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Working at CSU

Celebrate! CSU Milestone: Paola Malpezzi Price, 30 years

March 26, 2014
By Geneva Mueller

For the chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, her travels have been both the soundtrack and the script to her 's accomplishments.

What began as a simple idea hatched in a classroom outside of Bologna, Italy, has manifested itself into a family, a successful company and a lifetime of service to Colorado State University. For Paola Malpezzi Price, professor of Italian and French and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, her travels have been both the soundtrack and the script to her life’s accomplishments.  

Paola was in high school in Italy when her English teacher recommended that she apply for a study-abroad scholarship through American Field Service, an association founded by World War I ambulance drivers to help foster peace among nations. She applied, was accepted, and completed her third year of high school in Newport, Oregon.

At 17 years of age, she threw herself into the experience whole-heartedly, becoming the homecoming queen, playing volleyball, joining both the German club and the pep club and, of course, dating a young American. When it was time for her to return to Italy, Rick Price had secured admission into a summer study abroad program in Germany and was able to visit Paola and her family. When he returned to the United States, they continued writing letters, and three years later, they were engaged.

“It’s a real love story. And 45 years later, we are still married,” she says, with a smile.

Traveling, studying, leading tours

They spent the first nine years of their marriage travelling, studying, obtaining their Ph.D.s and leading study abroad programs through Italy and France. In 1983 Paola was offered a job at CSU teaching French and Italian. She progressed from teaching language courses to pursuing her research interests, and then became the chair of the department.

Price finds the work of female writers and intellectuals from Italy and France to be most inspiring, she says. An avid cyclist herself, Price likes to focus on the quintessential role that the bicycle, and mobility in general, played in emancipation for women.

“Bicycling has helped women reach certain independence and mobility. They were stuck, at home or just where they could walk. But the bicycle gave them that vehicle to go farther, and gave the pleasure of traveling and exploring,” Price says.

Top 10 Tours of a Lifetime

Bicycling is more than a hobby, however. Paola, Rick and their two daughters (both trilingual) have built an extremely successful company leading bicycle tours all over the world. The company, Experience Plus!, has been ranked as one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Tours of a Lifetime and recently celebrated 40 years of operation, now under the management of the Price daughters. Much like the rest of Paola’s story, the tale of the company’s formation is poetic.

“The story goes that on a very rainy evening in Oregon while we were graduate students, we were dreaming of going back to Italy — sunny Italy,” she recalls. “Of course,we didn’t have any money, besides what we were earning as graduate teaching assistants. So the idea came from the need, the desire and the wish to go back to Italy, somehow making enough money to pay for our travels.”

The company not only provided a creative solution to her perpetual wanderlust, but still inspires Price’s research and teaching daily. Being surrounded by the same milieu that inspired the work of writers she studies and teaches is a permanent reminder of why she is on this path. Through her research, teaching and other accomplishments, she is helping to pave that road.

A niche at CSU

Price’s favorite tour to lead is through the Dordogne River Valley in Western France. The tour tells the story of the culturally diverse region, offering a nostalgic juxtaposition of the Medieval Renaissance culture with the modern history of Bordeaux -- all with a breathtaking backdrop, excellent food and even better wine. For Paola, bicycling is not simply a pastime: It is the embodiment of the women’s movement; a representation of past accomplishments and the road that is yet to be traveled.

Price says she is thankful to have found a niche at Colorado State. When she arrived, she found a welcoming place as well as wonderful friends and mentors who encouraged her to achieve her goals.

“CSU has been wonderful for me, so I am grateful,” she says. “I will always keep it in my heart … Fort Collins will always be our home, or at least one of them.”

Celebrate! CSU Milestones honors University employees for years of service and retirement, and will be held this year on April 30, 4 p.m., in the Hilton Fort Collins Ballroom. Between now and then, Today @ Colorado State will be featuring selected employees Celebrating! Milestones this year.