CAMPUS Dedication

High-Profile Guests Support AUP at Quai Dedication


On Thursday, May 23, 2019, The American University of Paris held an official dedication ceremony for its new flagship building, the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons. The inauguration took place in the presence of The Honorable Jamie D. McCourt, United States Ambassador to the French Republic and Principality of Monaco; Rachida Dati, Mayor of Paris’s 7th arrondissement; Marie-Christine Lemardeley, Deputy Mayor for Higher Education, Student Life and Research, who represented Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris; and Brigitte Plateau, Director General of Higher Education and Professional Integration at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, who represented the minister, Frédérique Vidal. They addressed an audience of visiting dignitaries, trustees, special guests and members of the Paris community.

The Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons connects to AUP’s existing Combes Student Life Center via a glass atrium – named in honor of President Celeste M. Schenck, who also hosted the inauguration. Together, the two sides of the complex form the Student Life and Learning Commons. “This building is the embodiment, in its ten stories, of AUP’s ascension over the past decade,” said President Schenck in her welcoming speech. Designed as a starting point for global explorers as they begin preparing for international careers, it brings together all the services that students need to thrive. Following Schenck’s address, Raymond F. Henze III, Chairman of AUP’s Board of Trustees, spoke about the specific importance of a small liberal arts university education and gave thanks to the philanthropists who helped make the building possible.

Visiting speakers acknowledged the importance of AUP as an international institution of higher education to the vibrancy and diversity of Paris and, in particular, of the 7th arrondissement. Mayor Dati said, “I am delighted that this university is able to develop in this arrondissement, because the more you shine, the more you make us shine with you*.” Lemardeley and Plateau both paid tribute to AUP as an attractive alternative higher-education option in Paris for those looking to study liberal arts in English in an international setting. The importance of Franco-American friendship was another recurring theme, embodied most keenly by the ambassador’s presence. “Today, I work with all sorts of people, thanks to diplomacy not only in a political sense but also culinary, cultural and intellectual,” said McCourt. “Because that’s how we will build a common future for our two countries, by working together**.” At the end of the ceremony, Ambassador McCourt cut a ribbon in red, white and blue – the colors of both the French and US flags – officially declaring the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons open.

The inauguration took place on the eve of the Paris Centennial Conference, a large-scale gathering of academics and diplomats hosted by AUP and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. The conference marks a hundred years since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The Quai building is on the same street as the French Foreign Ministry, where, in 1919, world leaders gathered for the opening of the Paris Peace Conference. During the dedication, AUP’s newly expanded Fine Arts Gallery exhibited a collection of original First World War posters as a nod to the imminent event.

You can watch a video of the dedication ceremony below.


* Original quote: « Je suis aussi ravie que cette université puisse se développer dans cet arrondissement, parce que plus vous rayonnez, plus vous nous faites rayonner avec vous. »

** Original quote: « Aujourd’hui, je réunis tous types de gens, grâce à la diplomatie non seulement politique, mais aussi culinaire, culturelle et intellectuelle. Car c’est comme ça qu’on bâtira un avenir commun pour nos deux pays, en nous entreprenant ensemble. »