Antwerp professor awarded academic knighthood in France


Professor Alex Vanneste of UAntwerp is being inducted into the Ordre des Palmes académiques, for a career devoted to French language, linguistics and culture

‘The finest job in the world’

Antwerp University (UAntwerp) professor Alex Vanneste has been inducted into France’s Ordre des Palmes académiques (Order of Academic Palms). The knighthood is bestowed on those who are found to excel in academics and education.

The Ordre des Palmes was developed by Napoleon and is the oldest recognition of excellence in France. The honour is most often given to academics of French nationality, but foreigners are sometimes recognised if the order finds that they have shown an outstanding commitment to furthering knowledge of the French language and culture.

Vanneste (pictured) has been at UAntwerp since 1970, beginning his career teaching French to students. In his decades leading the Romantic languages department, he co-ordinated and was part of the jury of Olyfran, an Olympiad to test Flemish students French-language skills. Tens of thousands of secondary school students have taken part in Olyfran over the years.

‘The exquisite language of Molière’

Vanneste has taught French proficiency and linguistics as well as Belgian language politics. He has been a member of UAntwerp’s board of directors, dean of the arts and philosophy department and chair of Linguapolis, the university’s language learning centre. He is currently the dean of the department of design sciences.

“I have always very much enjoyed my work at the university and the contact with the students,” said Vanneste. “That I am once again being rewarded with such a sign of appreciation from abroad makes it that much better. Teaching is the finest job in the world, certainly if you can do it in the exquisite language of Molière and focus on a culture that is literally and figuratively so close to us.”

The medal associated with the knighthood will be given to Vanneste by French prime minister Edouard Philippe during a ceremony in Brussels next month.

Photo courtesy UAntwerp