Born in Italy in 1938, Leonardo G. Sbrocchi received his teaching diploma in 1956 and immigrated to Toronto two months later. He worked different jobs for two years and received his BA in modern languages from the University of Toronto in 1962, followed by an MA from the University of Washington in 1963 and a PhD in European studies from the University of Toronto in 1969. He came to uOttawa as a visiting professor in 1977, and received tenure in 1978 and a full professorship in 1982. He established a concentration and an honours program in Italian Studies, and through his ties with the Italian embassy he secured equipment, books, films and a lettore for uOttawa. He engaged the community through film series and conferences featuring speakers such as G. Bassani, U. Eco and D. Maraini, and organized several international congresses. In 1978, he became secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Society for Italian Studies. He was instrumental in founding Quaderni d’Italianistica in 1980, and in 1983, Biblioteca di Quaderni d’Italianistica, a series that he edited. He received the Renato Fucini medal in 1978 for his monograph Renato Fucini: l’uomo e l’opera. He published articles on Manzoni, Pascoli, Carducci, Croce and Pirandello, and translated plays into English by Ariosto, Aretino, Bibbiena, Machiavelli and Pirandello. For the Harbourfront Festival, he translated short stories by Enzo Siciliano and a play by Dacia Maraini. In 1987, he established the publishing house Legas, which encouraged many colleagues in various departments to publish their work. In 2004, the Italian government made him a “cavaliere.”
First of all, I would like to point out the diversity of Dr. Sbrocchi’s interests and activities—the wide range of courses he taught, his administrative involvement at the local and international level, and his editorship and scholarly publications. One should also mention his academic ties with Italy and his impressive record of lectures on various aspects of Italian studies—in Canada and the U.S., and in European countries.
As a teacher he is superb. This I know from student evaluations during my tenure as chair of Modern Languages and Literatures, as a colleague joining him in class panel discussions, and from the general reputation that he has earned from his former students. Dr. Sbrocchi has been a source of inspiration for both undergraduate and graduate students. His enthusiasm and profound knowledge of spoken Italian and Latin, as well as of the most intricate aspects of Italian grammar, not to mention his organizational talent, were invariably transmitted to his students and earned him their unmitigated respect. Because of his interest in applied linguistics, he was able to add the latest language teaching techniques to his storehouse of experience.
Furthermore, he undertook the radical rebuilding of the entire Italian section, as well as the overall revision of undergraduate offerings, bringing in new technology (much of this secured from the Italian government through its embassy in Ottawa). He also facilitated student exchanges with Italy. All these innovations continue to serve the Department well, even now, some seven years after his retirement.
In terms of research, Dr. Sbrocchi’s work and his publishing house, Legas have contributed enormously to the dissemination of solid publications by both young and seasoned scholars.
In short, Leonardo Sbrocchi may be proud of his achievements as head of the Italian section, which he administered with enthusiasm and competence. His decisions were always inspired by his desire to promote high academic standards, to be fair to all colleagues and to favour the best interests of students, as well as the community at large.
Apart from his obvious achievements and his reputation as an accomplished scholar, Dr. Sbrocchi has struck me and my colleagues as a person of quiet integrity and modest character, with an exceptional sense of discretion and a warm demeanour.
Testimonial presented by Professor Andrew Donskov on September 24, 2011.