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Heidelberg University Celebrates Montpellier Day

Press Release No. 211/2011
24 June 2011
Ambassador honours Heidelberg’s Rector for services to French education system

In the year of Heidelberg University’s 625th anniversary, the cities of Heidelberg and Montpellier also have something to celebrate: the 50th anniversary of the twinning between the two cities and their universities. It is to mark this occasion that 28 June 2011 during Heidelberg University’s Festival Week has been declared Montpellier Day. There will be a festive ceremony in the Old University. Among the guests are the French ambassador Maurice Gourdault-Montagne and delegations from the partner universities in Montpellier. On this occasion, the rector of Heidelberg University, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, will receive one of the highest distinctions of the Republic of France for his services to the French education system. The ambassador will confer on him the title of “Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques”.

After a speech of welcome by the rector, there will be a short address by the French ambassador. Subsequently Prof. Dr. Philippe Augé, president of Montpellier University I, and Prof. Dr. Dominique Deville de Périère, president of the PRES Université Montpellier Sud de France, will speak to the audience. Professor Deville de Périère is an honorary senator of Heidelberg University. At the heart of the ceremony is a lecture by Dr. Rainer Hudemann, professor at Saarland University in Saarbrücken and the Université Paris-Sorbonne, entitled “Germany and France: The Foundations for an Intriguing Association”.

The “Ordre des Palmes Académiques” goes back to Napoleon I. It served as a distinction for outstanding personalities in the French higher-education landscape. In its present-day form it is also awarded to international academics. During the ceremony the Great University Medal of Heidelberg University will be awarded to Prof. Augé “in recognition of his services in enhancing the profile of the partnership between the universities of Heidelberg and Montpellier”. Prof. Dr. Philippe Coursier, professor of law at the Université Montpellier I, will also be honoured for his “committed support and furtherance of the partner relations between the Faculties of Law” of the two universities.

The ceremony in the Great Hall of the Old University is part of the Heidelberg Montpellier Days organised by the City of Heidelberg from 26 to 29 June 2011. An exhibition in the foyer of Heidelberg City Hall documents the twinning between the two cities and universities. For the Anniversary Festival Week (25 June - 2 July 2011), Heidelberg University has arranged a wide range of events to which members, alumni and friends of the University are cordially invited. Festival Week is the highpoint of the celebrations marking the university’s 625th anniversary. The Anniversary Year ends in October 2011 with the Annual Ceremony. For more information, go to

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