Business & Government

Former President Of France Speaks At Texas A&M, Honors Bush School Professor

François Hollande delivered a talk on global security and terrorism before presenting Dr. Richard Golsan with one of France’s highest academic honors.
By Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications April 18, 2024

a photo of a man in a suit and round eyeglasses sitting in a chair talking
François Hollande, former president of France, discusses “Upheavals: The New World Disorder and Democracy’s Struggle with Terrorism” on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center in College Station, Texas.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


During his tenure as president of the French Republic from 2012 to 2017, François Hollande navigated a series of unprecedented challenges at home and abroad — from military engagements with extremist groups in Africa to the growing threat of global climate change and the spate of terrorist attacks that rocked the nation in 2015 and 2016.

The former head of state spoke about these and other trials during a talk Wednesday evening hosted by the French Institute of Texas A&M University — a unit of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. In a wide-ranging speech to a crowd of several hundred at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, Hollande laid out his vision of the most pressing global threats facing Western democracies today, including the rise of authoritarian states in China and Russia and regional conflicts like the ones in Ukraine, Sudan and Gaza.

“We should be frightened by the new division of the world, between democracies on one side and authoritarian regimes on the other, reminiscent of the split during the Cold War,” he said, urging continued cooperation between the United States and Europe and a renewed focus on outreach to nations in the Global South.

Other topics included the evolving face of global terrorism and the questions posed by global warming. As president, Hollande oversaw the response to the deadly attacks by Islamist extremists in Paris and Nice as well as the creation of the Paris Climate Accords. He said the international community must continue to make progress on these challenges, as well as new ones related to global pandemics and the rise of disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, all which have “powerfully threatened our democracies.”

“We must form strong ties with all those who share our goals,” Hollande said. “We must invent a new way of working together, without alignment or hierarchy, but with a crystal clear conception of our common interests… The challenge is to create negotiation spaces and build broad coalitions in order to demonstrate that humanity can address the issues and give, in this lonely moment, a little hope for new generations.”

a photo of two men in suits, one standing at a podium talking while the other looks on and smiles
Hollande promotes Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor Dr. Richard Golsan to the rank of officer in the Order of Academic Palms, one of the French Republic’s oldest civil honors.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


During his visit, Hollande also fielded a series of questions presented by professor and head of the Bush School’s International Affairs Department Dr. David Bearce before capping off the night by presenting French Institute Director and University Distinguished Professor Dr. Richard Golsan with one of France’s highest civilian and academic honors. A leading scholar and prolific author of contemporary French history, Golsan received a promotion to the rank of officer in France’s Ordre des Palmes académiques or Order of Academic Palms, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of education and the dissemination of French culture.

“Officer Golsan’s remarkable achievements in the fields of French literature, European studies and historical justice make him a truly deserving recipient of this prestigious decoration,” Hollande said.

Golsan, who previously held the lower rank of knight in the order, said he was honored to receive the award from Hollande and proud to share a stage with the influential figure during his trip to Aggieland.

“It’s a delight to be honored like this in front of so many friends and colleagues,” he said. “I know that our community has been enriched by your presence and your knowledge.”

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