Ambassador Phillips welcomed by Rector Massimo Carpinelli

[PRESS RELEASE] John Phillips welcomed by UNISS students

Thursday, 12 May 2016

U.S. policy in Syria, private donors flooding election campaigns, immigration, restriction on weapon possession, are only some of the topics covered by the questions posed by the students of the University of Sassari to the Ambassador of the United States to Italy, John Phillips. Today, the Aula Magna of the University of Sassari hosted the Ambassador's first official visit to Sardinia: being a firm supporter of Democratic positions, appointed by Barack Obama in 2013, Mr. Phillips was welcomed by an audience of inquiring students, posing accurate and smart questions, and by Rector Magnificus Massimo Carpinelli, the Academic Senate, the authorities, the professors and the staff of the University of Sassari.

Presidential elections were but one of the topics covered by the speech given by John Phillips. He offered a brief recap of U.S. history through the U.S. Constitution, the mechanics of federal governments, the important role played by immigration (and his personal experience as a member of an immigrant family), the scourge of slavery and racism, and the U-turn with the election of the first African-American president. On Barack Obama, a leader but also a good friend of his, John Phillips mentioned his major reforms aimed at supporting the automotive industry and, above all, a more inclusive healthcare system. "Even if he has not been able to do everything he wanted to, he helped raise the GDP and increase employment after the horrible 2008-2009 crisis".

Now, elections are at the gates: from November 8, the White House will have a new tenant, perhaps a woman? "I can't say anything at this time, but it's possible." Hillary Clinton is the opposite of her competitor, Donald Trump. She is well-known, having served for more than 20 years. She is a smart and intelligent woman, but Trump, the "outsider" entrepreneur, enjoys much support because he is new to the game, although his restrictive immigration policy is not welcomed by voters. The students' questions also explored the competition between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the latter having lost during the primary elections and now required to take a position in favour or against Hillary.

At the end of the conference, the Ambassador of the United States of America expressed his deep appreciation for the students' witty questions, he was presented the historic seal of the University by Rector Carpinelli as a tribute to the long-lasting collaboration with the Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Italy – having collaborated during the previous presidential elections, in international conferences and sessions to present the opportunities offered by the prestigious Fulbright academic exchange program. "John Phillips has a deep knowledge of our country; he knows that in Italy, even small realities conceal a great past," said Rector Carpinelli – and certainly the Ambassador will extend his appreciation for Italy also to our universities, our city and our region."

This is a further step forward in the relations between the University of Sassari and the United States, which will boost new opportunities for study and research available to UNISS students and scholars. Many collaborations are active with American scholars in technologically advanced research fields. Researchers and professors of the University are also engaged in comparative studies on the transformation of U.S. politics, economy, culture and society. Since 2006, UNISS has hosted 58 Visiting Professors from the United States, and the U.S. is a core destination for students traveling under the ULISSE programme, sponsored by the University of Sassari.