John Felice Rome Center
The John Felice Rome Center is a campus of Loyola University Chicago in Rome, Italy. The center was originally founded as CIVIS (Casa Italiana Viaggi Internazionali Studenti) in January 1962, hosted on premises originally built for the Olympic Village of the 1960 Summer Olympics, and leased from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1966 the school relocated to Monte Mario, an upscale area in northwest Rome which is the highest point in the city. After two intermediate relocations, it moved in 1978 to its present location, on Via Massimi, in a residential neighborhood on Monte Mario. In Spring 2009, Loyola University Chicago purchased the building and surrounding property, making Monte Mario the permanent home of the Rome Center.
The school and its program was founded by Rev. John P. Felice, a Maltese Jesuit who had become a U.S. citizen. Felice's dream and life's work centered on this school. Felice had been an intelligence officer in the British Eighth Army during World War II and served as a liaison officer under General George Patton in preparation for the invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland.
Entering the Jesuit order, Felice was ordained a Jesuit priest and assigned to teach theology at Loyola University of Chicago. His dream of a campus where American students could live and study abroad was realized with the founding of the Loyola University "Rome Center" in 1962. Felice was its founder and served as its director until 1973. Shortly thereafter he left the priesthood. However he remained continuously associated with the Rome Center throughout his life, first as a "consultant" and then returning in various administrative positions, finally returning as director in the late 1980s.
Felice was known for his vast Roman connections that stretched from the Vatican, to the carabinieri and the government of Italy. He was also a great leader and inspiration for the now thousands of young people who have attended the "Rome Center." He never failed to have time for a student, Italian worker, family member or visiting alum.
Felice "retired" as director in 1998 and was named "Director Emeritus." The Center was renamed the "John Felice Rome Center of Loyola University Chicago" (JFRC) in honor of John Felice in 2005. (The previous official name was "The Rome Center of Liberal Arts".) Today, in the circles of Loyola and the JFRC alumni, which now total over 14,000, Felice is revered for his leadership and innovation in developing the JFRC, his persistent dedication to the JFRC and his untiring work on behalf of the JFRC until his death in early 2008.
Today the JFRC is the second largest study abroad program in Italy and one of the oldest and most successful in Western Europe. Over 400 students attend either or both semesters each year. Today the JFRC is led by its Director, Emilio Iodice, a former diplomat, best selling author, professor and business leader. Iodice joined the JFRC in 2007. Since then, the Rome Center went through a dramatic transformation. In 2009 the campus, where the JFRC currently resides, was purchased assuring a permanent home for the Rome Center. An ambitious and highly successful fund raising effort was spearheaded by Iodice to renovate the current facilities and plan for the construction of a new building to house the growing number of students who wish to study at the JFRC. New academic programs were begun including Rome Start, which is the freshman year in Rome for international students, Prolaw, which is a Masters in the Rule of Law and a dual degree with Loyola Andalucia and Loyola University Chicago. The administrative and student life departments of the JFRC took on more student focused activities and improved management and financial processes and procedures. By 2016, the JFRC was considered the benchmark for best practices in the management of study abroad programs. In addition, the Rome Center became the standard for safety and security for American campuses abroad and worked to assist other US universities to improve their security measures.
In addition to offering a rich liberal arts curriculum, the JFRC has and continues to sponsor several unique and innovative study tours for its students throughout Italy and to places as diverse as Greece, Poland and Northern Ireland.
In the Spring of 2008, it hosted to wide acclaim its first international conference, "The Cross, The Crescent and the Ballot Box", a two-day symposium regarding the history and common ground of Islam and Christianity.
Undergraduate enrollment each year is approximately 400 students. Most of the students are Loyola students, while others are from various other universities in the United States, and often from other Jesuit Institutions.