German government to honor Penn State professor emeritus

June 10, 2008

University Park, Pa. — One of Germany's highest civilian awards, the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band, Knight of the Cross of the Order of Merit, has been awarded to Francis Gentry, professor emeritus of German at Penn State, for his significant contributions to the academic cooperation between Germany and the United States.
The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was instituted in 1951 by Federal President Theodor Heuss. It is the only honor that may be awarded in all fields of endeavor and is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation. The honor may be awarded to Germans as well as foreigners for achievements in the political, economic, social or intellectual realm and for all kinds of outstanding services to the nation in the field of social, charitable or philanthropic work.

In particular, the award honors Gentry's work on behalf of the Alexander von Humboldt Association of America and his active role in fostering exchange programs between American and German universities.

Gentry came to Penn State from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991 as head of the Department of German, a position he held until 1997.  His research agenda encompasses broad areas of medieval culture and medieval German literature as well as the reception of the Middle Ages in the modern period. He is the author and editor of 14 books, most recently the "Companion to Hartmann von Aue" (Camden House), the "Companion to Middle High German Studies"(Brill) and "The Nibelungen Tradition: An Encyclopedia" (Routledge), of which he is co-editor.

He is past president of the Medieval Association of the Midwest. He served on the editorial board of the German Quarterly (1991-1994), was for many years the German Editor for Studies in Medievalism, and the book review editor for Monatshefte. He has lectured extensively both here and abroad on medieval and modern topics and was a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (1978-79, 1984) for research in Munich and Freiburg.  In 2007 the College of the Liberal Arts honored Professor Gentry with its Distinguished Emeritus Award.

An official celebration in the presence of the Consul General of Germany will take place in early fall.

  • Francis Gentry, professor emeritus of German

    IMAGE: Greg Grieco
Last Updated November 18, 2010