Rombs assumes role
Dr. Peter Hatlie has retired from his role as vice president and dean and director of the Rome program. Dr. Ronnie Rombs, who previously held the role of associate dean and director of the Rome program, has assumed the role of dean and director as of the 2023-2024 academic year. In addition to his new position, Rombs will remain the coordinator of campus ministry and director of the Office of Student Affairs on the Due Santi campus.
Hatlie first came to the Due Santi campus while on sabbatical leave from his employer, the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the State University of Groningen in the Netherlands where he was a tenured associate professor of Byzantine History, Language and Literature. He was offered a full-time position at Due Santi in 2001. In 2003, he filled the position of interim academic dean, a role which was made permanent in 2005. Hatlie was made director of the Rome program in 2008 and vice president in 2013.
In his two decades of experience on the Due Santi campus, Hatlie has found his favorite part of the Rome experience to be the interplay between the books read in the classroom and the places experienced throughout the semester.
“Whether the learning experience consists of seeing the Parthenon with one’s own eyes or running in the ancient stadium of Olympia with your classmates, such experiences raise and intensify the value and impact of these sites and all of the history and culture they represent immensely,” Hatlie said.
However, many students have found Hatlie to be one of their favorite parts of their Rome semester.
Katrine Christensen, former Rome Resident Coordinator, said, “Any student that has gone through the Rome program in the last 23 years can attest to the sheer amount of knowledge Dr. Hatlie contains and as well as his kindness and understanding. As his staff, I appreciated his attention to detail, his honesty, and really his friendship. That means the most to me.”
“I get the sense there’s a cult of Dr. Hatlie among the students,” joked Dr. Andrew Moran, professor of English and director of summer Rome programs. “There should be a temple on the campus for offerings.”
Moran praised Hatlie for improving the beauty of the Due Santi campus, making substantial improvements to the dining services and effectively reorganizing the Greece trip to be both cheaper and better. “I don’t think people are as aware that he has a kind of savvy as an administrator that you almost never come across in academics,” said Moran.
Although Hatlie is going on a sabbatical, he plans to return to work on the Due Santi campus in the future. During his sabbatical, he plans to conduct research in his field of expertise, Byzantine studies.
Hatlie’s position will be assumed by Rombs in addition to the others he already holds.
“He’s kind of head of everything right now. He’s got a lot on his plate,” said Moran. “He’s a man of tremendous energy. He’s academic director, campus director, OSA director. He’s going to be very busy.”
To facilitate this change in leadership, Rombs took on the role of associate dean and director of the Rome Program and worked closely with Hatlie. In addition, he has over a decade of experience with the Rome Program, most notably as director of the Summer Rome Program from 2012 to 2022, a position now held by Moran.
“We hope that in this transition of leadership, we will be able to continue what has been happening so successfully during Dr. Hatlie’s tenure,” said Matthias Vorwerk, provost. “The primary focus is on making sure that things continue well, so we want to provide Dr. Rombs with the support that he needs to make that happen.”
One challenge Rombs faces on the Due Santi campus is finding help with campus ministry. Since the relocation of Monsignor Thomas Fucinaro, Rombs has taken the role of coordinator of campus ministry as of spring 2022, but finding priests to assist on campus is difficult.
“We are exploring different possibilities to find a priest that will be able to not just come in and say Mass – it’s always possible to find someone who can do that on occasion – but someone who is also willing to spend the time to accompany students while they are on the Rome campus,” said Vorwerk.
Despite the staffing challenges on the Due Santi campus, Rombs will begin his leadership role in earnest with the fall 2023 Rome class.
“He clearly has a vision of how UD Rome has operated under my 18-year tenure,” said Hatlie. “And now will be able to add his own vision [to] this valuable and excellent program.”
|1999||Introduced to the Due Santi campus|
|2003||Interim Academic Dean|
|2005||Permanent Academic Dean|
|2008||Director of the Rome Program|