French Honor

durand83.jpgAlain-Philippe Durand was awarded France’s highest teaching honor, the Palmes Académiques, for his distinguished service to French education. The award, established by Napoleon, was presented to the associate professor during a pinning ceremony in the fall.

Durand’s motto is simple: The B.A. in French, Don’t Leave URI Without It. More and more URI students have heeded his advice. When Durand joined URI’s Modern and Classical Languages and Literature Department in 1999, there were 30 students majoring in French. Today there are 130. Thanks, in large part to Durand’s persuasive personality, URI’s French and Francophone Studies program is now the third largest in the country.

Durand helped unite the French language and business, French and pharmacy, and French and textiles, fashion merchandising, and design to create double majors in all three areas.

Durand also teaches film media studies, comparative literature, and honors courses. This year, the versatile professor with the French accent serves as the interim chair of the English Department.

“He is a unique force,” said French Consul François Gauthier from the French Consulate in Boston, who pinned the ribbon with the bright gold medallion on Durand’s left lapel. “He is working magic.”

“J’ai deux amours,” commented Durand, who was awarded the 2002 URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award. “I have two loves—my country and America.”