington in Seattle, where she also taught Italian to the undergraduate students. She has taught Italian as a Foreign Language in Rome for a few years, and English language and literature in Italian high schools. She has been working for the CUA Rome Program for 7 years. In addition to Italian, she is fluent in English and Spanish and speaks some German.

Grace Xerri, B.A.

Residence Director and Student Affairs Assistant
Originally from Medford, New Jersey, Grace has been living in Rome and working with the Rome Program since August 2013. She earned a B.A. in Media Studies with a minor in Italian Studies from The Catholic University of America in May 2013. She is also an alumna of the CUA Rome Program Spring 2012 semester, during which she lived with a host family and continued to grow in her interest and love of the Italian language and culture. During her time at CUA Grace spent a semester working as the Marketing Assistant in the Office of Global Education, pursued a communications internship at an international NGO in Washington, D.C., was a committee member for CUA Relay for Life, participated in the CUA 2011 Mission Trip to Belize, and was also the President of the Italian Club. In addition to her work in Rome, Grace is currently pursuing a M.S. in Higher Education Administration & Leadership from Drexel University’s distance-learning program, from which she is planning to graduate in June 2017. 

Rome Chaplain

The Reverend Anthony Ekpo

Campus Chaplain

Fr Anthony completed his seminary formation at the Holy Spirit Seminary, Brisbane, and was ordained in 2011 for the Diocese of Umuahia in Nigeria. He served as an Assistant Priest at Surfers Paradise Parish, Gold Coast, Australia and, later on, as the Pastoral Assistant to the Archbishop of Brisbane as well as an Assistant Priest at the Cathedral of St Stephen, Brisbane. He is an Alumnus of ACU.

Rome Center Faculty

Andrew J. Boyd

Instructor of Theology
Andrew (A.J.) Boyd moved to Rome in 2009 as a Russell Berrie Fellow in Interreligious Studies, from the Seattle area. After completing his License in Ecumenism and Dialogue, he was invited to begin teaching courses in theology for various study abroad programs and the Pontifical Beda College. He has also taught short term courses through the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas, and with the sabbatical program of the North American College. His teaching areas include Ecclesiology, Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue, New Testament, the Papacy, Patristics, and Rome itself. He is currently writing his doctoral dissertation. 

Crispin Corrado, Ph.D.

Instructor of Art History
Crispin Corrado is a classical archaeologist specializing in Roman art, who received her Ph.D. at Brown University, and an M.A. in Art History and B.A. in Classics from the University of Chicago. She has fieldwork experience at Pompeii, and has worked in a curatorial capacity in the departments of ancient art at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Vatican Museums. While working at these institutions, she assisted in the creation and implementation of exhibitions of ancient art, co-authored catalogs, wrote articles and presented guest lectures. Her major research interests include Roman wall painting, sculpture, and domestic architecture, and her publications include an article on Roman wall painting published in the Rivista di Studi Pompeiani, and a 2013 monograph on the commemorative funerary practices of the Romans during the imperial period, entitled Merry and Jovial: Reconsidering the Effigies Immortalis and the Commemoration of Roman Boys. Her current book projects include a student-oriented guide to the ancient city of Rome, and a monograph on Roman imperial villas. She currently teaches courses related to ancient Rome at several study abroad institutions in Rome, and serves as the Academic Director for the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art, the international organization dedicated to issues related to the loss and destruction of art and cultural artifacts. She is also the founder and an acting officer of the Rome Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Sophia Gruzdys

Instructor of Architecture
Sophia Gruzdys brings a rich background to CUA’s Rome Program. She earned a Master’s of Architecture degree with distinction from Harvard University, and has extensive experience as a professional architect at I.M. Pei and Partners and partner at Craig Nealy Architects in New York City. The former Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Architecture Major at Yale University, she is a Senior Lecturer at USC, and the former director of CUA’s Barcelona program. She maintains an active international professional practice, whose work has been featured on HGTV, among other publications. Sophia is a registered architect in New York State, a Board member of the American Institute of Architects Continental Europe Chapter and was appointed its 2017 Director of the Southern Section.

