Jane Robert, B.A. 1969, chair of the College of Arts & Sciences Advisory Board, was promoted to the grade of officer in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms) during a May 10 ceremony in Emerson Library’s Faculty Development Center.
The Ordre des Palmes Académiques is an order of chivalry of France for academics and cultural and educational figures that was founded by Napoleon in 1808.
Jean-François Rochard, Deputy Cultural Attaché of the French Consulate of Chicago, bestowed the honor on Mrs. Robert. “It is a well-deserved promotion,” he said.
Rochard praised Mrs. Robert for being a bridge between St. Louis and Lyon (St. Louis’s sister city) and Paris; for her sharing and generosity; for her love of the French language and culture; and for her grace and chivalry.
“I’m more moved than I thought I would be,” Mrs. Robert said during her acceptance remarks. She thanked family and friends for attending the ceremony and gave special thanks to her husband, Bruce Robert, for his support.
Mrs. Robert said her decision to attend Webster University played a major role in shaping her life and that a 1967 Alliance Française scholarship for study at the Sorbonne in Paris was of utmost importance. “It changed my life,” she said.
“Indulge in your passion.”
Mrs. Robert urged everyone to follow their dreams. “Indulge in your passion,” she said. “Follow it, and it will naturally flow out of you.”
Mrs. Robert also introduced Lionel Cuillé, the inaugural Jane and Bruce Robert Professor of French and Francophone Studies, who will join the Webster faculty in August. The professorship was established through a $1 million gift from Jane and Bruce Robert in December 2010.
Mrs. Robert, who was the College of Arts & Sciences’ 2008 Outstanding Alumna, is highly regarded locally, nationally, and internationally as an advocate for the study of French. From 1999 to 2003, Mrs. Robert served as president of Alliance Française de St. Louis. She also held the position of national president of the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA from 2001 to 2006, and president of St. Louis-Lyon Sister Cities Inc. from 2006 to 2009. In addition, she is president of Renaissance Française-USA, a national delegation that encourages the appreciation of French language and culture. Mrs. Robert’s new initiatives also include serving on the founding boards of American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay and the St. Louis Language Immersion Schools.
Mrs. Robert has received numerous honors and awards for her advocacy work, including the French Legion of Honor in 2007, which is the highest distinction awarded by the French government, and, in 1998, the French government’s knighthood, known as Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.
In October 2011, Jane and Bruce Robert, received La Renaissance Française’s highest award, La Médaille d’Or de la Renaissance Française.