History of the BAEF

The Belgian American Educational Foundation (B.A.E.F.) was instituted as the successor to the Commission for Relief in Belgium that took on the huge task of sustaining the population of occupied Belgium (C.R.B.) and a portion of France during the four years of World War I.

The Commission for Relief in Belgium C.R.B. (1914)
The Belgian American Educational Foundation (1920)
The First Quarter Century (1920-1945)
The Second Quarter Century (1946-1971)
The Third Quarter Century (1971-1995): growth of a bi-national Foundation
Special Programs (since 1979)

The Commission for Relief in Belgium C.R.B. (1914)

The Commission for Relief of Belgium (C.R.B.), the parent organization of the Belgian American Educational Foundation, was created in October 1914 by Herbert Hoover. A group of prominent Belgians and Americans residing in Belgium had approached the American Ambassador to Great Britain to find a leader to organize measures of relief in the face of agonizing food shortage in Belgium. Herbert Clark Hoover, age 40, an American mining engineer with offices in London accepted the challenge. Without taking any salary and paying for his own expenses, Hoover set up the import and purchase of crops from the USA within an operational framework that included five centers. Shipping, finance and diplomatic missions were organized from the C.R.B. executive headquarters in London.

In Brussels, the American Director of the C.R.B. supervised the relief through a volunteer group of American delegates. The agent of C.R.B. in Belgium, the Comité National de Secours et d’Alimentation with Ernest Solvay as Chairman and Emile Francqui as President organized food distribution in occupied Belgium through Provincial Committees.

London, August 24, 1916. Standing from left to right: H. Foster Bain, Roland F. Hill, Herbert Owen, G.I. Gay, W.J. Cozens, J.A. Nash, L. Belrose, Ben S. Allen, R.H. Jones, L.D. Mapes. Seated from left to right: E. Sengier, Millard K. Shaler, Edgar Rickard, W. L. Honnold, Herbert Hoover, J. Beaver White, W. B. Poland, Hugh S. Gibson

In Rotterdam, the cargo was unloaded, warehoused, repackaged and sent by rail and canal to Belgium. New York was the principal purchasing center and a recruiting center for Americans who wished to volunteer as C.R.B. representatives. Paris was the center for French financing negotiations and for tackling problems affecting Northern France.

Under the dynamic and capable leadership of Herbert Hoover, the C.R.B. had over 900 million U.S. dollars in receipts over the period of the War, financed by the governments of the United States, Great Britain, France and Belgium, as well as by massive voluntary donations from all over the civilized world. With these funds more than 5 million metric tons of provisions were secured and distributed in Belgium and Northern France. If one includes the internal advances of the C.R.B. in Belgium and Northern France, this makes a total outlay of 2.8 billion dollars worth of necessities of life.

The balances in the hands of the Commission for Relief in Belgium at the end of the war consisted of two categories. Unexpended balances of funds advanced by various governments and which were repaid to these governments. Balances from other sources were due to the voluntary character of the Commission: the free service of the direction, the distribution by volunteers, and the many charitable discounts granted by shipping, railway, insurance and commercial firms.

As a result prices of food in Belgium had been kept at 15 to 20% lower than in the neighboring countries. The balances from other than governmental sources were as follows: First, a small profit was generated because of the policy of the Commission to require some partial payment from those who could afford to pay, but to donate the food to those who were unable to pay. Second, the Commission had balances of charitable funds which were not required after the Armistice of 1918. Third, because of the interference brought by the submarine war in the Atlantic and because some surplus of commodities was created, the largest part of the balance of the C.R.B. funds was accumulated, especially after the Armistice of 1918, from the liquidation outside Belgium of surplus food and equipment, and from sales of food to Belgians who could pay. Whereas the Commission earned profits of more than $100,000,000 over five years of work, most of it was expended on the care of the destitute. The balance of benevolent funds remaining in the hands of the Commission in 1920 and destined for Belgium was about 240,000,000 BEF with a war-time book value of $33,766,000.


