I am trying to come up with something to say about the OUA Staff, about how no matter what happened someone had an answer and an easy fix, and about how you guys made it really easy for me to feel safe and like no matter what happened there was a plan and a way to fix it all, but that experience of having what I am calling my OUA Family just leaves me at a loss for words. I would have been completely lost without all of you. I don't think I could have done it without feeling like all of you guys had my back, and I can't thank you guys enough for allowing me to have this experience with the comfort of knowing you were there for me.
- Sarah Ex, OU in Arezzo Spring 2013
Director of Italian Programs
Kirk Duclaux is OU’s on-site Director of Italian programs in Italy. He is currently living in Italy with his wife Charlotte and their two sons, Max and Alessio, teaching Italian Decorative Complexes and overseeing the whole program on the ground in Arezzo. He received his undergraduate degree in Art History from the University of Cincinnati 's College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning and his graduate degree from the Renaissance Art History Program that Syracuse University offered in Florence, Italy. Kirk has been travelling around in Italy and educating people about art for years, even working as a guide for the American Embassy in Rome and the American Consulate in Florence before building up OU’s own study abroad program which is today thriving in the heart of Tuscany.
Director of Student Affairs
Charlotte Duclaux is OUA’s on-site Director of Student Affairs in Italy. She is currently living in Arezzo with her husband Kirk and their two sons, Max and Alessio. Charlotte oversees student’s housing, incoming orientation and information sessions and student cultural activities. She received her undergraduate degree in Spanish and Secondary Education from the University of Cincinnati and her graduate degree in Hispanic Civilization at New York University in Madrid. Charlotte has been living abroad for most of her professional career, in both Spain and Italy. She has been an educator and administrative coordinator for years and joined the OU staff in 2009. As a former study abroad student herself, she understands the challenges that OU students can experience when living in a foreign country and tries to help OU students get the most out of the study abroad experience.
OUA Study Abroad Advisor
Kaydee earned a Masters of Adult and Higher Education at the University of Oklahoma in 2013. During her graduate program she served as the OU in Arezzo Graduate Resident Director in Arezzo, Italy. Kaydee also has a B.A. in Public Relations and minor in Non-Profit Management from the University of Oklahoma. In her spare time she likes to travel and spend time with her golden retriever.
Student Services Coordinator
Lucio Bianchi is OUA’s Student Services Coordinator. He is Italian and was born and raised in the Arezzo area. He has an undergraduate degree in Foreign Languages and Cultural Mediation from the Universita’ degli Studi di Siena in Arezzo. He knows a lot about OU campus life because he won a grant to study at the University of Oklahoma in Norman during the fall of 2008. It was one of the most enriching experiences he had ever had and he fell in love with the philosophy of colleges and the approach that English-speaking countries have towards higher education. Lucio is an easy-going person who likes to meet new people and to learn new perspectives because he believes that recognizing differences in others can help a person enrich him/herself.
Graduate Resident Director
Kala Sellers is OUA’s Graduate Resident Director. She joined the OUA team in May 2017 for a year-long assistantship while working on her studies at OU. She received her B.A. in English with a minor in African and African-American studies at OU in the Spring of 2013. Kala is currently working towards a Masters in Adult and Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs. She primarily helps Charlotte and Leanna in working to take care of student’s needs while they study in Arezzo. In addition to her Student Affairs duties, she also advises the Student Activities Council, a group made up of students who want to get more involved during their time abroad. Prior to working with OUA, Kala worked for OU as a Resident Advisor for three years during her undergrad. After graduating, she worked on campus for a year and then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia from 2014 through 2016. She couldn’t wait to return to OU after her Peace Corps service. Nine days after her return to America, Kala began work as a Resident Director at Traditions Square West. Kala is passionate about empowering students. She firmly believes in the importance of studying abroad, as her own time studying in Ghana helped prepare her for the cultural literacy increasingly required for active participation in today’s society. Kala is excited to help OUA students delve into their study abroad experience head-on with patience, passion, and a fair amount of positivity.
CENTER COORDINATOR at the Kathleen and Francis Rooney Family Residential Learning Center
Leanna Payton is the Center Coordinator of the Kathleen and Francis Rooney Family Residential Learning Center for OU in Arezzo. She oversees the daily operations and functions of the facility and works closely with the students to ensure their success while residing in the monastery. From facilitating getting a maintenance issue fixed to being a listening ear for student problems, Leanna will ensure students receive the finest service while living and studying in Arezzo. Leanna is from Benton, Arkansas and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism in 2009 from the University of Arkansas. She then continued her education at the University of Oklahoma and finished in 2011 with a Master of Education degree in Adult and Higher Education with an emphasis in the field of Student Affairs. Upon graduating, Leanna continued her education and worked for the OU in Arezzo program as the first Graduate Resident Director from 2011 – 2012. Afterwards, she served as a Residence Hall Director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for three years. Leanna joined the OU in Arezzo team again in July 2015 as the first Center Coordinator of the Kathleen and Francis Rooney Family Residential Learning Center. Working for OU in Arezzo combines her passion of helping college students succeed with her love of adventure and she promises the most amazing experience for OUA Sooners!
