AUP graduation ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

The American University of Paris

A Year in Review: 2019

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As we start the new year and the new decade, it’s a good moment to look back and take stock of past achievements. 2019 was a landmark year for AUP; several major development projects came to an end and ushered in exciting new beginnings.

Reaffirming AUP’s Position as the Home of the Global Liberal Arts

Spring semester was marked by the culmination of two huge initiatives, both of which had been years in the planning. The first of these was the Global Professional Skills (GPS) Program, AUP’s signature co-curricular initiative, which launched for all degree-seeking undergraduates. Students work toward completing the program throughout their four years at AUP by keeping track of co-curricular activities linked to AUP’s four Liberal Arts Core Capabilities: adaptable communicators with a global perspective; responsible actors and empowered leaders; independent, creative thinkers; and engaged, lifelong learners.

The program aims to help students develop a personal narrative that brings together their academic pursuits and their interests outside the classroom – with the ultimate goal of presenting themselves to graduate admissions panels or potential employers. At the end of the program, there is a chance to compete for the President’s GPS award: in May, four finalists presented their narratives to a panel of faculty, trustees and alumni from across the AUP community – including President Celeste M. Schenck herself.

The second milestone achievement was the grand opening of the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons: for the first time at AUP, all essential curricular and co-curricular services were brought together into a single, central hub for student life and learning. The building serves as a launchpad for global explorers, preparing them to lead productive lives in international careers. Key services in the Learning Commons include the AUP Library and the Center for Academic, Career and Experiential Advising.

The new building connects to AUP's existing Combes Student Life Center via a glass atrium to create a combined Student Life and Learning Commons. The idea is to collocate all services that enhance a student’s AUP experience, helping students take a holistic view of a liberal arts education. The formal dedication ceremony of the Learning Commons, held in May, was attended by Rachida Dati, Mayor of the 7th arrondissement, the neighborhood of our founding. Nearly 60 years later, we’re proud to still call this quartier home.

Engaging Conferences and Inspiring Speakers

It was a busy year for events and conferences at AUP. In May, the University played host to the largest academic gathering it had ever organized: the Paris Centennial Conference. Cohosted by AUP’s Center for Critical Democracy Studies and the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School, the conference marked 100 years since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Scholars from across disciplines and all levels of academia joined policy makers, diplomats and patrons of the conference to discuss new perspectives on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and its ongoing impact on global society. Keynote speakers included Professor Adam Tooze of Columbia University and Professor Margaret Macmillan of Oxford University and the University of Toronto.

Other prominent events in 2019 included the Comparative Lenses conference, hosted by the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention, which looked at the ways in which archival video testimony of the survivors and perpetrators of genocide and mass violence are used in scholarly research; a discussion of war and leadership via a lecture from retired four-star general John W. Nicholson, Jr.; and a student-hosted panel on the costs and benefits of Brazilian membership of international organizations, attended by Paulo César de Oliveira Campos, the Brazilian ambassador to France.

As well as academic guests, the University hosted several prominent artists as part of the AUP Fine Arts Gallery’s exhibition series. Noted vernissages in 2019 included those of Taiwanese fashion designer Sophie Hong; the American painter Bunny Harvey, whose exhibition Survival Tactics focused on the unseen, often invasive elements of urban spaces; and Professor Emeritus Ralph Petty, the original curator of the Fine Arts Gallery, who this year returned to AUP to exhibit in the gallery he founded over 15 years ago.

AUP Had Much to Be Thankful For in 2019

In May we said goodbye to another generation of global explorers at our annual commencement ceremony in Paris’s Théâtre de Mogador. The graduating class of 2019 included 183 undergraduate students and 41 graduate students, who together studied across 26 bachelor’s and 4 master’s degree programs. As one generation moved on to the next stage of life as global citizens, so a new intake of students arrived at AUP: at Fall Orientation, we welcomed 500 new arrivals, who between them spoke 51 languages and held 62 nationalities. We are proud to continue to host such a diverse student body – one that fosters the exchange of ideas and perspectives across cultures.

In November, the AUP community came together to enjoy a Thanksgiving celebration in the American Church in Paris – the same building in which the University’s first classes were held, back in 1962. In the spirit of the season, members of our community once again displayed overwhelming generosity by supporting our fundraising drive on Giving Tuesday, an annual global celebration of charitable support. This year, our #OneMoreJourney campaign raised money for the Coup de Pouce travel fund. The final total was over €30,000, more than three times the original target, which ensured that an average of 125 extra students will benefit from the lasting experience of a study trip as part of AUP’s Cultural Program.

In December, we rounded out the year by launching the first-ever alumni careers issue of the AUP Magazine. Featuring contributions by alumni from across the globe, the magazine highlights the meaningful careers that members of the AUP community are leading worldwide. Alumni wrote about careers in fields such as ocean conservation, high-end fashion and international diplomacy; such a varied display of activity and achievement provided yet more evidence of the positive impact that AUP alumni are having all over the world.