The Belgian American Educational Foundation (1920)

On January 9, 1920, the Belgian American Educational Foundation (B.A.E.F.) was established, and incorporated on January 16, 1920 under the laws of the State of Delaware. The first meeting of the Members and Directors was held on May 3, 1920, at which time the By-laws of the Foundation were adopted. The Belgian American Educational Foundation was then incorporated under the name of C.R.B. Educational Foundation.

A note on the origin of the Foundation, appended to the Foundation’s annual report of 1920, states: “The creation of the Foundation resulted from an agreement between the Belgian Government and Mr. Hoover, Chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, as to the disposition of the balances remaining in the hands of the Commission after five years of relief work..” Indeed the establishment of the Belgian American Educational Foundation in January 1920 was an endpoint and a beginning. The Belgian American Educational Foundation became the heir of the Commission for Relief in Belgium as it rose out of a small portion of the funds remaining in the treasury of the Commission after World War I.

There was never any dispute in Hoover ‘s mind that the balances of the Commission for Relief in Belgium were the property of the Belgian people. One could only argue about the manner in which to return these funds to the Belgian public. Herbert Hoover had held informal discussions about this matter with the Belgian Government, the Comité National and other representatives of Belgium. At a meeting in August 1919 in Brussels where Mr. Herbert Hoover, the Belgian Premier Delacroix, Mr. Emile Francqui and other Ministers were present, the Premier, speaking on behalf of the Belgian Government requested that Mr. Hoover himself determine the disposition of the balances.

Mr. Hoover suggested that “no more democratic service could be rendered to the Belgian people than that these funds should be applied to the extension of education in Belgium among all classes of the population, especially among those of limited means”. He suggested that “these aims might best be accomplished by a) aiding directly the universities and the technical schools of Belgium, b) initiating such measures as would enable the sons and daughters of those without means to undertake the expenses of such higher training, c) support of institutions devoted to the advancement of child welfare, d) promotion of good will between the two nations”.

As this proposal met with the approval of the Belgians present, the representatives of the Belgian Universities joined the conference. To meet the first aim it was decided to proceed immediately with payment of 95,000,000 BEF to the Universities of Brussels, Leuven-Louvain, Ghent and Liège, as well as the School of Mines and Metallurgy at Mons and the Colonial School at Antwerp. To meet the second aim it was decided that further sums, derived from the liquidation of the relief organizations, be established in the form of a permanent foundation, the income from which should be expended to aid young Belgians to obtain university training and to aid by appropriate means the progress of science in Belgium.

The Directors of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, pursuant to aim

  • a) authorized the payment of 95 million francs to the four Universities and two technical schools, and pursuant to aim
  • b) took legal action to organize the trust that would manage the endowment funds of a single Foundation in Belgium and the United States. Following an exchange of letters and cables between Mr. Herbert Hoover representing the Commission for Relief in Belgium and Mr. Emile Francqui, representing the Belgian Ministry and the Comité National, it was decided to divide the permanent trust into two co-operating Foundations, one in America and another in Belgium. Thus, the Belgian American Educational Foundation would only be a small part of that final settlement as is clear from the famous letter of December 10, 1919 from Herbert Hoover to Léon Delacroix, the Belgian Prime Minister. To quote: “a certain percentage of funds would be used to create an American and a Belgian Foundation and part of the income of these bodies would be applied to enable young men and women without means to secure graduate education; and a certain percentage would be divided among the four universities of Belgium with smaller amounts to the Mons Technical Institute and to the Colonial School”.

