Samuel Hoi, president of Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester, was recognized by the French government with a Palmes AcadÈmiques award Thursday, September 21st.

The insignia of Officer in the Order of Academic Palms was conferred on him by Philippe Larrieu, French consul general in Los Angeles.

The Palmes AcadÈmiques is an order founded by French emperor NapolÈon Bonaparte, whom historians say appreciated the importance of education.

By the decree of March 17th, 1808, Bonaparte established a series of honorary titles as rewards for devotion and accomplishment in the areas of teaching, scholarship and research.

In 1955, three ranks were created in ascending order — chevalier (knight), officier (officer) and commandeur (commander).

France and French culture have been with Hoi throughout his life and design career, according to a college source. As a teenager in Hong Kong, he studied French, and French literature was one of his undergraduate majors at Columbia University in New York City. From 1988 to 1991, he lived and worked in Paris as director of the Paris campus of the Parsons School of Design.

In 2005, as Otis president, he was invited by the French government to revisit Paris to explore potential educational exchange activities.

“I am delighted that I could combine my personal and professional interests in international outreach at Otis, a creative and academic community that understands the importance of global exchanges,” Hoi said.

In recent years, Otis has presented French talents such as writer Bernard-Henri Levy and fashion curator Pamela Golbin, and collaborated with the French Consulate and peer institutions on projects such as “Jeunes Talents” and literary exchange events.

Since 1988, Otis has led an annual trip to Paris for its freshman students.

In April 2005, Otis faculty member Guy Bennett was presented with the insignia of Knight in the Order of the French Academic Palms for his own contribution in promoting French culture.

“The French Consulate in Los Angeles has been a most active and gracious partner with Otis in promoting exchanges between Paris and Los Angeles,” Hoi said.

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