PARIS, France — On Feb. 19, 2004, the French Government honored Houston attorney Gibson Gayle Jr. with the Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'Honneur for his pivotal support for the Institute of Transnational Law at The University of Texas School of Law and its web site of translated leading decisions of the French courts. The French law web site has received more than 150,000 visits in the past nine months, with each visit of an average duration of two hours.
Created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Légion d’Honneur is France’s highest award given for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipients. It is also widely regarded as one of Europe's most prestigious civic honors.
“I’m honored to receive this great distinction,” said Gayle in a telephone interview conducted after his return to Houston.
Professor Basil Markesinis, Law School Foundation Vice President Kenneth Roberts, ’51, and his wife Cary Roberts, as well as members of the Gayle family attended the ceremony which was held in Paris at the French government’s equivalent of the State Department.
Gayle, president of M.D. Anderson Foundation and former managing partner of Fulbright & Jaworski, was instrumental in raising funds for the Institute’s website that was launched last March at a special event in Paris. UT’s Institute for Transnational Law—largely funded by the Houston-based M.D. Anderson Foundation—was set up by the Law School to enhance the teaching of foreign and comparative law at the University, to help build international contacts for the Law School, and to increase student exchanges between UT and other major law schools. The Institute’s website provides a database of hundreds of leading French and German decisions translated into English.
Commenting on the award, UT Law Professor Basil Markesinis, Director of UT's Institute of Transnational Law, said, "Gib and the Anderson Foundation of Houston have done more than anyone else to put UT's Institute of Transnational Law on the map. Our website of leading French (and German) cases, which the Institute is building up in co-operation with the Institute of Global Law of University College London, currently exceeds 2.5 million words. I expect it soon to become the largest repository of non-Anglo-American jurisprudence made available for the first time in the English language.” He added, “I admire Gib's extraordinary vision and warmly welcome the recognition given to him by a characteristically generous French gesture, all the more so since it comes at a time when we all need to be reinforcing the links between the two sides of the Atlantic pond."
Dean Bill Powers, under whose watch UT's international profile has taken such great leaps forward, also applauded Gayle’s well-deserved honor. "Gib is a wonderful friend, and he truly deserves this honor. His generosity and vision have helped us match our growing links with Mexico and Latin America with a program that re-kindles our links with the Continent of Europe. This enhances our profile and strengthens our international scholarship. Over the years, Gib has earned our admiration and our affection. I am grateful to him and Professor Markesinis for helping design this transnational policy and implement it so rapidly."
The head of “Marianne,” the symbolic figure of the French Republic
is on the front of the medal, which is shaped like a five-sided double-pointed
star and encircled by a green wreath of oak and laurel leaves. It hangs from
a red-silk ribbon.