Dr. Donald R. Vidrine, emeritus professor of French, was knighted in the French Order of Academic Palms on Saturday, October 3 at UNT in the presence of Mr. Sujiro Seam, Consul General, and Ms. Sylvie Christophe, Cultural Attachée, both from the Consulate General of France in Houston. UNT administrators, colleagues, and former students attended the event to congratulate Dr. Vridine. Among them were Dr. Jean Schaake, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Marijn Kaplan, Chair of the Department of World Languages, Literatures & Cultures; and Ms. Laetitia Knight, UNT Senior Lecturer in French and President of the North Texas Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF).
The Order of Academic Palms was founded in 1808 by Napoleon I. It is the most prestigious award bestowed upon scholars who have distinguished themselves by their professional activities and have contributed actively to the prestige of French culture.
Dr. Vidrine taught at UNT for thirty years (1968-1998) and was a pillar of the French section. His area of specialization was French literature, and he served as Coordinator of the French language program for many years, supervising and mentoring dozens of graduate students. He organized in-service sessions for area French teachers and directed several study-abroad programs to French-speaking countries as well as grant-funded summer institutes for teachers. Through his publications and presentations at professional conferences, he increased the visibility of UNT. He also served as secretary-treasurer for the North Texas Chapter of the AATF for which he was the prime mover in establishing the Fête Française, a regional competition which to this day still attracts some 500 secondary school students of French each year. As a result of his many activities, he received several awards and distinctions such as the Excellence in Teaching Award from the AATF North Texas chapter. He was selected as Honor Professor by the UNT Student Government Association and elected Danforth Associate. Finally, he established at UNT the Donald R. Vidrine French Study Abroad Scholarship.