Historian Receives Top French Award

Leila Fawaz named a chevalier in National Order of the Legion of Honor

Leila Fawaz

Leila Fawaz, the Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies and founding director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University, has been named a chevalier in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor in recognition of her “exemplary personal commitment to French-American relations.”

She received France’s highest decoration from the French consul general in Boston, Christophe Guilhou, during a ceremony in Cambridge on July 10. The award, given by decree of the president of France, acknowledges her efforts “to promote French academic research and thought at prestigious American universities.”

The National Order of the Legion of Honor—the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur in French—was established by Napoleon Bonaparte. The award is divided into five degrees; Fawaz was awarded the first degree—that of “chevalier,” or knight.

Fawaz served on the governing boards of Harvard University as an overseer between 1996 and 2012, and was elected to serve as president of the Board of Overseers for 2011-12. A Carnegie Scholar (2008-10), she also served on the Advisory Board of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) and chaired the CIES Fulbright Review Committee. At various times, she served on committees of the Social Science Research Council, on the Steering Committee of the European Science Foundation and as a delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies.

Fawaz will be honored at a reception at Tufts on Monday, Nov. 5. She is currently on leave, writing a book on the effect of World War I on the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Her connections with France include stints as a visiting professor at the Université de Provence and at l’École des Hautes Études en Science Politiques et Sociales in Paris. She also served on the steering committee of the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg, France, for the program on “Individual and Society in the Mediterranean Muslim World” (1994-99), and was a member of that organization’s planning committee (1993) and publications committee (1996-99).  Currently she serves on the Comité Scientifique de la Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme at the Université d’Aix-Marseille in France.

Fawaz, who came to Tufts in 1980, was a dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Jackson College from 1996 to 2001, and associate dean of the faculty. She also served as chair of the Department of History and holds a dual appointment as a professor of diplomacy at the Fletcher School and a professor of history in the School of Arts and Sciences.

A former president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, she has served as editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES) and in editorial board positions with the American Historical Review, IJMES, the British Middle East Studies Association Review and others.

Among other American recipients of the award over the years are Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg. “I finally have something in common with Clint Eastwood,” Fawaz says she told friends.

Taylor McNeil can be reached at taylor.mcneil@tufts.edu.

Back to Top