An openly gay Italian-American, he was born in Durham, N.C., Germino earned master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University, and was an associate professor at Wellesley College prior to moving to Virginia.
He was a member of the Rockefeller Foundation field staff, and a Rockefeller visiting professor at the University of Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University. He spent three years in the Philippines working on a Rockefeller Foundation project to develop Filipino universities.
Germino joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1968 as a member of the Center for Advanced Studies and assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences. He resigned from the deanship in 1984 and continued teaching until 1997. Since his retirement from U.Va., he taught at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands and the University of Bangkok in Thailand. In his career, he also lived and taught in the Philippines, Italy, Germany and Great Britain.
At University of Virginia, he won the Z Society's Medallion for Distinguished Teaching and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Germino's Modern Western Political Thought: Machiavelli to Marx (1972) developed his concept of the open society. That idea became the subject of an Italian conference he organized in 1972 for the Rockefeller Foundation.
Germino's chief research interests included political theory and Italian politics. He wrote seven books and nearly 50 articles on the history of political theory and Italian politics, and in 1980 organized the first international Seminar for Philosophy and Political Theory in Italy.
He died in Amsterdam in a train accident. He is survived by five children.