Rice University President David Leebron received the Order of Isabel la Catolica, with the royal sanction of King Felipe VI, from the government of Spain. This “Encomienda” is awarded to recognize and support activities that benefit Spain and its people.

President David Leebron said he sees the award as a way of acknowledging the work Rice has done internationally.

“Over the past decade, Rice has indeed increased its interactions with the Spanish government and its institutions of higher education,” Leebron said. “All of these efforts have been part of our university-wide work toward making Rice a more internationally oriented university.

In Spain specifically, Rice has strong educational relations due to agreements with some Spanish universities, and with the Ministry of Education in Spain. The relationship with the Ministry of Education in Spain facilitated the establishment of the Spanish Resource Center here on campus. Rice has provided a Spanish Film Festival and other activities of the sort over the last eight years.

Additionally, Spain has been a popular destination for Rice students studying abroad. Thirty-five students spent a semester there over the course of the 2014-15 school year. Finally, Rice has partnered with universities throughout Spanish-speaking America to increase on-campus awareness of the Spanish-speaking world’s languages and cultures and engagement in Latin America.

Leebron was recognized with the “Encomienda” in a private ceremony at Spain’s Consul General Residence. He said he appreciated the efforts of different parts of the university that contributed to the award.

“This award really is for the university and reflects the enormous contributions of our faculty and staff toward increasing our engagement with Spain and Hispanic culture, which has been one of our international priorities,” Leebron said.

For future steps, Leebron plans to internalize this encouragement by continuing Rice’s efforts to strengthen its relationships with universities, governments, and industry in Spain.