James Hadley, Ph.D.

Instructor of Theology
Dr. James Hadley moved to Rome in 2012 to begin post-doctoral studies in the Faculty of Beni Culturali at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, including training within the Vatican Museums. Previously, he earned a STL in Liturgical Studies and Sacramental Theology from the Catholic University of America. He then moved to Europe, studying at the Institut Supérieur de Théologie des Arts (ISTA), Paris, and completing his Ph.D. in Liturgical Art and Architecture at the Pontifical University of Ireland. Specialized in the history of Christian material culture (plastic arts and architecture), the focus of his research and teaching is the valorization and interpretation of ecclesiastical art and architecture in its liturgical-theological context and aesthetic milieu. Such a perspective not only involves histories of art but also the physical preservation and sourcing of the arts as reservoirs of theology and insight for both the contemporary Church and artistic and architectural professions. Dr. Hadley is a trained artist working in the mediums of stained glass, oil/acrylics, bronze and textiles. He publishes in both liturgical and architectural journals such as Anaphora, Ecclesia Orans, and Faith & Form, and belongs to Societas Liturgica as well as the North American Academy of Liturgy.

Marina Kavalirek

CUArchitecture Program
A native of Austria Marina Kavalirek graduated in Architecture from Die Technische Universität, Vienna in 1998 and is a member of the Architecture Chamber of Baden Wurttemberg, Stuttgart, Germany. She moved to Rome in 1997 where she began her architectural career. She worked for Massimillano Fuksas on the Vienna Twin Towers and with King & Roselli on the ES-Hotel in Rome. Kavalirek is one of the three founding members of “Arcult” a partnership of architects in Rome guiding visiting architects and scholars for modern and contemporary sites in Rome. She has written guide books and given lectures to professionals and students studying in Rome. From 2007-2010 she taught for Penn State University as an adjunct Professor in the Sede di Roma program in Landscape Architecture. Since 2009 she has coordinated the Spring and Summer architecture programs in Rome for CUA. Kavalirek has travelled extensively in Europe and has led research and study tours throughout Italy.

Milena Locatelli, Ph.D.

Instructor of English Literature
Dr. Locatelli graduated in acting from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (Rome), and in Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Rome "La Sapienza". She holds a Ph.D. in Modern Languages and Literature (English and Spanish) from the University of Pisa in 2005, with a dissertation on the theatre of Federico García Lorca (The Theatre of Federico García Lorca in Spain and Italy: An Analysis of the International Reception). From 2005 to 2008 Dr. Locatelli was Professor of Spanish literature at the University of Pescara, where she taught courses on the Semiotics of Theatre, The Analysis of the Literary Text, Theatre and Poetry in the 20th century, and Cinema and Literature. Since 2005, she has taught Italian language and culture at the American Academy in Rome, as well as at the Rome campus of Iowa State University of Science and Technology and the Embassy of Ireland to the Holy See. Since 2009, she has been teaching British and American Literature at the Catholic University of America in Rome, as well as a course on "The City of Rome" at St. John's University. Alongside her teaching duties, she participates regularly in conferences, and continues to publish articles, essays and papers in several European magazines and reviews.

Ian Roberts, DBA, FStratP

Instructor of Management

Ian Roberts accumulated over 25 years’ line management experience, including 10 years in general management positions, with industry leading multinationals in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors. He progressed into international business consultancy specialising in strategy, turnarounds, international sales and business development in multi-lingual, cross-cultural environments. He also undertook a number of interim management projects either as general manager or in senior sales or business development roles with French, German, Italian, UK, and US companies. Currently, he teaches  courses in business strategy, business analytics, international management, international marketing, marketing research and the European Union at higher education institutes including John Cabot University, St. John’s University, and The Catholic University of America in Rome. Dr. Roberts studied economics at the University of Hull and holds an Executive MBA from the University of Georgia. He was awarded his Doctor of Business Administration from the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, and he is a Fellow of the Strategic Planning Society. He has lived and worked in five countries, and done business in over 40 nations. He has been living in Rome since 1997.