Prof awarded Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques

Louise Lewin (BA Spec. Hons. ’74), director of the Ontario Rhone-Alpes Student Exchange Program situated at York, was recently awarded the Chevalier (knight) of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the government of France.

Lewin, the former associate principal student services at Glendon, was one of three recipients to receive the Ordre des Palmes Académiques this year at a celebration held at the home of Jérôme Cauchard, the consul general of France in Toronto, on April 7.

Glendon's Louise Lewin receiving the Ordre des Palmes Académiques from Jérôme Cauchard, the consul general of France in TorontoRight: Glendon’s Louise Lewin receiving the Ordre des Palmes Académiques from Jérôme Cauchard, the consul general of France in Toronto

“I was completely taken by surprise when I learned that I would receive this great honour,” said Lewin. “It is the highlight of my career. The reasons for according me this award – the new programs, the collaborations with France and other activities – were simply a result of my passion for the French language and culture. It was my great good luck to immigrate to a province of Canada which believes in bilingualism and French culture.”

Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts, Françoise Mougeon, asssociate principal academic & research, Glendon French studies Professor Christine Besnard and Glendon sociology Professor Françoise Boudreau, the former acting principal, were in attendance at the celebration, as were members of Lewin’s family.

Kenneth McRoberts (left) and Louise LewinLeft: Kenneth McRoberts (left) and Louise Lewin

“As academic director of the Ontario Rhône-Alpes Student Exchange Program, you have achieved a brilliant career,” said Cauchard. “Your PhD thesis from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Education, which focused on teaching French as a second language, reflects your numerous involvements [in this field] from the beginning.”

Lewin came to York University in 1970, and has filled a variety of positions in the academic field and in leadership and administrative roles. Cauchard said Lewin was “praised by all concerned, as much for the remarkable exchanges established [in a 14-year collaboration with York International], as for the encouragement you demonstrated for the campus’ vibrant cultural life.”

He added that the medal also honours Lewin’s team, those who accomplished the day-to-day activities that led to such success, as well as Glendon’s faculty. “The teaching excellence provided [at Glendon], as well as the outstanding environment benefitting those students who wish to pursue their studies in the two official languages, are recognized by all concerned, and you have played an important part in its excellence.”

From left, Françoise Boudreau, Louise Lewin and Françoise MougeonRight: From left, Françoise Boudreau, Louise Lewin and Françoise Mougeon

In her current role since 2009, Lewin’s “dynamism has significantly enhanced and enlarged this program,” said Cauchard. It was recently announced that the exchange program will receive additional funding.

“Today, the Ontario/Rhône-Alpes Student Exchange Program boasts 75 students per year in both directions. I have just created new branches in this program, including a summer internship component in the fields of engineering, science and the health sciences, and a new language program, which will be offered in August in Rhône-Alpes, France,” said Lewin.

“This award is a most fitting recognition of the many years that Louise Lewin devoted to developing Glendon’s Student Services operation, whose success is clearly illustrated in both the high levels of satisfaction reported by our students and the transformation of Glendon’s international exchange program,” said McRoberts.

Originally founded in 1808 by Emperor Napoléon to honour eminent teachers and professors of the University of Paris, the Ordre des Palmes Académiques was formally established as a chivalric order in 1955. Today, it recognizes the accomplishments of individuals in France and elsewhere, working in the fields of education, research and technology, who have distinguished themselves by their significant contributions to one of society’s most essential missions, that of educating the young, and to those making major contributions to the expansion of French language and culture.

Submitted by Marika Kemeny, Glendon communications officer