Valpo Professor Receives Prestigious Award from French Government

Randa J. Duvick, Ph.D., professor of foreign languages and literatures, has been named Officer in the Order of French Academic Palms.

This award, created by Napoleon I in 1808 and bestowed by the French government, honors those who have rendered services to French education, actively helping people around the world to better understand France and its heritage.

Anonymously nominated by members of the Order of French Academic Palms, Duvick received the rank of Knight (“Chevalier”) in the Order in 2009 and advanced to the rank of Officer in 2018. This advancement recognizes the sustained and impactful work Duvick has done and continues to do on behalf of France and French culture.

Duvick was formally honored and presented with the decoration for her rank of Officer, a metallic badge suspended on a purple moire ribbon with a rosette, by Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France in Chicago, in September.

“This honor is confirmation that the work that I’ve done locally and also on the national level has been appreciated. It doesn’t go unnoticed,” Duvick said. “It proves that the work my colleagues and I do to open our students’ eyes to different cultures and ways of doing things is truly valuable.”

Duvick has been a faculty member in Valpo’s foreign languages and literatures department since 1986. Beyond the wide range of courses she teaches, Duvick played a critical role in helping to establish the University’s exchange relationships with three French institutions — the Université de Cergy-Pontoise, the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de La Rochelle, and the Université de Technologie de Compiègne. Her work in strengthening French and U.S. relationships is extensive and includes the creation of “Conversation Partners,” a program linking Valpo French students with exchange students from France.

“Professor Duvick has helped hundreds of students to not only learn French, but to understand Francophone culture,” said Julia Bowlds ’19, international business major. “I now know how language helps one better understand culture, which has translated into an ability to understand people different from myself. I am truly grateful to have her as a professor and friend at Valpo.”

Duvick is active in many professional organizations, including the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), holding an officer position at the national level for several years. In 2003, she was named the Post-Secondary French Teacher of the Year for the state of Indiana through the AATF. Duvick is also active locally in AATF Northwest Indiana, formerly serving as its president. Currently, she is engaged in research centered around French-Canadian fur trader Joseph Bailly and the history of French traders and soldiers in Indiana in the 17th and 18th centuries.