History of Italian at OU

The first courses in Italian were given in 1912-1913.  The teacher was Patricio Gimeno, who became best known on the campus for his art works which are all over the Bizzell Library (the two big murals as you enter the south door---Dante and Beatrice; Blind Milton Dictating "Paradise Lost" to His Daughters), the portraits of the early presidents and others in the great reading room, and more. Gimeno was born in Peru, probably on Christmas day, 1862.  His father was Spanish and his mother was Italian. He studied art at the Valencia Academy and tried to make his living as an artist, but failed.  He somehow ended up teaching Spanish at Epworth College (Oklahoma City University). He came to OU in 1911 to teach Spanish, but also offered two courses in elementary Italian. In those days, there was a Department of Romance Languages and Gimeno and C. Lucille Dora were the two faculty members. She was a mysterious person, somewhat of a campus character (she pronounced her name “Doraaay”, unlike other members of her family.) Her age and education background was uncertain. In April 1918, the State Board of Education (which was like the Board of Regents between 1912 and 1919) decreed that the independent departments of French, Spanish, Italian, and German be combined into a new Dept. called Modern Languages, the change to go into effect on September 1, 1918. The decorative fountain between Adams Hall and Buchanan Hall on the sidewalk leading to the Union is a memorial to Patricio Gimeno.

In 1919-1920, two other professors arrived. One was Eugenia Kaufman (the building is named for her brother Kenneth, not for her). She taught for 37 years--Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese. The second was Stephen Satori, who also taught Italian at OU. He was born in New Orleans, and his father was an Italian farmer. His mother was Spanish. He graduated from Tulane in 1914 and went to U of Michigan. His major interest was Spanish (like his colleague Gimeno). Gimeno and Scatori wrote a couple of Spanish textbooks together. Scatori was best known as the professor who cared about, and took care of, international students.  He wrote to them before they arrived, he took them through enrollment, he and his wife brought them home, etc. He retired in 1957, having shepherded through the University around 250 international students. Stephen’s wife, Mrs. Scatori, described her husband's concern for international students in article written by Bill Massad in Sooner Magazine issue number 27 from December 1954 entitled "Away from Home Father.” She said that she remembered times "when we have had as many as 17 foreign students seated in one room or around the table, with possibly as many as six or seven different languages being spoken." She claims that his formula for cooking spaghetti and meatballs (never use American cheese, always use olive oil, and never overcook) was well known around the campus.

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