USC Francophone Ranks Crème de la Crème

Stepped up research at USC College’s Francophone Resource Center will further bolster the study of French culture.
ByPamela J. Johnson

During his visit to USC this week, Pierre Vimont, the French ambassador to the United States, praised the work of USC College’s Francophone Resource Center and announced an increase in its research activities.

Calling the building of stronger partnerships between French and American research institutions “a new priority,” Vimont said that the French Embassy has created a $1.4 million Partner University Fund (PUF). The funds will go toward stepping up collaborative research between the two countries.

Vimont said the new direction — which comes more than three years after the center was established — is sure to put USC on the map in the Francophone world.

“We’ve been impressed with all of the great work that the center has done in terms of interdisciplinary activities, including the excellent colloquium about Los Angeles the center organized in Paris,” Vimont said.

“Seeing all of this great work, we want to keep the center’s linguistic and pedagogical dimensions while adding to the academic and research dimensions,” he said.

A project between USC and the Université Marne-la-Vallée near Paris is already being developed, following a recent visit to the USC Francophone Resource Center by the French university’s Gisèle Seginger.

“By increasing the scope of the activities at the center, we’ll be increasing its visibility,” said Béatrice Mousli Bennett, the center’s director and a lecturer in the College’s French and Italian department. “It will put USC on the map in countries where the university is better known for its science and medical research than for its humanities.”

The center’s aim is to create new interdisciplinary bridges between local and Francophone institutions. Its steering committee includes faculty from diverse disciplines such as history, art history, political science, international relations, French, cinema and architecture.

Housed in the College, the center works closely with the School of Cinematic Arts, the Annenberg School for Communication, the School of Architecture and the College’s School of International Relations.

Also during his visit, Vimont spoke about French-American relations to an audience at the Doheny Memorial Library on Dec. 17.

USC College Dean Howard Gillman introduced Vimont, calling him “a clear-sighted and visionary leader who understands the challenges and, we trust, the opportunities that lie before our two countries at this critical moment in history.”

Gillman said that USC was honored to welcome Vimont. “His visit underscores the importance of our efforts to build bridges, and reinforce relationships that cross oceans and span continents.”

Earlier during Vimont’s visit, the French ambassador awarded USC surgeon Namir Katkhouda France’s highest honor for his groundbreaking work in laparoscopic surgery. Katkhouda received the Knighthood of the French Order of the Legion of Honor.