The Scuola Normale Superiore has elected Professor Vincenzo Barone as its Director for the 2016-2020 term. Barone is Professor of Physical Chemistry, and he will guide the institution beginning in the fall. Barone was the only candidate for the position, which is chosen by a vote of the entire faculty. He received 41 votes, exceeding the plurality required for election (26 votes) by a wide margin.

Born in Ancona, but Neapolitan in origin and training, Vincenzo Barone is the twenty-second Director of the institution. Founded in 1810 by Napoleon and located in Pisa in the Piazza del Cavalieri, Normale is considered the leading academic institution in Italy according to several international rankings.

Upon being elected, Barone commented that the directorship “is a position of great prestige that I am very proud to accept. First of all, my thoughts go to my colleagues, the students, and the technical and administrative staff who believed in me and my vision. I assure all of them that I will work hard and will not let them down.”

The current Director, Professor Fabio Beltram, whose term expires on November 1, was the first to congratulate Barone. “I warmly congratulate Vincenzo Barone on his election, and I am very pleased by the smoothness with which the school has gone through this important institutional transition. We scheduled the election for June to ensure a few months of overlap between the outgoing and incoming Directors so that the new Director would be able to become familiar with the ongoing status of the school and its administration.”

In the weeks leading up to the election, Barone presented his plans for Normale’s future direction. He stressed three priorities for strengthening and renewing the identity of SNS: collaboration, experimentation, and promotion.

“Collaboration is essential, both internally and externally. I think the two souls of Normale, the Humanities and the Sciences, must work together and not be considered as two separate, unconnected worlds. I think also that we must strive to combine our skills and our knowledge with those of comparable institutions elsewhere in the world, in the belief that such collaboration will not merely add together these separate strengths, but rather multiply them many times over.”

In addition to this, Normale must be a place of experimentation. “Given the small size of our university and the high level of professionalism that we are achieving,” says Barone, “we can afford to seek new horizons for teaching and research, along unexplored roads, and thereby lead the way for other universities. Normale must be a model; that should be our function within the pantheon of Italian universities.”

With respect to promoting Normale, Vincenzo Barone is convinced that “we can and we must do more to promulgate the reputation of Normale as a hotbed of talent. People who want to learn and develop in a stimulating environment should know that the Scuola Normale exists as an opportunity. It is the place that talented students in Italy and even abroad should aspire to come to.”

Prof. Barone concludes by noting the current status of institution that he will soon lead: “We are a healthy university, thanks to the work done by those who preceded me.” As a result, according to Barone, Normale is in an ideal position to move forward: “We can explore new possibilities for study and research. We can increase the opportunities for our graduates in the professional world, providing the world of business with the ability to leverage their skills. We will seek out collaborations with other academic institutions for specific projects, with ‘innovation’ as our watchword.”