(October 15, 2010)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

French Ambassador names professor as honorary consul

watch video Video: Introductions; Dr. Kress Speaks

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service) — He was named the Louisiana Teacher of the Year, honored by the city of Shreveport with a day named after him, and inducted into the Ordre des Palmes Academiques, the highest academic distinction given by the French government.

Ambassador of France to the United States, Ambassador Pierre Vimont congratulates Centenary French professor Dr. Dana Kress as a new honorary consul of France. (Courtesy Shreveport Times)

Dana Kress, a French professor at Centenary College, received yet another honor when he was invested as Honorary Consul of France on Thursday.

The French Ambassador to the United States, Pierre Vimont, made his first trip to Northwest Louisiana to bestow the title on Dr. Kress, who will now represent the French republic under the authority of the Consul General in Louisiana. In this new role, he will further promote the relationship between the state and France.

"For this to happen to me, is probably the most touching moment in my life," said Kress, who was clearly touched by the outpouring of support from those gathered at the ceremony. "Coming from a small town in Tennessee, French was a world that opened a world to me. I started reading French writers, and they taught me about freedom."

Speaking to the friends, family and members of the College gathered, Ambassador Vimont said the reason Kress was selected for the honor was because of his dedication and involvement in the French language and culture in north Louisiana.

"Mentioning all of your accomplishments would take us far in the afternoon," he said. "I am sure they are known to all your friends here. Henceforth I shall spare your modesty by telling you very simply but most sincerely, dear Dana, how honored and blessed we are to be able to rely on you from now on to make us aware of the dynamism and trends in north Louisiana. I have no doubt you will continue to be, in your capacity, as you have always been."

According to Dr. David Rowe, president of Centenary College, this appointment will be another opportunity to further relations between the College and the nation of France.

"This is indeed a very special occasion for Centenary College, for the state of Louisiana, and for our relationship with the great nation of France," he said. "Centenary College has had a long history of promoting the French language and the French culture, and today signals a tribute to that long history so well stewarded by our professor of French, Dr. Dana Kress."

Kress agreed, saying he hopes it will also help open more opportunities for students at the College.

"It gives us more contacts all over the world, and gives us a way to have an outreach that we have never had before," he said. "It will also put us in the forefront of international studies in French and the Francophone world."

Kress, originally from Jackson, Tenn., began his teaching career at the College in 1992 after completing his Ph.D. in French from Vanderbilt University. He has served as assistant professor of French, associate curator of the Meadows Museum of Art, Chair of the ancient and modern language department and editor-in-chief of Les Éditions Tintamarre, the College's French language press.

Kress was named to the honorary position in December 2009 by the French Ministry of Foreign and European. The appointment is for five years, but renewable up until the time he reaches age 65. He also will receive official accreditation from the U.S. State Department, the use of the official seal of France and French flag, and an office at the Consulate General of France building in New Orleans.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and has been recognized as "One of the Best 373 Colleges" by the Princeton Review and one of "America's Best Colleges" and one of "America's Best Private Colleges" by Forbes.com. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.