Italian Language Instructor
Patrizia Ghezzi is one of OUA’s Italian Language teachers. Patrizia was born and raised in Arezzo where she lives with her husband and son. She teaches Italian and has a love for languages. She is fluent in English, with a British accent! She received her graduate degree in English Language and Literature at the University of Florence. She studied abroad to improve her English and she considers this experience one of the best of her life. She has worked as a professional translator and freelance teacher of English for state-run schools and private organizations and companies. At a certain point of her career she realized that she wanted a change. In 2005 she obtained a diploma to teach Italian as a Foreign Language at the University of Siena. She started teaching Italian and understood that this was the professional experience that she was looking for. Patrizia has been teaching for OU in Arezzo since 2010.
Marta Agnelli is OUA’s Office Manager. She was born and raised in Arezzo and at the age of 19 moved to Florence to study at the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy, where she got a degree in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures. As a teenager she had the opportunity to stay for long periods in the US and to travel throughout Europe. Before graduating, she worked in England as Group and Activity Leader for Italian students and in Austria as Italian Language Lecturer for High School. She worked for an American multinational company in Florence for 12 years before joining the OUA team in 2010. She lives in Arezzo with her husband Francesco and their two children, Michelangelo and Olivia.
Special Program Coordinator
Ursula Armstrong is OUA’s Special Program Coordinator. She oversees the OUA summer programs that color the town of Arezzo from May through July. She was born and grew up in the UK where she got her undergraduate degree at the University of East Anglia in English and American Literature. She then went on to study English as a foreign language and came to Italy to teach. During her first year in the country she fell in love with the Italian language, culture and way of life and decided to prolong her experience there. She now lives in Arezzo with her husband and three children, Isobel, Giovanni and Jamie. After several years of language teaching she began working with an Italian Non Profit in the field of Peace Education. This experience was to last 10 years and allowed her to work with young adults from all over the world both as an educator and administrator. She has recently joined the OUA team and is looking forward to enhancing the summer experience for OU study abroad students and faculty.
Faculty in Residence: 2017-18
Dr. Joshua Landis is the current Faculty in Residence at OU in Arezzo. He is teaching courses Political Islam and Modern Europe (Gen. Ed. Non-Western Culture) He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts over 100,000 readers a month. He was educated at Swarthmore (BA), Harvard (MA), and Princeton (PhD). He has lived over 14 years in the Middle East and speaks Arabic and French fluently. He has lived four years in Syria, and spent most summers in Damascus until the revolution began.He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio. (See: Landis in the News) Most recently he has appeared on PBS News Hour. Dr Landis lives with his wife, Manar and their two children, Kendall and Jonah at the Kathleen and Francis Rooney Family Residential Learning Center in Arezzo. The ‘FIR family’ enjoy dinners with students and program outings to local places with students such as the Perugia Chocolate Festival in October.
Italian Language Instructor
Antonio Cioni is one of OUA’s Italian Language teachers. Antonio was born and raised in Anghiari, a small village in Tuscany. He received his bachelor’s degree in Cultural Heritage from the Università di Perugia and his master’s degree in Anthropology and Etnology from Bologna University. In 2010 Antonio earned a certification for teaching Italian as a second language from Siena University. He worked with immigrants, refugees after Arabic spring, English and American people residing in Italy as well as the London Southbank Orchestra, teaching Italian to Simon Over, the Director of the Westminster Choir. Antonio also taught Italian at Rondine Cittadella della Pace, a peace-building organization based in Tuscany where students come from countries in conflict to study together, and Meredith College’s abroad program in Sansepolcro.
FACULTY IN RESIDENCE: 2018-19
Dr. Jane Wickersham is an associate professor of Italian history, particularly the Renaissance, Reformation and Counter Reformation eras. She has traveled extensively in Italy for 20 years to do archival research, including in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Modena, Siena, and Venice, among others. Her first book, Rituals of Prosecution, concerned the Italian Inquisition’s use of religious ritual to prosecute Protestant heretics in the sixteenth century. Her current research project examines the Papal States’ prosecution of morality crimes (adultery, sacrilege, sodomy, etc.) in the Counter Reformation era.
As FIR at OU in Arezzo, Professor Wickersham looks forward to integrating site visits and travel experiences directly into her courses, which will include HIST3073 The Renaissance, HIST3183 Italy: Making the Nation?, and HIST3120 The Sacred and the Secular in Medieval and Early Modern Italy (all Western Civilization courses). Teaching and learning Italian history in Italy is truly a unique and enriching experience! FIR activities will include site visits to San Gimignano and the medieval castle at Poppi (in the fall), and Orvieto and the Abbazia Sant’Antimo (in the spring), in addition to the usual OUA trips to Rome, Florence, and Siena, among others. Professor Wickersham also will hold risotto cooking classes (her favorite dish!), movie nights, and engage in other cultural activities. She looks forward to sharing her love of all things Italian with students, and introducing them to the Tuscan region—especially a bit off the beaten path!