The “American Foundation” was incorporated on January 16, 1920 in the State of Delaware as the C.R.B. Educational Foundation,Inc. The “Belgian Foundation” was incorporated on July 6, 1920 by Act of the Belgian Parliament as the Fondation Universitaire – Universitaire Stichting. The Belgian American Educational Foundation became also the successor of the Commission for Relief of Belgium to administer the non-governmental balances remaining in the hands of the Commission. B.A.E.F. was thus the channel for distribution of further funds to Belgian Universities and Foundations. It is important to realize that these Belgian institutions received funds over several years via two paths. Firstly, in 1920 as a direct payment from the Commission for Relief in Belgium. Secondly, after 1920 from the Belgian American Educational Foundation using assets obtained from the final liquidation of C.R.B.. As part of the distribution of C.R.B. benevolent funds, the most important part of the leftover moneys went to the Universities and institutions of higher learning of Belgium, which had suffered serious destruction during World War I. The Universities of Brussels, Ghent, Liege and Louvain each received 20,000,000 BEF ($3,800,000); the School of Mines was granted 5,000,000 BEF ($950,000) and the Colonial School 10,000,000 BEF ($1,900,000). The “Belgian Foundation”, Fondation Universitaire – Universitaire Stichting received initially about 25,000,000 BEF ($6,800,000). The “American Foundation”, the C.R.B. Educational Foundation also received initially about $7,700,000. The latter sum was further increased by $2,000,000, from other residuals of the C.R.B. in liquidation to replenish the Foundation’s treasury against further donations already planned.


The First Quarter Century (1920-1945)

The founding event of 1920 was the beginning of 75 years of glorious service to the cause set forth by Herbert Hoover. The first quarter century was characterized by the rapid development of exchange programs between the United States and Belgium and by the establishment of other Foundations through major capital gifts.

All the powers of the Corporation founded in 1920 were exercised by the Members of the Foundation who were also called Directors and divided in three classes with staggered terms. The daily governance was delegated to the Officers and an Executive committee. At the first meeting of the Members and Directors of May 3, 1920 the following Officers were elected: Herbert Hoover, Chairman and President; William B. Poland, Vice-President; Gates W. Mc.Garrah, Treasurer; Edgar Rickard, Comptroller and Secretary; Perrin Galpin, Assistant Secretary. There was also a Honorary President, Emile Francqui and a Vice-President, William B. Poland.

The idea of exchange fellowships between the United States and Belgium had been considered by members of the C.R.B. and by prominent Belgians during the war. After the armistice a temporary Fellowship Committee of the Commission for relief in Belgium set forth plans for the exchange. The Universities of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, California and Stanford agreed to the plan to receive two Belgian Fellows for graduate study. The Belgian Universities and technical schools agreed to receive an equal number of Americans. There was such an unexpectedly large number of Belgians that wished to take advantage of the opportunity that after the incorporation of the Foundation, the plan for the Belgians was broadened and additional American Universities were invited to join. This was the first experience for the Foundation of the asymmetric response in Belgium and in the United States, a fact that throughout its history will lead to a preponderance of Belgian Fellows. Actually by the third year of the program (1922-23) the number of Americans was reduced because of the inability of the Americans to obtain “graduate education” in Belgium along the model of the American system.

The first fellowships offered in 1920 were 24 in number from each country, without distinction of age or sex, and carried a generous stipend of $1,000 for Belgians in the USA and of 10,000 BEF for Americans in Belgium, full coverage of enrollment and examination fees, as well as all first class travel expenses. A clear sign that Mr. Hoover was in charge was the rule that Fellows could, if they preferred, travel second class and receive the saving in cash by the difference between the cost of passage in the first and second class! The first boat to the USA included 24 Belgian Fellows, and the maiden voyage to Belgium included 22 Americans. Noteworthy is that the first boat of Belgians included one woman, and the first boat of Americans counted already five women. Among the Belgians of 1920, four studied at each Harvard and the U. California, three studied at Columbia, two each at Yale, Princeton, M.I.T., Stanford, and one each at Cornell U. Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, and the Mayo Clinic. A photograph of the boat of 1920 is reproduced. The first group included Paul van Zeeland and Charles du Bus de Warnaffe, who each were to be appointed as members of the Belgian Cabinet in 1934. Among the Americans of the first group, four hailed each from Stanford and U. California, three each from Harvard and Yale, two each from Columbia and Princeton, one each from Radcliffe, Vassar, M.I.T., and Johns Hopkins. The outstanding assortment of universities that characterized the first crop of Fellows would become the hallmark of the Foundation’s Fellowships throughout its history.

