First Dean of Venice International University

We are very sad to announce that Professor Gianni Toniolo passed away on Sunday, November 13, in Rome.

Professor Toniolo, a highly appreciated economic historian, was one of the Founding Fathers of Venice International University.


He was born in Reggio Emilia in 1942 and graduated from Ca' Foscari University in Venice. He went on to study at Harvard University under the guidance of Professor Alexander Gerschenkron. He then carried out research on economic policy issues, specializing in contemporary economics.

He returned to Ca' Foscari as a tenured Professor, and he co-directed the Journal of Economic History. He also taught in Rome at the Universities of "Tor Vergata" and Luiss, where he set up the School of European Political Economy.

He held a Chair at Duke University, and through his contacts both at Duke and in Venice he founded Venice International University, together with then Rector of Ca' Foscari Professor Paolo Costa. Gianni Toniolo was the first Dean of VIU, and it is in great part thanks to him that our unique model of cooperation between international academic institutions that share a common campus in San Servolo became such a success.

At VIU, Gianni Toniolo initially brought together his own University, Ca' Foscari, IUAV - the University of Architecture in Venice, Duke University, Ludwig Maximilians-Universitaet from Munich, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the "Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia" (now "Fondazione di Venezia") and the "Provincia di Venezia" (now "Città Metropolitana di Venezia"). The latter was the de facto owner of the historic Island of San Servolo.

Together, these Founding Members of VIU, under the guidance of Gianni Toniolo, planned and carried out the challenging project of renovating the facilities on the island while simultaneously launching the first academic programs for the students and Professors coming from the 5 Founding Member Universities.

When, years later, it became clear to him that VIU was thriving and growing, both in terms of Members and activities, he decided to withdraw from the Board of Directors. Today, his brainchild has reached maturity with 20 Universities from around the world who send their students, professors and researchers to take part in a wide range of activities in a shared campus where each and every one of them is equal.

This unique model is just one of the legacies of Professor Gianni Toniolo, albeit a very important one. All of us at VIU will be forever grateful to him for his vision and determination in making it a reality.


Press review

la Repubblica

La Nuova

Il Gazzettino