NYU Appoints New Director for Villa La Pietra


Ellyn Toscano, Prominent Congressional Staff Member, Takes Post as Director of Florentine Campus and Global Initiatives

New York University today announced that it has appointed Ellyn Toscano as the director of the University’s Villa La Pietra campus and related global initiatives. Ms. Toscano, who has worked with Representative Jose Serrano of New York for the past two decades, will move to Florence with her family and assume her new post in August.

Villa La Pietra - a 57-acre Florentine estate with five villas - is the centerpiece of NYU’s study abroad program. The University currently runs five study abroad sites - including London, Madrid, Paris, Prague and, beginning next fall, Ghana - which are characterized by a high degree of interaction with local universities and curricula that allow students to continue their regular course of study without interruption. Approximately 800 students study at Villa La Pietra each year; overall, some 1800 NYU students study abroad each year.

As director of Villa La Pietra, Ms. Toscano will be responsible for crafting initiatives that link NYU’s study abroad sites with its Washington Square campus and with the international community. She will also oversee the ongoing conservation activities at Villa La Pietra and manage the conservation and curatorial staff to ensure that the Villa, its garden, and its art collection continue to be an important resource for the University and for the cultural heritage of Florence.

Yaw Nyarko, NYU’s Vice Provost for Globalization and Multicultural Affairs, said, “Ellyn Toscano brings to NYU an impressive range of experience and connections that makes her particularly well suited for this new role. She is well-versed in government policies with regard to public diplomacy, educational exchanges, and cultural diplomacy; moreover, she has had significant expertise in fundraising and program planning. She has traveled extensively on behalf of Congress, and she has long-standing involvement with arts institutions. The University is very pleased that she has agreed to take on this post.”

Since 1990, Ms. Toscano - who speaks Italian — has served as chief of staff and counsel to Congressman Jose Serrano, an association that has spanned some 20 years overall. From 1988 to 1991, she had a private law practice, specializing in arts, entertainment, and publishing. Prior to that, she had served as counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Education for nine years, during which time she also worked with Mr. Serrano.

Ms. Toscano received her B.A. from Grinnell College in 1977, her J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law, and LL.M. in international legal studies from NYU’s School of Law in 2001. She has served on the boards of several prominent arts and cultural institutions, including the Bronx Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Brooklyn Arts Council.


New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, was established in 1831 and is one of America’s leading research universities. It is one of the largest private universities, and it has more international students than any other college or university in the U.S. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and dramatic arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

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