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University Communications

The Inauguration of President Sonya Stephens

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The American University of Paris, Europe’s premier American international institution of higher learning, marked, on October 20, 2022, an exciting new milestone in its 60-year history: the inauguration of Professor Sonya Stephens as its 13th President. The inauguration ceremony took place in the American Church in Paris, where the University’s first classes were held in 1962.

President Stephens joins AUP following its 60th anniversary celebrations – along with the University's largest-ever intake of incoming students. “It is with deep gratitude for your confidence and support, and in admiration for and admiration of The American University of Paris, that I accept this charge to serve as its 13th President,” said Stephens, in a bilingual address in English and French following her investiture. “I’m cognizant of the responsibilities that this represents and of the honor to be in the service of this remarkable institution, and I’m so grateful for your presence today as I formally take office.”

Stephens was welcomed by a series of addresses from speakers representing students, faculty, staff, trustees and alumni, which took a welcoming and celebratory tone, praising her personal qualities – most notably her listening skills, her status as a committed Francophile and her clear alignment with AUP’s educational values – and expressing excitement at what AUP’s new chapter may hold. Stephens’ invited speaker – Professor Robert Lethbridge, Master of the Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge – spoke of Sonya’s impressive academic record and of their lifelong friendship. Speeches were punctuated by musical and dance performances showcasing the creativity and talent of AUP’s student body.

Alongside members from all constituencies of AUP’s global community, several invitees from other French, American and international institutions across the City of Light were in attendance. Rachida Dati, the mayor of the 7th arrondissement, provided an opening guest address, expressing the importance of AUP and similar Franco-American institutions to the cultural diversity of the local area and Paris more generally.

Several key players from the University’s history, including two past presidents, were also in the audience; the breadth of attendees spoke to the enduring legacy of AUP’s 60-year history. “On behalf of my fellow trustees, I extend our warmest welcome,” said Board Chair Doris Daughney, who presided over Stephens’ official investiture. “Our mission, to provide student-centered, academically rigorous, career-enabling and transformative experience, in order to launch graduates who will assume their place as responsible actors and leaders, is supported by all of you here.”

Following the ceremony, President Stephens met with audience members during an evening reception in AUP’s flagship Student Life and Learning Commons, just a few doors down at 69, quai d’Orsay.

You can watch the full inauguration ceremony below.