French Professor Jacqueline de La Chapelle Skubly said that in teaching the French language to her students she also hoped that it would open their eyes to the rich French culture. On May 4 she was recognized for her life-long dedication to teaching French culture and language to Americans and was presented with the L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.
Napoleon Bonaparte created the award in 1808 to honor eminent members of the University of Paris, and in 1866 the award was extended to those who promote French education and culture outside of France. J. Vincent H. Morrissette, professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, nominated Professor Skubly for the award. “I was shocked to learn that my colleague had not already received the Palmes Acadéques, she who has been so very active in promoting French language and culture in this country as well as being so very influential for generations in the intellectual life of students,” he noted. “To my mind such recognition, though belated, was absolutely essential.”
During the presentation of the award, many of Professor Skubly’s colleagues and friends spoke of her generous spirit and many accomplishments, including her dedication to students, her academic work, and her involvement with the community.
Dr. Zoe Erotopoulos, visiting assistant professor of Modern Languages and Literatures who has worked with Dr. Skubly for many years, was delighted to help celebrate this honor. “She is so generous with her time,” Erotopoulos said. “She’s full of energy and all of her students and colleagues love her. Quite simply, she is a delight.”
Skubly’s daughter, Bernadette, spoke eloquently of her mother’s accomplishments. “She has done so much good for the French community,” she said. Dr. Yolande Bosman, who served as the Honorary French Consul and bestowed Professor Skubly with the Palmes award, said, “To be a teacher is a noble and honorable profession. It requires passion and soul. Professor Skubly has gifted the U.S. with her insatiable thirst for knowledge.” Paula Cianci, the Director of Awards of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy was also present.
Professor Skubly, after receiving the award, said, “It is certainly an honor I never expected to receive. Learning a language is not just for the language, but for the culture as well. It is a way to understand its history, its art, its traditions, and its roots,” she said.
Born and educated in Paris, Skubly later moved to Bridgeport, Conn., and became a U.S. citizen. She currently teaches as an adjunct professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures in the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to her duties at Fairfield, she also teaches at Sacred Heart University and Housatonic Community College, where she was Professor Emerita and served as Chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages.
Prior to her teaching duties in Connecticut, she served as Assistant Coordinator and Language Coordinator for intensive courses in French Language for the Peace Corps at Dartmouth, Tulane University, and Laval University. Her book, Le Français: Départ, co-authored with life-long friend Professor John Rassias, has reached its fourth printing edition in 2007.
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