NEW YORK, May 07, 2010 — Columbia University’s Maison Francaise and Department of French and Romance Philology are honored to announce the election of Paul LeClerc as the new Chair of their joint Advisory Board.
Paul LeClerc has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of The New York Public Library since 1993. He announced last year his plans to retire from his position at the Library in June 2011. During his tenure at the NYPL, Dr. LeClerc has overseen the merging of the branch and research library systems, led more than $500 million in capital projects, created notable programs and exhibitions, and increased by more than twofold the Library’s endowment.
Dr. LeClerc earned his Ph.D. with distinction in French literature from Columbia University in 1969, writing his dissertation on Voltaire. He is the author or co-editor of five scholarly volumes on writers of the French Enlightenment and his contributions to French culture have earned him the Order of the Academic Palms (Officier) in 1989 and the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier) in 1996. Dr. LeClerc has maintained strong ties to his alma mater as a long-standing member of the Maison Française Advisory Board and now its new Chair. Of his appointment, Dr. LeClerc says, “I’m deeply honored, and quite flattered, to have been elected to this position. So much of my career and my professional identity is based on my experience as a student in the Department of French at Columbia that being given this chance to work on behalf of the university’s Maison Française and Department of French is really thrilling.”
Phil Watts, Chair of the Department of French and Romance Philology, says, "I am absolutely delighted to welcome Paul LeClerc back to Columbia University in this new capacity. This is a very exciting moment for the Maison Française, and Paul's interests, expertise and distinction make him perfectly suited to lead us in this new chapter of our history."
Dr. LeClerc will be joining Shanny Peer, who was appointed Director of the Maison Française in September 2009, in providing new direction for Columbia's Maison Française as it approaches its 100-year anniversary in 2013. Dr. Peer holds a Ph.D. from NYU's Institute of French Studies, and taught French Studies for ten years at the University of Vermont and NYU, winning awards for her book, France on Display, and for teaching excellence. She also served as Director of Policy Programs at the French-American Foundation for eight years, comparing public policy approaches in the two countries. According to Phil Watts, “Shanny Peer has brought new energy and vision to the Maison Française, and helped affirm its reputation as a leading intellectual center at Columbia and in New York City. Over the past year, the Maison Française has hosted visits by prominent speakers—including French President Nicolas Sarkozy—as well as groundbreaking international conferences. Today the Maison provides a scholarly home for a wide range of Columbia students and faculty.”
Prior to leading The New York Public Library, Paul LeClerc was President of Hunter College, the largest public institution of higher education in New York City and the flagship college within the City University of New York system. He served previously as University Dean for Academic Affairs at Hunter, Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for CUNY/City University of New York, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Baruch College. Dr. LeClerc began his career as an Instructor and then Assistant and Associate Professor of French at Union College.
Dr. LeClerc will be leading a distinguished Advisory Board that has been revitalized by the addition of nine new members over the past six months. Three of them represent longstanding corporate sponsors of the Maison Française:Christine Ourmières, CEO of Air France/KLM-U.S.; Thierry Simon, CEO-Americas of Crédit Agricole CIB; and Pierre-Jean de Filippis, COO of Structured Finance at BNP Paribas. The other new members are: Philippe Lalliot, Consul General of France in New York; Renaud Dutreil, Chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc., and former French Minister and Member of Parliament; Robert O. Paxton, Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia; Charles E.M. Kolb, President of the Committee for Economic Development in Washington DC; Edouard Tétreau, Head of Research of AXA Private Equity and founder of Mediafin Consultancy; and Adam Gopnik, author and staff writer for The New Yorker.
About the Columbia Maison Française
Founded in 1913, the Columbia Maison Française was the first French cultural center established on an American campus. Its mission is to promote interest in French and Francophone culture, history, literature and society, to foster innovative scholarship and interdisciplinary exchange, and to contribute to international understanding. The Maison Française works closely with Columbia's French Department and Center for French and Francophone Studies, and it partners with other programs at Columbia and with cultural, educational and policy organizations in New York City.
The Advisory Board provides leadership and guidance to the Maison Française, the Department of French and Romance Philology, and the Center for French and Francophone Studies. The Advisory Board helps the Maison Française define its goals and strategies, guides the development of its programming and activities, helps extend its outreach and visibility in New York City, and supports the fundraising efforts necessary to fulfill its mission.
About Columbia University
A leading academic and research university, Columbia University continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations, and community partnerships help define the university’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.