Walston, who had also taught at Milan University and coordinated a programme at Sapienza University of Rome, died on Monday following a long illness.
During his 30-year career in Rome, Walston was a commentator for the national and international press, including The Local, The New York Times, Reuters, RAI News and the BBC, to name but a few.
He was described by Richard Hodges, president of The American University of Rome (AUR), as “a founding father” of the institution and “its most distinguished, gracious and charismatic public champion”.
Following the announcement of Walston’s death, tributes poured onto the university’s website describing the professor as “inspirational”, “irreplaceable” and “an extraordinary man”.
Mary Merva, dean of John Cabot University, a second American institution in the Italian capital, remembered “his passion, curiosity and love for teaching and learning” and said “he shall be sorely missed”.
During his time in Rome, Walston also established the AUR’s Center for Research on Racism in Italy, which saw him work on immigration issues in the country.
Fred Kuwornu, a filmmaker campaigning for a new citizenship law, on Tuesday thanked the professor for his “vision and kindness to support immigrants in Italy and his battle against racism”.
The AUR is hosting a public memorial for James Walston at 11.00am on May 22nd. The event will be held in the university’s garden at Via Pietro Roselli 2, Rome.
Messages of condolence can be posted on the university website.