The activities of the Belgian American Educational Foundation included many expenses outside the graduate fellowship program. During 1920, the major portion of the income of B.A.E.F. was turned over to the Fondation Universitaire for its programs. In the subsequent years, eleven C.R.B. Chairs were endowed at the Universities of Brussels and Louvain , and the School of Mines at Mons in technical projects for a period of 15 years (1922-1936), as well as five Associate Fellowships. Visiting professorships in both countries were inaugurated in 1922, and Advanced fellowships in 1925. In addition a program of loans to Fellows was initiated in 1923 for purposes connected to their academic work. The Foundation gave support for the purchase of books at the Universities of Brussels and Louvain-Leuven. Special grants were given e.g. to Dr. Decroly with regard to the study of intelligence tests. In the field of child health, Belgian women teachers were selected for a year’s of study at Columbia and M.I.T.

In 1921, the Fondation Universitaire – Universitaire Stichting received from Belgian American Educational Foundation an additional 30,000,000 BEF ($2,178,844). This made the total of Fondation Universitaire grants to have combined book value of $9,000,000.

The Foundation also entered in 1922 into a contract with the Université Libre de Bruxelles to spend 15,000,000 BEF for land and buildings for the library and administration, for the housing of the Faculties of Philosophy and Law, and for dormitories for men and women students. With the intent of spurring on fundraising by the University of Brussels, the Foundation further promised to match every franc raised by two francs, and thus raised its commitment to 20,800,000 BEF.

The Foundation appointed an American, Mr. J.M. Howells as Consulting Architect to organize a competition open to Belgian architects for the plans of the buildings to be erected in the Solbosch quarter of Brussels. The cornerstone of the first building was laid on November 29, 1924 in the presence of H.R.H. Prince Leopold. The buildings were in use as of October 1929 but the formal dedication was postponed to June 23 and 24, 1930, when the new buildings of the Solbosch site at Avenue des Nations (Avenue Franklin Roosevelt) and the medical institute at Boulevard de Waterloo were officially inaugurated.

The Foundation provided money for repairs and construction of the new Library of the University of Louvain-Leuven, through an outright gift from B.A.E.F. and through a special fund-raising appeal made by Herbert Hoover in 1925. By December 1925, Mr. Herbert Hoover and Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler announced the completion of a $1,000,000 fund for the rebuilding of the Library at Louvain University. This fund included gifts of a few pennies each from half a million American school children and gifts of one dollar or more from students of practically every college, university, academy or preparatory school of the U.S.A.. The fund was completed with an outright gift of $432,500 from the Belgian American Educational Foundation, exceeding the target by $125,000, that was to be a capital allowing for the upkeep of the building.

In 1925, the Belgian American Educational Foundation decided to distribute the major portion of all its assets in Belgian francs for the benefit of the Universities of Brussels and Leuven-Louvain in the form of two definite endowments. The Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Brussels and the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Leuven-Louvain were officially recognized and approved by the Belgian Government in June 1926. These foundations engaged in the completion of the building program as well as in the general support of their university. In 1926 B.A.E.F. transferred about 34,500,000 BEF to the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Brussels and about 20,000,000 BEF to the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Leuven-Louvain. Ultimately with final grants made in 1927, the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Brussels would be the recipient of $3,451,422 and the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Leuven-Louvain would be the recipient of $1,609,848.

