The quintessential Renaissance man now has a permanent home at an institution known for embodying his interdisciplinary ideals.
UW-Green Bay officially unveiled its new statue of Leonardo da Vinci May 14 with a ceremony, concert and reception on campus. A gift of the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, the 550-pound bust now resides in the Lenfestey Courtyard of Mary Ann Cofrin Hall.
Campus and community members joined Paolo Del Bianco, who started the foundation that is named for his father, in dedicating the statue as a tribute to international education and partnership. The businessman and philanthropist from Florence, Italy, received an honorary doctorate from UW-Green Bay in 2007, and has partnered with UW-Green Bay Profs. Sarah Meredith Livingston and Ray Hutchison, among others, to foster international exchange. UW-Green Bay was the first U.S. university to connect with the Del Bianco foundation, and is the only stateside institution receiving a da Vinci bust — one of just five to be donated worldwide — from the foundation.
“I would like to express my gratitude in this important moment,” Del Bianco said, moments after the statue was unveiled. “(I want) to thank your university because we have had an opportunity to learn a lot from you and from the opportunity you have given your students to arrive in Florence and to share with us a common experience. … With your efforts, you have given power and ideas to the foundation.”
UW-Green Bay is grateful for the cooperation and relationship with Del Bianco, his family and the foundation, added Chancellor Tom Harden. He also praised the role of Len and Dotty Seidl, who donated the marble pedestal for the statue, as well as the city of Green Bay and Mayor Jim Schmitt, who was on hand for the festivities.
“We also understand that we represent two great cities, Florence and Green Bay, and we’re both very aware that it’s from our families, from our communities that a lot of greatness comes,” Harden said. “And my new friend, my new brother Paolo and I will pledge to keep this cooperation and collaboration going.”
A program in the MAC Hall Winter Garden preceded da Vinci’s debut, featuring UW-Green Bay Provost Julia Wallace as emcee. Harden and Director of International Education Brent Blahnik offered brief remarks, as did Nancy Loberger, representing Rotary District 6220. UW-Green Bay Prof. Derek Jeffreys, who speaks Italian and has organized student travel courses to Florence, read Giacomo Leopardi’s poem “The Infinite” in Italian and English, delighting attendees before the group migrated outside for the big reveal.
After the statue’s unveiling — and plenty of photo ops — the group took una passeggiata (a walk) to the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Attendees enjoyed an Italian-themed concert featuring UW-Green Bay faculty, students and alumni, as well as members of the Club ItaloAmericano of Green Bay, before a reception closed out the evening — but by no means the partnership.
“Thanks a lot to all of you, from our deep part of our hearts,” Del Bianco said. “Thank you very much to the mayor and thanks a lot to the chancellor. I think we have a serious plan for future activity together. It is a pleasure to work with all of you.”