On awarding the honorary degrees, AUR's President, Dr. Scott Sprenger, highlighted the inspirational models that both Mr. Petrini and Ms. Lahiri provided for AUR students. He continued with the following laudations:

It brings me great joy to bestow AUR's highest honors upon Mr. Petrini and Ms. Lahiri, whose talent and unwavering dedication to their ideals have significantly enriched humanity and culture.  

Let me begin with Carlo Petrini. When considering Mr. Petrini, the AUR community unanimously decided to honor him for three significant reasons: First, his humanistic philosophy, dedicated to preserving the unique identities of local peoples, cultures, and traditions and to resisting the homogenizing influences of global monoculture. Secondly, his powerful writing and unwavering political activism serve as inspiration to our current generation of students who are committed - more than any in recent memory - to transcending their own self-interests for the greater good of the world. And lastly, his distinctive approach to improving the human condition by focusing on the sacred relationship between “humans and food” has sparked transformative discussions and actions, even on our campus, in connection to the faculty and students in our Master of Arts in Food Studies. 

Beyond founding the Slow Food movement, which is now represented in 160 countries, Carlo Petrini also founded the University of Gastronomic Sciences--the first university of its kind in the world; dedicated to the proposition that food should remain “good, clean and fair”—meaning that food should be delicious while being sourced locally and produced in the most ethical and sustainable manner possible.  

Through the Slow Food movement, his many writings, his activism, and through his university, Carlo Petrini has tirelessly brought to the world’s attention the importance of responsibly maintaining local food cultures, supporting small-scale farmers, and raising awareness around social and environmental sustainability in food production and consumption.  

For this body of important work and for his substantial impact on the world, I am deeply honored to use the authority invested in me by the District of Columbia, and the State of Delaware, to confer upon Mr. Petrini the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa.   



Now, to Ms. Jhumpa Lahiri. The American University of Rome takes great pride in its liberal arts programming, especially in the fields of language and literature, both in English and in Italian, in which Ms. Lahiri has forged an extraordinarily brilliant career. Indeed, the conferral of AUR's highest honor serves as a testament to our community's admiration for her exceptional talent, dedication to the art of writing, and the enduring impact she has made on the contemporary literary world. Moreover, we recognize and celebrate Ms. Lahiri's extraordinary passion for and devotion to the Italian language and culture, a sentiment that many of us share and understand. 

Born in England to Bengalese parents and raised in the United States, Jhumpa Lahiri's insightful exploration of life lived between cultures and languages has been a consistent theme throughout her body of work, from her earliest writings to her latest masterpiece, Racconti Romani. Through her always eloquent prose, she skillfully navigates the complexities of the modern condition, delving into the alienated emotions and identities of individuals caught between two, or in her case, three worlds. 

Since the remarkable debut of Ms. Lahiri's collection of short stories, "Interpreter of Maladies," she has continued to grace the literary world with one brilliant novel after another, garnering prestigious accolades such as the O. Henry Award, the Pen/Hemingway Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Humanities Medal, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among many others. 

Ms. Lahiri's venture into the realm of Italian literature came as a delightful surprise to her devoted readers when in 2015, she published a New Yorker article, "Teach Yourself Italian," about her experience of learning Italian, in which she declared that she would henceforth write in Italian. That same year, she published her first book in Italian, In altre parole, (or In Other Words), in which she wrote, “I waited a very long time to really go away from the world I knew. Rome has given me a sense of belonging.”  

I would like to highlight the significance of In altre parole for the AUR community, as many of our students are drawn to Rome from various corners of the world by a similar mysterious attraction to - and love for - Italian culture and language, which Ms. Lahiri masterfully describes. Her extremely moving reflections on the transformative power of learning a new language and its ability to open new ways of seeing, feeling, and being are also deeply inspirational to our community—and to me personally. 

In conclusion, this honorary doctorate from The American University of Rome is a sign of our utmost respect and recognition of Ms. Lahiri's profound contributions to the humanities and arts, as well as the remarkable inspiration she provides our students as they embark on their own journeys and careers. 

With the authority vested in me by the District of Columbia and the State of Delaware, I am deeply honored to confer upon Jhumpa Lahiri the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa.