Michael Giovannetti is a familiar name to many at Fresno State. Throughout his life, Giovannetti has given back to the university and the Fresno area in multiple ways.
“I have been blessed all of my life with many gifts. Therefore, giving back to the College of Arts and Humanities is an honor and a privilege for me,” says Giovannetti.
His love for the Arts and Humanities stemmed from his Italian roots, growing up near Lucca, Tuscany, a short distance from Florence, Pisa, and other places of artistic significance. Every town in Italy, he felt, was a work of art. His interest was further nurtured by his parents, family members, and the local Catholic church.
“Michael Giovannetti exemplifies everything we hope for in a graduate from our College: after coming to America from Italy as a boy, he earned a Spanish BA and MA, and then devoted his life to teaching for decades, eventually pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership, too,” said Dr. Honora Chapman, interim Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State.
Giovannetti came to Fresno State as an international student in 1968 to study Spanish and literature. He enjoyed his experience so much that after graduating in 1970 he continued his studies to receive his M.A. in Spanish language and literature in 1972 and a secondary education teaching credential.
“I credit my love for teaching primarily to the outstanding educators in the Department of Foreign Languages at Fresno State,” says Giovannetti. “They were clearly the mentors and master teachers everyone should experience prior to their first teaching assignment and throughout one’s educational journey.”
The Department of Foreign Languages is now called the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.
Since then, Giovannetti has collaborated with colleagues from the College of Arts and Humanities and the Kremen School of Education and Human Development and has worked for Fresno Unified, Fresno City College, Central Unified, Sanger Unified, and San Joaquin Memorial High School.
In 2001, he completed the Joint Doctorate degree program in educational leadership at Fresno State and UC Davis. After his retirement from the school district in 2004, he taught educational leadership classes at Fresno State and was Executive Director of the Renaissance Group, a national consortium of colleges, universities, schools/districts with a commitment to the preparation of educational professionals.
“I cannot imagine my life without the presence, friendship, and the unconditional support of teachers, administrators, colleagues, and friends from Fresno State.”
Michael Giovannetti is currently on the committee tasked with the creation of the Italian Studies Program. The ultimate goal is to offer all students exciting opportunities to complete an interdisciplinary minor in Italian studies in conjunction with other disciplines on the Fresno State campus.
“His love of learning and serving his community continues to inspire us as he now participates in our Italian Studies community committee in order to increase excitement and financial support for our new Italian Studies program,” said Chapman.
Giovannetti believes the program will have successful outcomes, especially with strong support from the university, the Italian community and friends. He explains how it will offer new educational and cultural opportunities to students in the Central San Joaquin Valley and beyond.
“It will also be a unique model for sharing the rich Italian culture, history, traditions and beautiful language, while honoring the many immigrant Italians, who worked tirelessly, and sacrificed much in order to pave the way for a better life in America. Their families are now able to enjoy the ‘American Dream.’”
Giovannetti’s reasons for supporting the College of Arts and Humanities and the Dean’s Council are simple. He’s happy to support the team who puts students first with high quality innovative programs and services. Having worked closely with the leadership and staff for the past two plus years, he appreciates how the college always pays it forward by investing in their students.
He has been on the recipient end for his own education. In 1959, when he had finished his formal schooling in Italy at the age of 12, his aunt and uncle brought him to the United States to further his education.
Now, throughout the years, he has seen how time, energy, talents and resources contributed by generous supporters of the College of Arts and Humanities have realized huge dividends. Because of the additional resources, more students will be able to complete their educational goals. Many more will be able to study abroad and have access to experiences previously only imagined.
“Whether setting up and then joining us for community speaking events or creating a connection with the University of Modena, Michael has been a champion of Fresno State and its commitment to humanistic learning. We are so grateful for his enthusiastic support!” said Chapman.
In the end, Giovannetti reminds us that “[The students] will become outstanding teachers, doctors, artists, musicians, engineers, lawyers, and providers of the many services we need and receive each and every day.”
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When asked how it feels to give back, he says it’s the least he could do.
“It’s truly a wonderful feeling.”
Humbly, he adds that he sees the College of Arts and Humanities as the ‘heart’ of the university and the community; he is merely one of its many fans.