Back to the Classroom: President and Mrs. Kaplan Take Italian 101

The Charger Bulletin

By UNH Today

For the first time in nearly 30 years, President Steve Kaplan returned to the classroom as a student during the fall semester to take Italian 101. Joining him for the class was his wife, Anemone Schweizer-Kaplan, and a group of dedicated students on a journey to learn a foreign language.

President Kaplan and his wife take Italian 101.

“The young people in my class, like most of our students, were hard-working, very well-mannered and have good values,” said President Kaplan. “It was an enjoyable class and a fun experience.”

Avid travelers, the Kaplans regularly visit Italy but never had the time to dedicate to studying the language. Soon after the University announced its first international satellite campus in Italy, Mrs. Kaplan enrolled in the Italian course and President Kaplan decided to join her.

Before long, they were engaged in a spirited competition to see who would earn a better grade. “We are both very competitive, and we were quietly watching each other’s progress right from the start,” said President Kaplan, who lived in Germany for 14 years and is fluent in German.

He had the upper hand on the first exam, but reports, “She beat me ever since.” The competition will continue as they are both enrolled in Italian 102 this spring.

Both say their younger classmates made them feel welcome from day one.

“I made the same mistakes as they did,” said Mrs. Kaplan (below), a native of Germany who has served as an adjunct professor at several colleges and universities in the United States. “I had difficulty pronouncing some words properly and the grammar is confusing at times. But it has been tremendous fun tripping over my own tongue with a large group of students.”

Dana Mangiacapra ’13 worked with Mrs. Kaplan on several class assignments and with President Kaplan on the oral portion of the final exam.

“Both President and Mrs. Kaplan were extremely open with the students in the class,” she said. “They talked with us, laughed with us, sat through exams and fully participated in the class. There was never a question that they were students, too.”

“They were both very easy to work with,” added Kasey Officer ’13, a forensic science major. “Their knowledge of other languages was evident in the questions they asked during class.”

Jeffrey Wandrak ’13 worked on several group assignments with Mrs. Kaplan. “She was very friendly and easy to work with,” he said.

Instructor Maddalena Lolaico said it was a pleasure to have the president and his wife in class. “The presence of President Kaplan and Mrs. Kaplan encouraged students to participate, creating a good learning atmosphere,” said Lolaico. “They really inspired my students.”

Ultimately, Mrs. Kaplan said there is only one way to truly test what she and her classmates learned. “Now we all have to meet in Italy to see if the Italians really do understand us,” she said.