The Louvain Library was dedicated on July 4, 1928 in the presence of Crown Prince Leopold and Princess Astrid of Belgium, and a bronze bust of Mr. Hoover was unveiled in the Louvain Library. A clock and carillon of 48 bells in recognition of the then 48 United States were inaugurated at the same time. The clock and carillon were a gift of the Committee on War Memorial to American Engineers organized under the auspices of the United Engineering Society and affiliated engineering organizations. The Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Leuven-Louvain became also the recipient of an endowment given by the American Engineer’s Committee for the upkeep of the clock and carillon. As discussed below the B.A.E.F. would play a role a half century later in the carillon’s restoration.

The Foundation made a gift to the “Ecole Supérieure de Jeunes Filles” for the acquisition of a building in Brussels. The Foundation made a five-year grant in 1924 to the “Cercle des Alumni – Kring der Alumni” open to all persons who had received support from the Fondation Universitaire or the Belgian American Educational Foundation.

The starting capital of the Belgian American Educational Foundation in the first six years served as a conduit for further gifts in Belgium from the C.R.B. in liquidation. Because of the endowment gifts to institutions and the creation of new Foundations, it is more appropriate to take as the real starting capital of Belgian American Educational Foundation the assets that were held by this Foundation after completion in 1927 of all the mandates and transfers of the C.R.B. in liquidation. The principal assets of B.A.E.F. stood at $3,160,000 at the end of 1927.

The year 1927 is another important transition year in Belgium. Initiated by the speech of Seraing by King Albert I on October 1, 1927, a Committee was organized to foster scientific research through the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research. The Fondation Universitaire played a large part in the organization and campaign for the National Fund, and both organizations selected Mr. Jean Willems as their common director. The Fondation Universitaire and the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research would finally have in common the same President, Director, Treasurer as well as the Rectors of the Universities.

Whereas the program had started in 1920 with 24 Graduate Fellows per year, by 1927 the Belgian Fellowships were divided among 17 Graduate Fellows and 7 Advanced Fellows. After the disposition of nearly all Belgian assets of B.A.E.F., the leadership decided to curtail somewhat the fellowship program for 1928 with only 10 Graduate Fellows and 8 Advanced Fellows. This number of 10 Graduate Belgian and 8 Advanced Belgian Fellows and 3 Advanced American Fellows would remain the target for the years to follow. However, the Belgian Fellows selected each year proved to carry an extremely high promise. Among the boat of 1925 were Karel Bossart who would become famous in astronautics and the anthropologist Frans Olbrechts, and among the boat of 1926 were Gaston Eyskens and Jan-Albert Goris. The boat of 1927 carried 7 Advanced Fellows among which the future Nobel Prize of Physiology and Medicine Prof. Corneille Heymans, and the future Professors Pierre Rijlant and Richard Bruynoghe. For the year 1929-30, the 10 young Belgian Graduate Fellows included the later Nobel Prize Albert Claude, two young men who would become Minister: Baron Jean-Charles Snoy et d’Oppuers and Pierre Wigny, as well as the future Professors Zénon Bacq, Leon Elaut and Albert Lacquet. Overlapping in time with these was Marcel Florkin who obtained an extension of his 1928 fellowship.

In 1929 the Belgian American Educational Foundation decided to make an unrestricted gift of $25,000 to the projected Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine at Antwerp, and the implementation was deferred to 1931. This institute was inaugurated on November 4, 1933.

In 1932, the Belgian American Educational Foundation was the principal donor to establish a new Foundation in Belgium, the Francqui Foundation organized on February 27, 1932 in honor of Emile Francqui, the Honorary President of B.A.E.F.. For this specific purpose, the Belgian American Educational Foundation transferred in March 1932 securities valued at $1,000,000 to Fondation Universitaire, or 28% of all the capital then held by the Belgian American Educational Foundation. This was the last Foundation that would be created by the Belgian American Educational Foundation. As it was one of the main objectives of the Francqui Foundation to award a Francqui Prize to a Belgian who had made important contributions to science, it is not surprising that several of the B.A.E.F. Fellows would later become the recipient of this prestigious award.

