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On Jan. 20, Denis Barbet, the Consul General of France in Atlanta, will confer the insignia of Knight in the National Order of Merit on Samia Spencer, Professor Emerita of French in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. Spencer is the former honorary consul of France in Alabama.

The National Order of Merit is an order of the State awarded by the President of the French Republic. It was founded in 1963 by President Charles De Gaulle to reward French and foreign nationals for distinguished civil or military achievements.

Spencer will receive this award on Jan. 20 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to serving France. Named honorary consul of France in Alabama in 2004, she served the local French community and represented the Consulate General on several occasions around the state until her second mandate concluded in July 2013. Spencer has also promoted French language and culture as a professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. As a specialist of 18th century French literature, Spencer has published extensively on topics that range from literature to women and politics in France.

“Dr. Samia Spencer has been a wonderful partner and advocate who has enhanced France’s visibility in the State of Alabama,” said Consul General Denis Barbet. “Her nomination to the National Order of Merit is a way for France to thank her for going above and beyond in her work, particularly in regards to the French community of Alabama.”

Spencer’s significant contribution to education in Alabama earned her the distinctions of Knight in 1990 and Officer in 2003 in the French National Orderof Academic Palms.

Spencer continues to serve French nationals as Chief of District, responsible for relaying information between the French community in her region and the Consulate in case of a state-wide emergency.