Tor Vergata: Campus Maximus

Nieuws | de redactie
27 november 2008 | In the south east of ancient Rome lies a young Università di Roma Tor Vergata. This new university was founded in 1982. By then Rome was in desperate need of a second university, because Università di Roma La Sapienza, founded by Pope Bonifacius VIII in 1303, was outgrowing its facilities. Nowadays, Tor Vergata is still referred to as ‘Uniroma2’, as now it is the second of the three state funded universities in Rome.

The Tor Vergata department of Mathematics is located on thescience campus at the Via della Ricerca Scientifica. Recently, theCHE Excellence Ranking rated this department as ‘excellent’, due tohigh scores in publications and citations as well as their activeinvolvement in the Marie Curie Programme. The mathematicsdepartment was also recently awarded the highest place in a rankinganalyzed by the Italian Ministry for Universities and Research.

This leading Italian institution for research in mathematics hastied several connections with other research institutions formathematics in Italy and many Tor Vergata professors are activeboard members herein. For example, professor Piermarco Cannarsa isthe deputy president of INDAM (the Italian national institute forhigher mathematics), as well as a Tor Vergata specialist in partialdifferential equations and control theory.

Key to success

When asked to explain the success of mathematics at Tor VergataCannarsa answers proudly: “We have leading researchers in thefields of operator theory, control theory, number theory, algebraicgeometry, complex analysis, representation theory, probability,mathematical physics. My colleague Roberto Longo recently receiveda one million dollar grant by the European Research Council. Wealways try to enrol the best researchers and scholars, both fromregular competitions and directly from abroad. We keep a very goodatmosphere inside the department and have a lot of scientificactivities and exchanges of ideas among different researchgroups.”

Dutch professor Rene Schoof has been teaching number theory at TorVergata over fourteen years. He has a clear explanation on the highscores on publications and citations of Tor Vergata researchers:”When Tor Vergata was founded some 25 years ago many youngresearchers moved from La Sapienza to this new university. Thesepeople, who quite generally all fall in the same age category,never left. So we now have a lot of brilliant professors who are inthe zenith of their career. It is very important that if we want tokeep our CHE excellence ranking, we have to search for more youngtalented mathematicians.” Cannarsa agrees: “We have to invest morefunds in hiring young people: teaching assistants, post docs andyoung assistant professors.

International and Female students and staff

Compared to many other European beta faculties a large percentageof the math students and staff at Tor Vergata are women. Forinstance, almost 30% of the master students are female and morethan 43% of the staff is female whilst at the Swiss university ETHZurich in comparison only 4% of the math staff are women. Accordingto Cannarsa these figures are not unusual for Italian universities.”Traditionally, girls studied mathematics to become teachers at atime when boys were not attracted by such a profession. Nowadays,the number of male math students has increased compared to othertypes of employment. Fortunately, we did not lose thegirls…

While girls still find their way to Tor Vergata there also seems tobe a gradually growing influx of international students. 12% of thestaff and 16% of doctorates are international. “Recently wereceived many applications for the PhD program from outside Italy”,says Cannarsa. “Currently 9 out of 28 PhD students are foreign,arriving from Asian and other European countries.” At Tor Vergatainternational students can apply for different types of funding.Moreover, the university has a dozen partnerships with Europeanuniversities, is a member of UNICA and active in Erasmus andLeonardo programs. Rene Schoof: “Over the last couple of years thetrend of internationalization is clearly visible at Tor Vergata.That’s a very good thing.”

Campus Maximus

What Cannarsa likes most about Tor Vergata is ’the atmosphere’.”With that I mean both the cultural and friendly atmosphere of thedepartment, and the actual air we breathe, which is much lesspolluted than what people have to inhale in the city centre.”Though studies show that students are happy with the overall studysituation, Cannarsa thinks the facilities for students are readyfor improvement. “Due to scarce funding from the Ministry we havetoo little facilities and IT-infrastructure. The best thing I wishfor us is to have our campus served by the city metro, but that maybe too much to ask for.” Though there is no metro the university isquite easy to get to by the free Campus shuttle bus connecting TorVergata rail station to the various buildings and schools oncampus. As for the new facilities Cannarsa is hoping for he mightget what he wants. Last year Tor Vergata started to build a newcampus.

On 21 March 2007 the city of Rome and Tor Vergata celebrated theground breaking for a new campus designed by renowned architectSantiago Calatrava. His master plan makes conscious reference tothe Circus Maximus: it is designed as a long promenade bordered bycypress trees and anchored by at the one end a new Sports City andat the other end the Rectorate Tower. This tower will contain75.350 square feet of office space, a large circular atrium and anexhibition space. The Sports City will consist of two new identicalfan-shaped pavilions. The first has a multipurpose function andwill contain gymnasia, laboratories, classrooms, a fitness centreas well as offices and shops. The other building will accommodateswimming pools. In June 2009 the new campus will be the host of theWorld Swimming Championship. Therefore 2500 new rooms foraccommodation are being constructed which should be available forstudents after the swimming championships.


Tor Vergata overall numbers of students: 41367

Female students: 22377

International students: 1517

Exchange students: 401

Faculties: 6 (Economics, Law, Engineering, Arts andHumanities, Medicine, Law)

Departments: 27

Teachers: 1434

PhD scholarships:676

Masters and post- graduate programs: 138

Laboratories: 492

Classrooms: 357

Libraries: 6

Website Tor Vergata:

A history of the Tor Vergata area of ancient Rome can be foundhere

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