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MUDEC Méinden Summer 2020 #6
MUDEC Méinden Summer 2020 #6
Miami UniversityJohn E. Dolibois European Center logo
MUDEC Méinden-Weekly news from the MUDEC community for the MUDEC community-#lifelongMUDEC

Summer 2020 #6

 June 29, 2020

One More Column Before the Road!

Dr. Thierry Leterre

Thierry Leterre
Signing off!

For my last column as dean of MUDEC, I want to mention the newly appeared hydroalcoholic gel dispensers in the corridors. I reflect on the irony that I started as dean of Miami University with the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 and I am ending my tenure with the COVID crisis at hand.

This coincidence makes me pause and think of significant differences I can measure.

One is obvious: 11 years ago, the epidemic was contained. That was good for many reasons. The selfish good reason was that we were not ready. We did not even know where to find the budget to pay for possible hydroalcoholic gel. I was told to use soap instead. 

So, in soap we trusted, and also in the hard work of our cleaning staff. One thing that goes too often unnoticed is that despite the extensive travels of our students, and the multiple contacts that go with them, we have gone decades without flu or other contagious diseases major outbreaks at the Center. It says loud and clear how well the castle is taken care of.

11 years ago, we did not know who would have been in charge of handling the situation. We did not have crisis response strategies in the US and not even a facility manager in Luxembourg to take appropriate measures.

And of course, 11 years ago, we were in no position to develop remote teaching: technology was sub-par (our brochure spelled it out: “We have the Internet!”. I would add: “we even have electricity and running water”). Not to mention that the US course management system simply did not work in Europe.

I quickly concluded that there was a lot of housekeeping to do (metaphorically speaking: I already tackled the actual housekeeping issue). I entered the intricacies of budgeting and made it so that it was understood strategically, and once this was done, advocated for an infrastructure manager’s position. Eventually, thanks to the fantastic work of IT in the US, we got Wifi everywhere in our 15th century castle (imagine how not easy that is). In the US, Miami developed a robust risk management operation. Most of the time, it consisted of making a fuss about very little in a drama queen fashion. 11 years after, solid colleagues have been able to coordinate a swift efficient response to a global crisis. The drama queens did not interfere too much.

In all these changes, the good team my predecessor and admired friend, Dean Stiller, had formed was up to the challenge. 11 years ago, there were 2 people in charge of making decisions at MUDEC: the dean and the assistant dean. Over the years, I have encouraged autonomous decisions for everyone and many of my colleagues took on managerial responsibilities. I thank them for having been game.

11 years ago, my first speech at MUDEC said: “it’s about people”. My last column as dean is about gel!  Now that I am back to being a scholar, I enjoy resuming my work about how objects “talk politics” (or society at large).

Take this big political lesson: 11 years ago, it would have been unthinkable that the US as a country would do far worse in responding to a major health crisis than Asia, the EU, Australia and New Zealand.  The story told by the gel dispenser is also one of major shifts in power and world (dis)organization.

I am still convinced that the essential is about people nonetheless. I have met too many wonderful ones over the years—colleagues, host families, and of course students and parents to forget it.

Not everyone is fantastic of course. I will here slip in a little confession: one of my shortcomings is that I am not patient with mediocre people. They usually (and rightfully) resent it. You know mediocrity when the silence of ideas is overcompensated by the loudness of their expression. In rare instances, I have dealt with xenophobia (as I am French) and was not very happy with how lightly this was taken at Miami (the times, they are changing hopefully). 

There have been tragedies and horrible moments. Those, nothing can sanitize them. Being dean at MUDEC is being exposed to the frailty of life. Believe me, I remember each and every student who has been the victim of serious illness, accident, mental collapse, and death.

I also remember every extraordinary human being I have met. Teaching classes has been a particular experience. In so doing, I adjusted my expectations twice: the first time I taught at MUDEC, I realized that a large group of Miami students considered work optional and caring about their grades my job, not theirs. The second time, I realized that the first time was the exception, not the rule.

Meeting extraordinary people… That is the true privilege of being an academic everywhere in the world. The great surprise for me was to discover Luxembourg, this “grand country on a small territory” as I have been used to calling the Grand Duchy since my first interview in the press.

