April 11, 2016

French government honors alumna and former faculty

Marie-Thérèse Reed ’71 in front of a restored WWII truck dedicated to her late husband, Captain William Reed. They met in France during WWII when she was an Army interpreter. Photo by Virginia Schubert ’57.

Marie-Thérèse Reed ’71, a professor of French at St. Catherine from 1963 to 1975, will be conferred the rank of Officer in the Ordre National du Mérite (Order of National Merit) on April 28 for her work in developing Franco-American friendship.

The ceremony will take place on the island of Noirmoutier, on the west coast of France, where Reed, who currently holds the knighthood of the Order of National Merit, has lived since her retirement from the University of Rennes in Brittany.

The Order of National Merit is the second most prestigious decoration given by the French government, after the Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor). President Charles DeGaulle established it in 1963 to recognize distinguished service in the military as well as in the public and private sectors. There are three ranks with this award — Chevalier (knight), Officier (officer) and Commandeur (commander).

“Mme. Reed, in addition to serving as a faculty member, helped make the arrangements and provide connections for the many years of St. Catherine summer institutes in France,” explains Ruth Haag Brombach ’60, alumnae liaison in St. Kate’s Alumnae Relations office. “We ran the institutes under the National Defense Education Act, and gaining that grant was very impressive. We were cited as having some of the best institutes run by any organization that received the grants and, I believe, a lot of that was due to the personality (absolutely vibrant) and connections of Marie Therese Reed.”

Reed, who holds dual French and American citizenship, was also responsible for establishing a graduate summer program between St. Kate’s and the University of Rennes.

“The program brought 40 MBA students from the [University of Rennes] business school to the Twin Cities every summer from 1978 to 1988 for internships in Twin Cities’ companies such as Honeywell, Cargill, 3M, Control Data and General Mills,” notes former colleague Virginia Schubert ’57.

Schubert, a professor emerita of French at Macalester College, will attend the ceremony with two of Reed’s former students, Laurel Keyes Murry ’73 and Maria Nhambu ’62, and Reed’s first assistant, Christine Schulze, now executive director of Concordia Language Villages.

“Dr. Reed continues to be very active on the island of Noirmoutier, volunteering with an organization called the Friends of the Island of Noirmoutier,” adds Schubert. “She is currently editor of the quarterly, Lettre aux amis, which publishes articles on the history of the island and its current activities.”

By Pauline Oo