Insigna of the knight of the Legion of Honor to Mr. Jack Barcelo
Cornell University, April 2, 2012
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for our Attaché for University Cooperation Camille Peretz and for me to be here today, at the prestigious Cornell University, to confer the French Legion of Honor on both a great academic and a great Francophile: Professor Jack Barcelo.
I would like to thank all of the representatives of Cornell’s Law School present here today: Dean Schwab, Professor Germain, Professors Hans and Lasser. Thank you so much for being with us.
Cornell has a special relationship with the French Embassy since it hosts one of our pluridisclinary centers represented here today by its director, Professor Laurent Dubreuil. Thank you so much Professor for your dedication and commitment to the Center.
I would also like to recognize Hélène Ruiz Fabri, Dean and Professor at the Sorbonne Law School, and Richard Ortoli, elected representative of the French community living in the US.
Currently Professor of International and Comparative Law at Cornell University Law School, Professor Barcelo is widely recognized for his crucial contribution to the field of law, thanks to the excellence of his teaching, and to major publications, including International Commercial Arbitration (1999).
But he is also known for his strong personal commitment, for more than forty years, to university partnerships.
Rarely a scholar in America has devoted himself with such enthusiasm to this goal. And the results are quite spectacular: today, Cornell University’s renowned Law School has programs all over the world and in France in particular, where strong and long-lasting partnerships have been successfully developed for many years, thanks to him.
Dear Professor Barcelo,
In all respects your professional accomplishments are exemplary. Your postgraduate studies took off as a law student at the prestigious Tulane University in Louisiane, where you completed your Masters degree in 1966, summa cum laude.
Your athletic performances at Tulane, if less known, were nevertheless just as glorious!
You were successively the University golf team co-captain from 1960 to 1962, and an amateur golf champion in 1963.
You decided to pursue your studies at Harvard University’s Law School, where you obtained your doctorate in Legal sciences in 1977.
Admitted at once to the New York State Bar, District of Columbia Bar, the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, and the Louisiana Bar, you eventually chose the academic field and joined Cornell’s University’s Law School faculty. And Cornell has been your home ever since.
Since its founding, Cornell’s Law School has always been an institution with a strong international focus. You perpetuate this long tradition through your own personal history as well as your academic work.
As for your personal journey, one might say that “all Europe made you” so to speak.
Born and raised in New Orleans, a city where the ‘code civil des Français’ sets Louisiana apart from British-based common law practiced in the other states, it seems that you were bound to become interested in international law from the beginning.
But it was also your pan-European ancestry (Italian, German, Catalan, Irish and Majorcan!) which sparked your early attraction to international affairs.
In 1966, as a Fulbright fellow, you had the opportunity to spend a year in Bonn, West Germany, to pursue your scholarly research.
Today, as an expert on international trade, international commercial arbitration, European Union law and international law, you are often invited as a Law school’s Visiting Professor, in countries such as Argentina, China, Bulgaria or Germany.
At Cornell University, you founded a dual degree program between Cornell and the Humboldt University of Berlin, and your work follows in the footsteps of Rudolf Schlesinger, one of the Law School’s most famous professors who is considered the father of comparative law in the American law curriculum.
You yourself, exemplify and uphold Cornell’s commitment to the world and to building international partnerships.
What truly distinguished you in the course of your career is the special link you managed to create with France.
A true Francophile, you have travelled to Paris many times, where you enjoy spending time in the Marais and the Latin Quarter. According to Prof. Claire Germain, as a true Southern gentleman, you are especially fond of dancing with your wife at the Bal des pompiers on Bastille Day! I cannot blame you for that.
You also say that - and I quote - “the French influence was something I was always conscious of”.
For you, then, Paris was an obvious site for the Summer Institute you created in 1994 in collaboration with the University of Paris I The Sorbonne.
Today in its 18th year, this innovative program allows a hundred students and dozens of Cornell Law professors to spend five weeks of the summer to study at the Sorbonne, in the fields of international and comparative laws.
This partnership with Paris I was solidified when in 1995 you created a joint degree program to prepare students to gain admission to the bars in both America and France.
Throughout the creation of this program, you have been a consummate diplomat, always fostering true collaborations, and partnerships, especially with Professor Xavier Blanc-Jouvan, former Chair of the Comparative Law Department at Paris I, with whom you so fruitfully partnered on this project.
Today, Cornell is the only American university, along with Columbia, which has developed such a prestigious dual program in law. And since its creation, we are proud to see several Cornell students who have successfully passed the Paris Bar.
It is the third time that France confers the Legion of Honour upon a Cornell Law Faculty professor, which is itself quite exceptional and which says a lot about the quality of the Faculty.
As you know, the Legion of Honor was founded in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte to reward extraordinary services rendered to France. It is France’s highest distinction and one of the most coveted in the world.
So today, on behalf of the French President, it is a great privilege for me to bestow this distinction upon you.
Jack Barcelo, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.