Ordre des Palmes académiques

The Ordre des Palmes académiques (French for "Order of Academic Palms") is a national order bestowed by the French Republic to distinguished academics and figures in the world of culture and education. Originally established in 1808 by Emperor Napoleon as a decoration to honour eminent members of the University of Paris, it was changed into its current form as an order of merit on 4 October 1955 by President René Coty.[1]

Ordre des Palmes académiques
Commander's neck badge and ribbon
Awarded by Ministry of National Education of the French Republic
TypeOrder of merit
EstablishedDecoration: 1808
Order: 1955
Awarded forDistinguished contributions to education or culture
StatusCurrently constituted
Grand MasterPresident Emmanuel Macron
ChancellorJean-Michel Blanquer, the Minister of National Education
GradesCommander, 1st Class
Officer, 2nd Class
Member/Knight, 3rd Class
Next (higher)Médaille de la Résistance
Next (lower)Order of Agricultural Merit



The three graded ribbon bars of the Order



The early Palmes académiques was instituted on 17 March 1808 and was bestowed only upon teachers or professors.[1][2] In 1850, the decoration was divided into two known classes:

  • Officier de l'Instruction Publique (Golden Palms);[3]
  • Officier d'Académie (Silver Palms).[3]

In 1866, the scope of the award was widened to include major contributions to French national education and culture made by anyone, including foreigners. It was also made available to any French expatriates making major contributions to the expansion of French culture throughout the rest of the world.


Since 1955,[2] the Ordre des Palmes académiques has comprised three grades, each grade having a fixed number of recipients:

  • Commander (Commandeur) – gold cross of 60 mm with a coronet (couronne) worn on necklet.[1]
  • Officer (Officier) – gold cross of 55 mm worn on ribbon with rosette on left breast.[1]
  • Knight (Chevalier) – silver cross of 50 mm worn on ribbon on left breast.[1]

Decisions on nominations and promotions are decided by the Minister of National Education. For those not connected to state-sponsored public education, or the Ministry of National Education, these honours are announced on 1 January, New Year's Day. For all others, they are made on 14 July, which is French National Day.

Notable recipients

French recipients

Foreign recipients

  • Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho (2018)
  • Ahmad Kamyabi Mask, Iranian littérateur, writer, translator, publisher and current Professor Emeritus of Modern Drama and Theater of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Tehran.
  • Ali-Akbar Siassi, Iranian intellectual, psychologist and politician during the 1930s and 1960s, serving as the country's Foreign Minister, Minister of Education, Chancellor of University of Tehran, and Minister of State without portfolio.
  • Alice Lemieux-Lévesque, Canadian-American writer
  • Allan L. Goldstein, American biochemist and co-discoverer of the Thymosins
  • Andrea Zitolo, Italian physical-chemist and material scientist
  • Bruno Bernard, Belgian author dictionary French foreign languages
  • Buddy Wentworth, Namibian politician, for his contributions to the Namibian independence struggle[6]
  • Francis L. Lawrence(1937–2013), American educator and scholar specializing in French literature and university administrator; classical drama and baroque poetry scholar, President of Rutgers University (1990–2002)[7]
  • Léopold Sédar Senghor[2], Senegalese poet, politician, major theoretician of Négritude, first President of Senegal (1960–80), and the first African to be elected as a member of the Académie française
  • Louis Dewis, born Isidore Louis Dewachter in Belgium. Successful merchant and later a Post-Impressionist painter, he was honored for his civic endeavors in the early 1900s
  • Javad Tabatabai, Iranian philosopher and political scientist, Professor and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Tehran. [8]
  • John Kneller (1916-2009), English-American professor and fifth President of Brooklyn College


Member/Knight (Chevalier)Officer (Officier)Commander (Commandeur)


  1. "Décret n°55-1323 du 4 octobre 1955 portant institution d'un ordre des Palmes académiques". Legifrance. French Republic. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  2. "Les Palmes académiques, la plus ancienne distinction civile". Le Parisien. February 22, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  3. Hieronymussen, Poul Ohm (1970). Orders, medals, and decorations of Britain and Europe in colour. London, U.K.: Blandford Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-7137-0445-7. OCLC 768124951.
  4. Evangelista, Nick (1994). The Encyclopedia of the Sword. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-313-27896-9. OCLC 29954316.
  5. "MONIQUE ADOLPHE". Académie royale de médecine de Belgique. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  6. "Former deputy minister Wentworth dies". The Namibian. 5 June 2014.
  7. Lawrence, Francis L. Leadership in Higher Education: Views from the Presidency (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2006), 345.
  8. Javad Tatabai Archived 2013-11-05 at the Wayback Machine, Institut d'études avancées de Paris

Further reading

  • Mirabel-Sérodes, Françoise (2008). Les palmes académiques. Paris: NANEditions. ISBN 978-2-84368-072-4. OCLC 377991989.
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