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Bradley’s French Connection

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Fred Einbinder ’73 has lived in Paris, “The City of Light,” for
more than 30 years. Photo by Benh Lien Song.

Even though it meant delaying a visit to his “dream apartment” in Chicago, Fred Einbinder ’73 felt it was important to attend Bradley’s 2013 Homecoming. “I believe we concentrate too much on silver and golden reunions and anniversaries,” Einbinder said. “There is probably something to the biblical 40-year delay. I’m pleased I was able to come. The University grounds looked great, and Peoria is in much better shape than other cities its size.”

Along with his residence in the Printer’s Row neighborhood of Chicago, Einbinder has lived in Paris for more than 30 years and holds dual citizenship. Einbinder met his wife, Martine, who is French, when he taught at the University of Detroit Law School. While he was teaching at the University of Clermont-Ferrand in France as part of an exchange program, his wife was offered a position with the French government, so they moved north to Paris. Over the next three decades, he worked for several French firms that are international leaders in transportation and infrastructure. As group general counsel for Alstom, he oversaw a staff of more than 225 lawyers and helped negotiate multibillion-dollar contracts worldwide, including for the Eurotunnel connecting Paris and London.  

Now retired from the corporate world, the University of Illinois law school graduate credits the “superb teachers and fascinating classes” at Bradley for giving him a strong foundation. Today, Einbinder teaches legal classes at several business and law schools in Paris, including the American University of Paris. He also serves as an advisor for developing countries with the U.N. Commission for Europe.

Einbinder”s first time back on campus since graduating was to celebrate Homecoming 2013. Photo by Duane Zehr.

Introduced to Bradley by his sister, Susan Einbinder Wernick ’69, he liked the University’s size and location. “Having attended an excellent, but impersonal, high school, I was attracted to a smaller school and liked being far enough from home while not too far,” the Chicago native said, adding the late Dr. Penny Pucelik, professor of foreign languages, fueled his interest in France. “Thanks to her teaching and enthusiasm, I became enamored with French culture. While I had no clear plan for settling abroad, I did have hopes of spending a year or so there.” 

A history major at Bradley, Einbinder recalled being drawn to the subject due to “strong upper-class students” in the department, including Paul Remack ’71 and Ed Wehrli ’71, members of the University’s five-time undefeated team on the nationally televised GE College Bowl in 1969. He also remembered classes with Dr. Phil Jones, associate professor of history, and how Dr. William Hall, professor emeritus of political science, encouraged him to participate in a “Washington Semester” program that led to his decision to enter the legal profession. Plus, he fondly recalled games and concerts at Robertson Memorial Field House and life at Tau Epsilon Phi, his fraternity.

As his career spanned the globe, he often found connections with fellow alumni. “I set up a meeting with U.S. Rep. Robert Michel ’48 HON ’81 when we were working with the Washington, D.C., law firm where he was senior counsel,” Einbinder remembered. “We spent more than an hour together, and I learned, much to my surprise, of the congressman’s close ties to my adopted country when he firmly began our discussion by saying, ‘Don’t call me Michael; my name is Michel. My father was French.’”

— Bob Grimson ’81