Appearing under the benefaction of the Departments of French, Italian and West European Studies, French ambassador Bujon de l'Estang will deliver a lecture detailing issues facing the French presidency and its role in the transitional European Union tonight. The lecture, entitled "The State of the European Union and the Priorities of the French Presidency," begins at 5 p.m. in the Moot Court Room of the Law School.\nAccording to the Department of Western European Studies, Bujon de l'Estang, first appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1966 after completing graduate work in business at Harvard, has devoted his career to civil service and atomic energy research. He began his tenure with the French government as special adviser to the staff of President Charles de Gaulle, after which he accepted the appointment of senior adviser for diplomatic affairs under Jacques Chirac, a post he held until 1988. In 1995, he began his term as French diplomat to the U.S. He has additionally served as president and CEO of COGEMA's U.S. Operations.\nChief among the concepts the ambassador will address is the current transitional state of the European Union under French leadership. As negotiations concerning the fate of the ever-expanding Union ensue, France must play a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth transition in modernizing political institutions and establishing the economically fundamental common currency, said Amanda Ciccarelli of the West European Studies Department. The ambassador is expected to address these issues while providing personal insights into the future of the EU.\nFollowing his remarks, de l'Estang will give the Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques, France's highest-ranking academic award, to Albert Valdman, Rudy Professor of French, Italian and Linguistics.\nThe award, created in 1808 by Napoleon Bonaparte as recognition of fine scholarship, research and teaching endeavors, will be given to Valdman. Valdman will then hold the highest rank in the order, that of Commandeur, according to a press release.\nHolding degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, Valdman, a native of Paris, has served as chair of the Department of Linguistics and also established IU's Creole Institute. He currently serves as chair of the Committee for Research and Development in Language Instruction and director of the Beginning French Program, as well as editor of the self-founded Studies in Second Language Acquisition.\nValdman said the lecture marks the first occasion of its kind in 30 years or more. His enthusiasm was echoed throughout the sponsoring departments. \n"It's a really big deal to have the French ambassador present on campus, and we're really encouraging all faculty and students to attend this event," said French department visiting lecturer Daria Roche.