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In 1866, the scope of the award was widened to include major contributions to French national education and culture made by anyone, including foreigners. It was also made available to any French expatriates making major contributions to the expansion of French culture throughout the rest of the world.
Since 1955, the Ordre des Palmes académiques has comprised three grades, each grade having a fixed number of recipients:
Commander (Commandeur) - gold cross of 60 mm with a coronet (couronne) worn on necklet.
Officer (Officier) - gold cross of 55 mm worn on ribbon with rosette on left breast.
Knight (Chevalier) - silver cross of 50 mm worn on ribbon on left breast.
Decisions on nominations and promotions are decided by the Minister of National Education. For those not connected to state-sponsored public education, or the Ministry of National Education, these honours are announced on 1 January, New Year's Day. For all others, they are made on 14 July, which is French National Day.
Ahmad Kamyabi Mask, Iranian littérateur, writer, translator, publisher and current Professor Emeritus of Modern Drama and Theater of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Tehran.
Ali-Akbar Siassi, Iranian intellectual, psychologist and politician during the 1930s and 1960s, serving as the country's Foreign Minister, Minister of Education, Chancellor of University of Tehran, and Minister of State without portfolio.
Bruno Bernard, Belgian author dictionary French foreign languages
Buddy Wentworth, Namibian politician, for his contributions to the Namibian independence struggle
Francis L. Lawrence(1937-2013), American educator and scholar specializing in French literature and university administrator; classical drama and baroque poetry scholar, President of Rutgers University (1990-2002)
Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegalese poet, politician, major theoretician of Négritude, first President of Senegal (1960-80), and the first African to be elected as a member of the Académie française
Louis Dewis, born Isidore Louis Dewachter in Belgium. Successful merchant and later a Post-Impressionist painter, he was honored for his civic endeavors in the early 1900s
Javad Tabatabai, Iranian philosopher and political scientist, Professor and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Tehran.