U of L professors John Greene and Danielle Day recognized by the French government Chicago-based

By on April 18, 2011

By Josephine Lee

The French department at the University of Louisville has recently received a rare honor.  Professors Danielle Day and John Greene have been decorated with the Chevalier des Palmes Academiques award.  

This award, founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1808, recognizes academic leaders dedicated to furthering French culture.  

While the professors were informed of their award in the fall, they pushed back the ceremony until spring in order to honor French students as well.  Many esteemed members of the university were in attendance as M. Jean-François Rochard, the cultural attaché of the French Consulate of Chicago, presented the award to both professors.

The award ceremony took place April 7 at the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium, with many French students in attendance to support two prominent professors in the department. Day, who has been at U of L for 25 years, has played an important role in enhancing the French curriculum.  However, she notes that it was the addition of the basic requirement for language that really started the growth of the language department, prompting students to take further classes in foreign language.  

“The experience of taking a foreign language will, at least, spark interest in some students,” said Day.  

Some students in the French program say that foreign languages are important to them.

 “It is good to have a background in a second language and I plan to use it if I live overseas,” said Lizabeth Perkins, a junior psychology major and French minor.  

Day acknowledges that language classes need to have more social content, instead of just learning new vocabulary.  A French theater practicum is offered every two to three years, and requires students to put on full productions and allows more work in pronunciation, intonation, and nonverbal communication.  Also, Day currently teaches a course in etymology, which, according to the course catalog, analyzes the classical heritage present in French with inclusion of world histories.   

Day and Greene’s love for teaching French culture ties in with their encouragement of students to study abroad.  While the French department attempts to teach as much about the French culture as possible, Greene recognizes that it is study abroad that creates well-rounded French scholars.  

 “[Studying abroad] is not just linguistic improvement,” said Greene. “It’s a great way to develop who you are.”

The second half of the award ceremony recognized key students in the French department. Cathy Felten, the recipient of the outstanding graduate student award, also completed her undergraduate French education at U of L.   

“I have studied with dynamic professors who love the university and love the program,” said Felten.

This passion has motivated many French organizations around campus.  

The French club has grown in popularity, and professors and students alike have increased word around campus, not only for study abroad, but also for study abroad in the Francophone world.

The Chevalier des Palmes Academiques is certainly a reflection of Greene and Day’s hard work to promote French language and culture, but having two recipients of the award at U of L truly displays the caliber of the French program.


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