Dr. Kevin Murphy
A native of Liverpool, Kevin Murphy has been the legal representative of UNH in Italy since 2011, and Director of the University of New Haven's Tuscany Campus in Prato since its foundation in 2012. He brings over 15 years of experience in international education as an instructor and director. He has taught courses and seminars in Italian Art History at many North American programs in Italy (such as Syracuse, Florida State, Gonzaga, Kent State), and for many years was Director of the Art History department at the British Institute of Florence. Before taking up his position in Prato, Kevin was Academic Dean and Campus Director of the CEA Global Education Programs in Rome and Florence (his collaboration with UNH began at CEA as UNH is the University of Record for all of CEA’s study abroad programs worldwide).
Kevin is active in the field of international education, and has presented sessions and workshops at conferences in Europe and the US, focused particularly on aspects of intercultural competence, experiential learning and the relationship between international study and careers. He is a member of the National Society for Experiential Education, from which he received his Experiential Education Academy Certificate of Completion in 2012. He is currently Chair of SAFSA (Study Abroad and Foreign Students Advisers), a professional section of the EAIE (European Association for International Education).
In 1997 he earned his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, UK, and has published on Italian Renaissance art and patronage. Kevin also teaches the course ‘Art & Science in Renaissance Italy’ at the Tuscany Campus. In his free time, Kevin enjoys travelling, reading, football and golf.
Lara Pugi was born in Florence, spent her childhood in the Chianti area and now lives in Prato.
During her time at the University of Florence, Lara worked in the marketing office of a clothing designer and manufacturer. After completing her degree in Media and Journalism, she continued to work in the communication and marketing fields, gaining experience in international firms that ranged from the pharmaceutical industry to the non-profit sector.
Lara has been working at the Tuscany Campus since its foundation in 2012. As Program Coordinator, her responsibilities include the Meal Plan, the Conversation Exchange program, the local immigration process, local press and media relations, and assists staff and students with classroom facilities, resources and IT needs. As a resident of Prato, she’s also an excellent resource for any information you may need on local shops, restaurants and services.
Lara has traveled throughout Europe and most recently visited the United States. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis and hiking and is especially interested in cinema, music and literature.
Alessandro Risaliti was born and raised in Prato. After graduating high school as a textile technician, he spent a month studying at the University of San Diego, perfecting his English.
As a representative of the textile industry for which Prato is famous, Alessandro has travelled and worked in several international locations throughout Europe, as well as overseas in places such as Canada and Hong Kong.
Alessandro has worked at the Tuscany Campus from the beginning, serving as a freelancer in the school’s daily operations. In March 2014, he joined the team as Program Coordinator, organizing the school’s Running Club, and providing the students with any information about activities in and around his native Prato.
In his spare time, Alessandro enjoys jogging, hiking, riding motorcycles, scuba diving, skiing, and collecting luxury watches.
Samantha Vaughn grew up in Albany, New York and earned her B.A. in History and Art History at The State University of New York at Fredonia. While at Fredonia, she participated in two short-term summer study abroad programs, the first in in Italy and the second in France.
In 2011, Samantha moved to Italy to earn her M.A. in Museum Studies through Marist College, where she divided her time between Florence, Padua, and Ferrara. Samantha returned to Italy permanently in the summer of 2013, working and interning in translation, tourism, and a local communications firm before joining the UNH Tuscany staff.
As Student Affairs Coordinator, Samantha ensures that students’ experience abroad is as rich as possible. She’s responsible for developing and coordinating student activities and serving as a contact for any health issues students may face while abroad. She also handles the social media accounts for the UNH Tuscany campus.
In her spare time, Samantha enjoys visiting museums, traveling around Italy and Europe, and scoping out new cafes to sit and read books in (which she also does in her spare time).
Michiel Vandenbempt grew up in Belgium before moving to Florence in the summer of 2012. Michiel earned his B.A. in Social-Cultural Work and after that a Master in Cultural Management at the University of Antwerp.
While studying in Belgium, Michiel worked in a Cultural Centre, as a researcher in a museum and as an organizer of cultural and sport events. After moving to Italy and before joining UNH Tuscany, Michiel gained valuable experience while working in the student services office at the International Studies Institute at Palazzo Rucellai in Florence.
As Student Affairs Coordinator, Michiel’s responsibilities include planning and organizing excursions and activities. He’s also in charge of the communication and makes sure that every student is informed about upcoming events in and around the school. Moreover, Michiel takes care of emergency issues and offers help in case of health concerns.
In his spare time, Michiel enjoys watching and playing sports such as soccer, cycling and running. Furthermore, he enjoys exploring the Italian landscape and travelling through the rest of Europe.
Student Affairs Coordinator
Valentina Seffer grew up in the south of Italy, Palermo, Sicily. She holds a B.A. in Foreign Languages and Teaching of Italian as a Second Language from Università degli Studi di Palermo and an M.A. in Linguistics and International Communication (concentration: teaching Italian for foreigners) from Università per Stranieri di Siena (Foreigners University of Siena). Valentina completed her PhD in Italian Studies at The University of Sydney. She also holds the DITALS Certificate, Level 2, for the teaching of Italian at all levels, issued by Università per Stranieri di Siena, as well as the CELTA certificate to teach English as a foreign and second language, issued by the University of Cambridge. Throughout her years of work and study, Valentina has acquired valuable experience in the areas of academic research, language teaching, administration, and organization of events working in different academic environments, both in Italy and in Australia.
As Student Affairs Coordinator, Valentina acts as one of the main points of reference for students and ensures their experience is as rich as possible. She is responsible for developing and coordinating student activities and serving as a contact for any health issues students may face while abroad.
In her spare time, Valentina likes to travel to spend time with friends and family scattered around Italy and Europe. She also likes to learn foreign languages and keeps saying she will, eventually, start learning piano.
Emergency Phone Director
Stefano Giusti was born and raised in Prato. He decided to move to the U.S. some years ago, where he became fluent in English. He spent nine years in Providence, RI, working in home improvement, before returning back to Italy with his family.
He spent his immediate years after coming back to Prato repairing guitars, a life-long passion. He joined the UNH Tuscany team in 2013, where his primary role is to respond to calls made to the Emergency Phone by all students.
He enjoys his job and takes it very seriously, as he understands how important it is for students far from home to be able to call someone when they unexpectedly need help.
Tour Guide & Housing Manager
From Prato, Silvia graduated 'cum laude' (with honor) in modern languages at the University of Florence with a specialization in British literature and the Grand Tour. After many years working in the family textile agency as export manager, in 2002 she became a professional tour guide for the Provinces of Prato and Florence. In the same year she began organizing educational conferences and historical tours for the Monash University center in Prato.
She is an active translator and research assistant for writers and scholars. Since 2012 she has also been active in the creation and development of the Tuscany Campus. Her responsibilities include faculty and student housing, excursions and activities, as well as programming and onsite teaching for special group visits to Prato. She loves the sea, traveling, reading, walking, food and wine.