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Marta Garcia bestowed upon the insignia of Chevalier of the National Order of Merit

Published on October 29, 2012
Speech by Ambassador François Delattre

Atlanta, Georgia, October 25, 2012

Dear President Peterson,

Provost Brass,

Vice-Provost Yves Berthelot,

Dr. Steve McLaughlin,

Dear Friends,

Dear Marta Garcia,

It is a great pleasure and a true privilege for our new Consul General Denis Barbet and for me to be here with you today, at such a prestigious university, together with so many eminent guests, to honor a great professional and contributor to French-American friendship: Marta Garcia.

I would like to express my warmest thanks to Georgia Tech for hosting us and our Consul General for organizing this event, and to extend a warm welcome to Marta Garcia’s family and friends who have joined us tonight to express their admiration and support.

In a few minutes, Marta Garcia will be awarded the insignia of the National Order of Merit, with the rank of Chevalier. The National Order of Merit is a State order awarded by the President, and was established in 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle to reward French and foreign nationals for very distinguished achievements. It is one of France’s highest distinctions.

Before I proceed with the ceremony, I would like to recognize Georgia Tech’s impressive performance as a major university in the United States. And its economic impact, particularly in the Southeast, is also a crucial force.

Georgia Tech was one of the first American universities to understand that international cooperation in science and higher education is an essential part of educating students in the 21st century. President Peterson,
I would like to commend you for reinforcing this strategic choice, and for promoting the university’s development abroad.

Relations between France and Georgia Tech, in particular, are characterized by a remarkably high level of cooperation, and Marta Garcia has been among the main architects of this very special partnership.

Dear Marta,

You received your Bachelor’s degree in Russian language and literature from Indiana University in Bloomington.

Your first professional experiences included elementary teaching and metals trading at the Dutchess Day School and Itex International, respectively.

This first experience in education led you to your career of choice: development and fundraising activities, initially for Vassar College, in 1987, where you ultimately handled major gifts.

From Vassar College in New York, you moved to Georgia in 1996 to work for the Georgia Institute of Technology, which you’ve now called home for the past 16 years.

At Georgia Tech you have been instrumental in building the Institute’s academic unit development program, especially while working as Assistant Vice President for Development. In this position, you managed all development activities for the six colleges of Georgia Tech.

You broadened and rearranged this program by making it a true reflection of the interdisciplinary thrust that characterizes Georgia Tech’s teaching and research programs.

But that was not enough, and for the last eight years you have been building Georgia Tech’s international development activities and playing a pivotal role in increasing its global footprint in science and technology.

Dear Marta, in all of your undertakings, you demonstrate excellence, effectiveness and dedication. Your vision of Georgia Tech’s international future, from Metz to Shanghai, has inspired the university’s leaders and led to many solid long-term projects that are strategic to Georgia Tech’s future. Your patience and kindness, your diplomatic abilities and your deep understanding of other cultures are some of the keys to your success.

Working hand-in-hand with your peers, Drs. Yves Berthelot and Steve McLaughlin, you contributed to solidifying the exceptional partnership between Georgia Tech and Lorraine, and through your development activities, making this transatlantic cooperation what it is today: an excellent framework for a fast-growing flow of student exchanges, the opportunity for many teaching collaborations in various scientific fields, and a favorable environment for joint research in many areas of physics and engineering.

Thanks to your efforts, Georgia Tech Lorraine is an outstanding achievement and an example of a very successful long-term partnership between France and the United States.

I can tell you that promoting French-American University collaborations is one of my top priorities as Ambassador and that the partnership with Georgia Tech is a powerful source of inspiration in this respect.

You are also largely responsible for the success of the French Consulate’s joint initiative with Georgia Tech: “France-Atlanta.” When Pascal Le Deunff presented his idea for a series of French-American events centered on innovation back in 2010, it was you who offered to co-present it with Georgia Tech.

Three years later, France-Atlanta is thriving, bringing together more than 3,000 attendees each year and, above all, leading to concrete cooperation projects between France and this region.

You are a true Ambassador of France, whose love for France goes beyond the professional sphere. Your husband George, to whom I would also like to pay tribute tonight, told us that born in Germany, raised in the United States, you apparently always wanted to be French! I cannot blame you for that.

In grade school, you told your teachers that you were adopted in France after the war. Years later, during a first trip to Metz, you were so excited and happy to be in my country that you missed your flight back to America. Finally, when your newlywed daughter moved to France, you threatened to move in with her. To the relief of everyone in your family, you stayed in Atlanta. You now practice your French with our very own press attaché Claire Collobert! To this day, your love affair with France continues and most likely will never end.

In recognition of your great achievements and your tireless efforts to strengthen cooperation between France and the United States, the President of the French Republic has decided to bestow upon you the rank of Chevalier in the National Order of Merit. It is a privilege for me to present you with this distinguished award.

Marta Garcia, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite./.

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