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Lisa Kwiatkowski, School of Humanities and Sciences: (650) 723-3901,
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French ambassador to speak at inauguration of the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies

Jean-David Lévitte, French ambassador to the United States, is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, at the inauguration of the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. The ambassador's speech, "French-American Relations in a World Transformed," will be delivered in Bishop Auditorium at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The event is free and open to the public.

The France-Stanford Center was created to advance interdisciplinary research interests between Stanford departments and schools and their French counterparts. In 2001, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded a $1 million endowment to the center to encourage academic cooperation between the two countries and to strengthen French studies in the United States. As part of the agreement, Stanford is seeking to raise an additional $1 million in matching endowment to support conferences, internships and faculty and student exchanges.

"We are deeply honored by Ambassador Lévitte's visit and delighted at the inauguration of the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies," President John Hennessy said. "From its beginnings, Stanford has opened its doors to the world, exchanging ideas and research with scholars in other countries. This collaboration between French and American scholars celebrates that tradition and reinforces the historic relationship between our two countries at a very important time in both our nations' histories. It is particularly fitting that this collaboration stretches not only across two countries, but across a broad intellectual landscape and will serve to enlighten citizens in both our nations."

The ambassador's talk and the inauguration of the center come amid renewed attention to French-American relations. Last month, for example, members of Congress announced the creation of the Congressional French Caucus ­ an informal group of senators and representatives that will focus on bilateral issues shared by both countries.

"For the first time since the independence of the United States, a bipartisan congressional caucus to reinforce the friendship between the United States and France has been established," Lévitte said. "Our friendship is a treasure. And this treasure must be protected, preserved and maintained. What better way to contribute to this goal than through a partnership between France and one of America's leading research universities in pursuit of knowledge and understanding? This is what the France-Stanford Center represents."

In addition to a long career in the French foreign service, Lévitte has served on the staff of French Presidents Valery Giscard d'Estaing and Jacques Chirac. He holds a law degree and is a graduate of the Institute for Political Science (Sciences-Po) in Paris and of the National School of Oriental Languages, where he studied Chinese and Indonesian.

"Stanford University is tremendously excited about the academic partnership between our two countries that this center will foster," said Keith Baker, cognizant dean for the humanities and director of the France-Stanford Center. "The exchange of knowledge across disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, business, law and medicine, promises to create rich intellectual engagement on historic and contemporary issues from a broad range of perspectives."

Directions to the Graduate School of Business are available on the Web at


Lisa Kwiatkowski is director of communications in the School of Humanities and Sciences.


By Lisa Kwiatkowski

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