The French government has bestowed its highest honor on longtime Barnard French instructor Isabelle Jouanneau-Fertig, naming her a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor (Chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur). The award recognizes her 40 years of teaching French language and culture at various universities, including Barnard. It also recognizes her 30 years of volunteer work around the city and at the International School of Brooklyn, where she is a trustee and a former president of the board of trustees.
Senior Associate of French Jouanneau-Fertig received the medal from Ambassador François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in a ceremony at the French consulate in Manhattan. Also in attendance was Bertrand Lortholary, Consul General of France in New York. In bestowing the honor, Ambassador Delattre praised Prof. Jouanneau-Fertig's commitment to nurturing and expanding New York's French community.
"[T]he president of France has decided to name you, Isabelle, to the rank of Chevalier, illustrating France’s deep gratitude for your personal commitment to promoting the French language and culture in the United States, and working actively, in both your career and your personal life, on strengthening French-American friendship," he said. "You have been an extraordinarily dedicated and passionate teacher for the past 40 years, getting unanimous praise and respect for your hard work and warm, personal commitment to students of all ages and background….Indeed, you have been instrumental in developing generations of American students’ curiosity for our country’s language and culture, encouraging many Barnard and Columbia undergrads to go study or work in France, and inspiring some of them to pursue their graduate studies or career there."
Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Order is the highest decoration of the Republic, and recognizes eminent accomplishments of service to France.
Isabelle Jouanneau-Fertig is a specialist in teaching French as a foreign language. After teaching at the University of Texas in Austin, the Bryn Mawr program in Avignon, France, and Yale University, she joined the French department at Barnard in 1987. At the College, she has designed, redesigned, chaired, and taught all levels of language courses. She has also created several new language and culture courses.