And I hope that in the future, Miami will continue to give many students and colleagues the same opportunity to discover this beloved place in the world. I will be here to welcome you.
Raymonfd Manes

Raymond Manes, Assistant Dean for Administration at MUDEC, has been appointed Interim Executive Director of MUDEC.
  • MUDEC and Royal Studies Network to host Kings & Queens 9 Conference
    • Thierry Leterre Altrusime Award
    • National Holiday Video

    Kings & Queens 9 Conference

    One of the highlights of this summer at MUDEC was going to be hosting the Royal Studies Network's Kings & Queens 9 Conference at the beginning of July. While COVID-19 forced the in-person conference to be cancelled, we are happy to announce that the conference will take place in an online format from July 1-3.
    Ellie Woodacre, who is Co-Founder of the Royal Studies Netwok, tells us more about the conference below.
    RSN Logo

    From 1-3 July 2020 MUDEC will be hosting the Kings & Queens 9 conference with a theme of “Politics, society and cultures: The transformative impact of monarchies” under the high patronage of His Royal Highness the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg. While the delegates were looking forward to coming to Differdange to hold the conference in the beautiful (and very appropriate) château, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions on social gatherings and travel, it was decided to take the conference online. This is the first ‘virtual’ Kings & Queens conference, but this new online format will make the event accessible to a far wider audience as it will be free to attend, thus having no financial or travel barriers which might otherwise prevent interested parties—scholars, students and the general public--from participating. 

    The Kings & Queens conference series began in 2012 with an event which was hosted at Corsham Court (Wiltshire, England) by Bath Spa University. The success of the initial event spurred the foundation of the Royal Studies Network which provides a forum for scholars and students of royal studies to share information, research and collaborate. The conference has been held annually since 2012—it has been hosted most frequently by the University of Winchester, where the conference’s founder and coordinator, Dr Elena (Ellie) Woodacre, is currently based, but it has also travelled across Europe and to North America. Universities who have hosted the event include the University of Lisbon, Clemson University in the USA, UNED in Madrid, Spain and the University of Catania in Italy. In addition, the Kings & Queens 7 conference was run in collaboration with Historic Royal Palaces in the UK—the opening day of the event was held at Hampton Court Palace.

    It was at Kings & Queens 5 hosted by Clemson University in Greenville, South Carolina, that Thierry Leterre made the offer to bring the conference series to MUDEC. Thierry and the team at MUDEC has worked closely with the RSN founder, Ellie Woodacre on the plans for the conference. The late change from a physical to virtual conference has proven challenging but it has also been a great opportunity to try new formats and reach new participants.

    The event will be completely free of charge and participants can attend as much of the conference as they are able to so please do register to come along and listen to the papers. There will be plenty on offer over the three days of the conference including 12 panels of papers, 2 keynote speakers and four special events including the announcement of the Royal Studies Journal Book Prize winner, a special Publisher's Q&A talk, a 'Pitch a Project' forum and the launch of The Routledge History of Monarchy volume. 

    Please note that the draft programme is subject to change. Keep your eye out on the conference website for updates: Kings & Queens 9 Conference Details. You can also follow the event on twitter though @royalstudies and using the hashtag #KQ9. Hope to see you there!
    Kings & Queens 5 Group Picture
    Kings & Queens 5 Group Picture

    Thierry Leterre "Altruisme" Award

    During its quarterly call in June, the MUDEC Alumni Advisory Board announced the following award to be established in honor of Thierry Leterre:

    Thierry Leterre "Altruisme" Award
    To be first presented in 2020, the Thierry Leterre "Altruisme" Award recognizes an alumna/alumnus who attended Miami University's Dolibois European Center (MUDEC). As a distinguished participant in MUDEC's Service Learning program, the awardee has demonstrated continued dedication to and leadership in community service, nonprofit or related work since graduation from Miami. The award honors Dean Thierry Leterre, who during his 11-year tenure as Dean of MUDEC, conceptualized and instituted MUDEC's Service Learning program, which provides multiple ways for MUDEC students and faculty to give back to the local Differdange, Luxembourg community and create ties of mutual respect and support. 

    Criteria and Evaluation
    Nominations for the Leterre Altruisme Award may be made by any member of the Miami community: faculty, staff, alumni or friend.  The nominee will have been a notable contributor to MUDEC's Service Learning program as a student (as of Fall 2013) and exhibited a continued track record of volunteer or community service thereafter, both at Miami and since graduation, which may be evidenced in various ways.  Nominees will be presented via an online form to the MUDEC Alumni Advisory Board for consideration for this annual award.  MUDEC faculty are included in the evaluation of each nomination.

    Selection and Recognition
    Awardees, once confirmed by the MUDEC Alumni Board and Miami administration, will be presented with a plaque and formal Miami recognition honoring the recipient's sustained commitment to community service, linking the MUDEC Service Learning experience to a dedication to improving the lives of others through service.
    Travel Section Banner
    Travel back to Luxembourg with this video published for last week's National Holiday:
    This Week's Schedule

    Monday-Friday: School's Out for Summer

    Wednesday-Friday: Kings & Queens 9 Virtual Conference
    Château & Administrative Hours
    Aerial view of the Château de Differdange, where Miami's Luxembourg campus, the John E. Dolibois European Center, often abbreviated to MUDEC, is located

    Administrative Hours

    Monday-Friday: 8:00-13:00

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