University of Texas at Austin President Named to France's Prestigious Order of the "Legion of Honor"

William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, yesterday (May 14) was appointed to the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, the prestigious order created by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, for his work in establishing the French Judicial Visiting Fellowship program at the university.

Pierre Grandjouan with President Powers
French Consul General Pierre Grandjouan speaks about President Powers before presenting him with the "Legion of Honor" medal.Photo: Marsha Miller

The appointment as a Knight of the Order of the Légion d'Honneur, on the proposal of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, was announced officially in France's Official Gazette last Oct. 28.

"I am delighted," said French Consul General Pierre Grandjouan, "to present President William Powers with the award of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur to honor his valuable contribution to the development of a strong relationship between the prestigious University of Texas at Austin and the institutions and people of France. We cherish this true friendship and shared history. We hope to continue our fruitful exchanges."

Grandjouan, who heads the French consulate in Houston, formally designated the rank at a ceremony in Powers' office.

The fellowship program brings to The University of Texas at Austin two French junior judges who spend a year learning about the United States judicial system. The program covers most of the participants' tuition and living expenses.

President Powers' "Legion of Honor" medal. 

Powers established the program in 2005 while dean of the Law School. It is supported by the Anderson Foundation of Houston on the initiative of Gib Gayle, partner in the law firm Fulbright and Jaworski and long-time supporter of the Law School.

"In my 40-year international legal career I have never come across an initiative that furthered more intellectual exchanges and the study and eventual use of foreign law," said Sir Basil Markesinis QC, holder of the Jamail Regents Chair in the university's Law School and administrator of the program. "At the same time it performs an immensely useful role in creating closer working links between the U.S. and an old and important ally."