Fletcher professor named chevalier by French government
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 08:10
The university on Nov. 5 will honor Leila Fawaz, the Issam M. Fares professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies and director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, during a ceremony celebrating the French government naming her a chevalier in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor.
The French consul general in Boston acknowledged Fawaz as a chevalier, one of France’s most prestigious honors, at a ceremony this summer in Cambridge.
The tribute, the equivalent of a knighthood, is bestowed by decree of the president of France and is the first class of five possible decorations from the French National Order of the Legion of Honor.
The award recognizes her work promoting French academic research and thought at American universities.
“A lot of hard work goes into our academic careers, and it is gratifying to see its impact beyond our immediate surroundings,” Fawaz told the Daily in an email.
Fawaz’s interest in French−American relations stems from her work in education, she said. Fawaz attended the American University of Beirut for her bachelor’s and first graduate degrees.
“I received my baccalaureate degrees and my first graduate degree from French institutions and used that to continue to read about what scholars abroad have been doing research on,” Fawaz said. “We, the faculty, rarely confine ourselves to keeping up with research done only in English.”
Fawaz is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Comite Scientifique of the Maison Mediterranenne des Sciences de l’Homme at the Universite d’Aix−Marseille. She acts as a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Politiques et Sociales, Paris as well as at the Universite de Provence.
She served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and of Jackson College from 1996 to 2001.
“[The award] is a recognition of a lifetime achievement in striving for connections between societies and cultures and explaining foreign cultures with an open mind and empathy,” Fawaz said.
Andrew Hess, professor of diplomacy and director of the Southwest Asia and Islamic Program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, described Fawaz as a multi−faceted presence at Tufts.
“[Fawaz] was chosen because she has constantly extended the connections between the Fletcher School and Tufts ... to other states and societies,” Hess said.
Fawaz has been committed to extending interdisciplinary thought at Tufts throughout her career, he added.
“[She] is an outstanding teacher and scholar,” Hess said. “She is an extraordinary manager of human affairs and a warm person in all engagements.”
Fawaz believes that her time as a professor in France proved to her that teaching and interpreting history requires an interdisciplinary approach.
“[The award] also [bodes] well for interdisciplinary work over several continents, as what we do here in the U.S. has an impact and is appreciated in Europe and other continents as well,” Fawaz said. “It is impossible to be involved in education in the 21st century and not be interested in other continents than the one any of us happens to live in.”