Professor Amy deGraff, Ph.D., accepts her award
(l. to r.) Galen deGraff, Professor deGraff, Gigi deGraff and President Lindgren
Professor deGraff is joined by her daughter Gigi
and her husband Galen
Professor Amy deGraff
A ceremony to honor Professor of Romance Languages Amy deGraff, Ph.D., took place
on Friday, March 6 at 5:00 p.m. in the Trustees Room.
Family, friends and colleagues celebrated with deGraff as she was awarded the prestigious
Palmes Académiques by the French government for the exceptional work she
has done to support and promote French language and culture in the United States.
During the ceremony, the French Consul for Virginia, representing the French Embassy,
presented the Palmes Académiques to Professor deGraff, thereby making her
a Chevalier dans l’ Ordre des Palmes Académiques.
The Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms) is an Order
of Chivalry of France for academics and educators. Dating from 1808 under Napoleonic
rule, the L’ Ordre des Palmes Académiques was established to distinguish university
dignitaries and recognize service in the field of education. Today it is conferred
on scholars, scientists and those in literary and artistic fields for excellence
in these areas, both in France and other countries throughout the world.
“I am honored and humbled by this recognition and I still cannot quite believe it,”
said deGraff. “Along with teaching and a wonderful career at Randolph-Macon, the
kind of professional activity that earned this award has been a joy and a passion
for a very long time.”
“Professor deGraff is a true scholar who connects with students and whose support
of French language and culture benefits this fine College in so many ways,” said
R-MC President Lindgren. “She is most deserving of this award, and I join the R-MC
community in congratulating her on this outstanding achievement.”
deGraff has been at Randolph-Macon since 1978. She earned her Bachelor’s degree
from the University of Michigan, her Master’s degree from the University of Illinois,
Champaign Urbana, and her Ph.D. from The University of Virginia. She is in her third
term serving as co-president of the Virginia Chapter of the American Association
of Teachers of French (AATFV) and has served as both president-elect and member
of the Board of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA).
She has been instrumental in bringing French film directors to the College, creating
an environment in which students can learn about the vibrancy of French cinema.
In 2004, deGraff invited French film director Françoise Marie to present her work
at a number of colleges and universities throughout the state of Virginia. To deGraff’s
delight, Marie taught a filmmaking course at R-MC in January 2009. “Françoise Marie
is the sixth French film director to come to R-MC, but the first to teach a January
term course,” said deGraff. “This cultural exchange is truly exciting—and a wonderful
addition to R-MC’s excellent liberal arts curriculum.”
“Professor deGraff’s dedication to her profession is inspiring,” said R-MC Provost
William Johnston. “She is an example of the exceptional faculty here at Randolph-Macon,
and I am so pleased that her superlative work has been recognized and lauded by
the French Government.”
deGraff is thankful for the support she’s received throughout her tenure at R-MC.
“I am grateful to Randolph-Macon and the funding which CASE (the Committee on Assemblies
and Special Events) has provided to bring French film directors to the college each
year,” she said. “In some ways I think the establishment of this tradition has been
my greatest contribution to the promotion and support of French culture because
through this program, the directors have also presented their work at a number of
other colleges and universities in Virginia, at the Embassy in Washington, D.C.
and at public and private high schools in the area.”