AUSTIN, Texas — Professor Basil Markesinis, QC. LL.D. (Cantab.), DCL (Oxon.) and Jamail Regents Chair in Law at UT, has been elected a Corresponding Fellow of the French Academy (Institut de France: Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques), the highest academic honor and recognition in France. He is the only law professor in the United States to be elected to membership in the French Academy.
Professor Markesinis work has already earned him a Fellowship of the British Academy, a Foreign Fellowship of the Royal Academies of Belgium and the Netherlands, a Corresponding Fellowship of the Academy of Athens, A Fellowship of the Greek Archaeological Society, and Membership of the American Law Institute. He is the author of one hundred and ten law articles and twenty five books, the latest of which, Comparative Law in the Courtroom and the Classroom, will appear in French, German, and Italian later this year. He has been teaching in Texas since 1986 and also holds a Chair in Comparative Law at University College London, having previously held the Chair of Comparative Law at the University of Oxford (England) between 1995-2000 where he founded and directed the Oxford Institute of European and Comparative Law. Professor Markesinis holds high decorations from France, Germany, Italy, and Greece for his work on European law and integration.
"This is a great — and well-deserved — honor for Professor Markesinis," said Dean Bill Powers. "It is also a great honor for our Law School. As his appointment to the French Academy reflects, Professor Markesinis is known and respected throughout the world for his work in comparative law. We are fortunate that he is at UT and can share his knowledge and wisdom with our faculty and students."
University of Texas at Austin President Larry Faulkner remarked that, "Professor Markesinis is a legal scholar of rare range and mastery. By this election, the French Academy recognizes his extraordinary standing in the international legal community. On behalf of his colleagues in Texas, I offer warm congratulations."
UT Austin Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson noted that, "We are working on all fronts to expand the international reach of programs across campus. Professor Markesinis has been highly effective in these initiatives, especially as they relate to University College London and our Law School. This latest, richly deserved recognition of his accomplishments and the high esteem he commands among his colleagues brings honor to us all."
The Institut de France is the 'umbrella organisation' set up in 1795 to encompass the four (and later) five Academies set up "to promote to perfection arts and sciences in an interdisciplinary manner." The first, which became known as the Académie Française, was set up by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635 to establish the purity of the French language and since this was referred to as an immortal task, the Members of the Academy became known as Immortals. Among its original members one finds such great names as Corneille, Racine and Molière. Soon after (1666) came the creation of the Académie des Belles Lettres, (covering history, archaeology, numismatics etc.) the Académie des Sciences (1666), (later to include Napoleon in his capacity as mathematician), the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (established in 1795 to encompass the extraordinary philosophical and political activity of the writers of the Enlightenment and the Revolutionary period (often stimulated by their close contacts with the American revolutionaries, closed for a time in 1803 and then re-launched in 1832), and then, finally, in 1816 the Académie des Beaux Arts (which amalgamated previously existing smaller academies of painting, sculpture, architecture etc.) In 1803 the combined institutions came to be housed in its present, magnificent building designed by the famous architect Louis Le Vau (also involved in the building of the sumptuous palace of Versailles) whose famous cupola stands out as one of Paris' most attractive landmarks. It was originally erected with funds bequeathed by Cardinal/Prime Minister Mazarin to house the College des Quatre Nations (originally meant to educate talented sons of the upper classes from territories ceded to France by the Treaties of Westphalia (1648) and the Pyrenees (1659) - hence its name). Also housed in the building is the Bibliothèque Mazarin (containing one of the finest collections of Renaissance books and medieval manuscripts in the world) as well as many other private collections of very rare books and materials donated by the 19th century French Prime Ministers, as well as the offices of the Academy.
Among the Academy's distinguished fellows have been Portalis (the main draftsman of the French Code), Fredrick Karl von Savigny, John Austin,(founder with Jeremy Bentham of London's University College), Sir Henry Maine, Sir Frederick Pollock, Francois Geny, Lord Bryce, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the historians de Tocqueville, Leopold von Ranke, and Thomas Macaulay; the philosophers Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and Sir Karl Popper; and famous politicians such as Talleyrand, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Konrad Adenauer, and Dwight D. Eisenhower; as well as numerous great writers such as Chateaubriand and artists such as David and Delacroix.