UT and France Establish Endowment to Promote Academic Cooperation

UT-France endowment
Photo by Marsha Miller

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin and the Embassy of France have committed to an agreement to establish an endowment to support research collaborations and strengthen academic cooperation between UT Austin and France.

“Global engagement is an essential component of The University of Texas at Austin’s educational and research missions,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “This partnership will strengthen the important relationship between Texas and France and benefit citizens in both nations.”

The Dr. Cécile Dewitt-Morette France-UT Endowed Excellence Fund will solidify the commitment between France and UT Austin to support scholarship that will lead to generations of joint discoveries and deepen the historical ties between the people of France and Texas.  

“The Embassy of France is committed to encouraging sustainable cooperation between French and American universities to foster new discoveries as well as students’ and researchers’ mobility,” said Gérard Araud, ambassador of France to the United States. “This new France-University of Texas at Austin program, named for the famous physicist Cécile DeWitt-Morette, will open new perspectives of cooperation in all fields of science and humanities.”

The endowment will honor the life and work of the late mathematician, physicist and UT Austin professor Cécile DeWitt-Morette, who was born and educated in France. A recipient of the French Legion of Honor, DeWitt-Morette leaves a trans-Atlantic legacy as a researcher, educator and champion for improving global science relations. During her storied career, she held the Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor Emerita in Physics at UT Austin and founded L’École de Physique des Houches, a school that has produced more than 25 winners of the Nobel Prize and the Fields Medal. 

UT Austin joins five other U.S. universities that currently have collaborative endowments with France. The others are the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, The University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University. UT Austin’s endowment does not specify areas of research to ensure that the needs and interests of both France and Texas can be pursued long into the future.

UT Austin and the French Consulate in Houston are seeking to raise private funds from individuals, corporations and foundations to build the $2 million endowment. The purpose of the endowment is to provide research and travel funds for bringing together faculty members and students at UT Austin with institutions in France to accelerate international exchange of knowledge among academics.

This will help achieve President Fenves’ goal of creating an ecosystem that fosters more global educational and collaboration opportunities for students and faculty members. Such joint endeavors will expand the impact of the university around the world, prepare students for careers in a globalized economy and facilitate the kind of global partnerships that are needed to address the biggest challenges facing the world today.