France to award Legion d’Honneur to Irish academic

UCC’s Prof Grace Neville honoured for work on Franco-Irish links and innovative teaching

Former UCC vice-president for teaching and learning and emeritus professor of French, Grace Neville, has been selected by French president, Francois Hollande, to receive the Legion d’Honneur. File photograph:  UCC

Former UCC vice-president for teaching and learning and emeritus professor of French, Grace Neville, has been selected by French president, Francois Hollande, to receive the Legion d’Honneur. File photograph: UCC

 

An Irish academic is to be awarded France’s highest honour - the Légion d’Honneur - for her role in promoting Franco-Irish relations and her work in helping developing innovative teaching techniques within the French academic system.

Former UCC vice-president for teaching and learning and emeritus professor of French, Grace Neville, has been selected by French president, Francois Hollande, to receive the honour, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed.

French higher education

Prof Neville, a native of Greenmount in Cork city who grew up in the Lough area, was chosen for the honour because of her work in promoting Franco-Irish relations between Cork and France and her role in the French higher education system at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Prof Neville was appointed chair of an initiative on innovative teaching and learning in higher education in France as part of a €35 billion investment programme in national infrastructure which included a €19 billion investment in research and higher education.

Speaking in 2014 on her role as an evaluator in the programme Investissements d’Avenir, which has a budget of €150 million and which is operated by the French National Research Agency and the French Ministry for Education, Prof Neville said the programme offered huge potential.

‘Very exciting’

“The current re-imagining of higher education and research in France is very exciting.

“It prioritises interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration, and allows for greater student mobility between universities, grandes écoles and institutes of technology,” she said.

“The current debate on higher education in Ireland would be immensely richer if we were to look beyond the English-speaking world at examples of best practice elsewhere, for instance in France and Germany.

“However, that would require our decision-makers to be able to access languages other than English. It would also raise the increasingly fraught question of the status and provision of foreign-language learning in this country,” she added.