Feb 14, 2012

Barbara Berlusconi

It was a scene to warm the heart: a delighted student in mortar board and gown had just heard that she had graduated with 110 e lode (the equivalent in Italy of a starred first-class degree). In the front row of the audience, her father burst into applause, beaming with undisguised pride.

The ecstatic parent, however, was Italy's scandal-prone prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. And by last night the graduation of his daughter, Barbara, at a ceremony in Milan last Tuesday, had touched off yet another controversy involving the Berlusconi family.

In a letter to the press and subsequent interviews, a professor at Barbara Berlusconi's university deplored what she claimed was an attempt by the chancellor to secure funding from one of the world's richest men by promising his daughter a teaching post.

The prime minister's eldest daughter by his second marriage was awarded her philosophy degree by the San Raffaele Life-Health University after submitting a dissertation on the concepts of well-being, freedom and justice in the work of the Nobel prize-winning economist, Amartya Sen. Roberta de Monticelli, who holds the chair of philosophy of the person at San Raffaele, said that after declaring the results, chancellor Luigi Verzé had turned to Barbara Berlusconi "asking her if she thought a faculty of economics could be founded at the San Raffaele based on the thinking of the author on which she had written her thesis, and inviting her to become a teacher".


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