Catherine Maley (1934-2019)

Catherine Maley was born and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota.  She studied foreign languages for her B.A. degree at the University of Minnesota; and she later taught French and Spanish at Edina High School in suburban Minneapolis before going to the University of Michigan for a Ph.D. in Romance Linguistics (1970).

Appointed immediately thereafter to a faculty position in Romance Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Professor Maley became the first tenured woman faculty member in the French section of her Department. She taught at UNC for more than thirty-five years and also worked actively to advance the status and influence of women within the University.

Her teaching and research in French linguistics led to numerous publications, including a highly successful book on French grammar and conversation, Dans le Vent (1980; republished in four later editions).  Maley also promoted French-American exchanges through her long-time service as director of UNC’s Study Abroad program at the University of Montpellier. 

She became President of the Institut Français de Washington (IFW) in 1990.  Recruiting new officers and others to serve on the Institut’s Board of Trustees, Maley organized public events on French-American relations, raised funds to support American graduate student research in France, hosted donors at elegant French-style meals or receptions, and developed new financial awards for students and teachers of French culture.   She also managed an important renaming process by which the IFW became the Institut Français d’Amérique (IFA) in 2008.

In recognition of her work in French linguistics and her service to French-American cultural relations, the French Education Ministry appointed Professor Maley in 1994 as a foreign member (Chevalier) of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

Maley completed her term of IFA presidential leadership in 2012, but she remained involved with French-American relations—in part because one of her former UNC graduate students, Professor Richard J. Golsan of Texas A & M University, succeeded her as President of the IFA.

The Catherine Maley fellowship thus honors a scholar in French linguistics, an advocate for women in university departments, an organizer of American study abroad programs in France, and an institutional leader who long facilitated the Institut Français d’Amérique’s support for graduate research in France.  

Lloyd S. Kramer
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hil