A Reid Hall Legacy

by Robert O. Paxton, Mellon Professor Emeritus of Social Sciences, Modern Europe

A graduate of Barnard College with a Ph.D in 17th century comparative literature from Columbia, Danielle Haase-Dubosc was an assistant professor in Barnard's  French Department  when the Columbia administration asked her in 1975 to run academic programs at the University's French property. She ran Reid Hall, which ultimately became Columbia's Global Center in Paris, until 2010 when she retired.

Reid Hall had been left to Columbia in 1964 by the family of Whitelaw Reid, who had bought the house while serving as American ambassador to France in the 1890s. The eighteenth-century building on the Left Bank of Paris had served successively as a porcelain factory, a military hospital during World War I, and a residence for American women who had come to Paris to study art, but it had never been well-integrated into Columbia’s curriculum. Columbia was even debating whether to sell it.

Danielle Haase-Dubosc created academic programs at Reid Hall that dealt not only with French language and literature but with a wide range of subjects, from public health to political science to architecture. She negotiated agreements with Paris educational institutions that provided access for Reid Hall students to French university courses along with special mentoring. Reid Hall programs became so popular that they produced a profit for Columbia, putting an end to all thoughts of selling the building.

Haase-Dubosc was perfectly bilingual and dealt as effectively with the Paris academic world as she did with her Columbia colleagues. Born in France, she was also a naturalized American citizen. Her father lived in New York as head of the United States branch of the French firm Thomson-CSF.

Haase-Dubosc maintained her scholarly interests while working full time as an academic administrator. Trained as a specialist in seventeenth-century literature and motivated by feminist convictions, she participated actively in scholarly conferences and publications not only in France but as far afield as India. Her major work entitled Ravie et enlevée explored the kidnapping of noble women for marriage as a theme in early modern French literature, in historical experience, and in legal practice.