Finally, in 1938 B.A.E.F. contributed $300,000 to Stanford University as about half the capital needed towards the erection of a building to house the Hoover Library, now known as the Hoover Institution on War Revolution and Peace. Extensive Belgian collections and records of the C.R.B. and of the Comité National are being preserved and displayed at the Hoover Institution.

A special educational initiative was the establishment of a Summer School of Art and Culture in Belgium, primarily for American students and teachers of Art in American colleges and universities, as well as members of the scientific staff of art museums. The University Summer Courses in the history of Flemish and Modern Belgian Art were given in 1937, 1938 and 1939.

In May 1938, the name of C.R.B. Educational Foundation was changed to the present name Belgian American Educational Foundation, Inc. in order to make its title more descriptive of its activities. However, the initials C.R.B. were used for a very long time as the title of the fellowships.

During the first quarter century the Foundation had its first office in the USA at 42, Broadway, New York and in Belgium at 41 Boulevard Bischoffsheim, where it had also a club house. Because the building at Boulevard Bischoffsheim was seriously damaged and rendered unfit for use in June 1931, the offices B.A.E.F. were moved to the building of the Fondation Universitaire at 11, rue d’Egmont – Egmontstraat in 1932, which is still the administrative seat of the Brussels office. The offices of the Foundation in New York were moved to 420, Lexington Avenue in the Graybar Building in January 1935.

During the invasion of Belgium in May 1940, the Brussels office continued its activities and the officers undertook to render emergency help to former Belgian fellows and Professors as well as to those organizations with which the Foundation was closely linked. A new Commission for Relief in Belgium, Inc. was incorporated on May 16, 1940, by means of a direct gift of the Foundation, to render such service as it could in Belgium. The Secretary in Belgium, Mr. Jacques van der Belen returned to the Brussels office on June 3, 1940 from his army service. The Vice-President in Belgium Mr. Tuck left Belgium on July 17, 1940. Communication of the New York office with the Brussels office ceased in December 1941.

The General Commissioner of the Belgian Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair was former Fellow Dr. Jan-Albert Goris, who would head in New York the Belgian Government Information Center for the Belgian Government in Exile. As a gesture of friendship, the Foundation purchased in June 1940 the Belgian Carillon from the Belgian Pavilion. The carillon of 35 bells was dismantled and given to Stanford University for installation in the Tower of the Hoover Institution on War Revolution and Peace in Palo Alto, California, where it was dedicated on June 20, 1941. During the war, the Foundation supported certain Belgian students who were in the United States or had found their way to the US, including on an exceptional basis some undergraduates. The Foundation’s officers were asked to look after certain funds of Belgian universities and foundations that were deposited in the U.S.. As had been the case for the preceding twenty years the Foundation continued to buy subscriptions to more than 150 scientific and learned periodicals for use in Belgium. However, during the war they were stockpiled in the U.S. and safely delivered after the war. With the end of World War II, the first era of the Foundation came to a close.

Two features characterize this glorious first Quarter Century of the Foundation. Firstly, the Belgian American Educational Foundation was initially the principal financial beneficiary and residual legatee of the wartime Commission for Relief in Belgium, but passed the great majority of its assets to institutions and foundations in Belgium. The capital funds of B.A.E.F. gave birth in a major part to five other endowments, Fondation Universitaire, Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Brussels, Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Leuven-Louvain, Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, and Francqui Foundation. Secondly, the Belgian American Educational Foundation enacted in each country a vigorous program of fellowships from which an intellectual elite would soon rise. By the start of World War I, nearly a quarter of the members of the teaching or research staffs of the four Belgian Universities had studied or traveled in the U.S.A. with the support of the Foundation. Throughout the first Quarter Century there was no restriction on the subjects of study for either Belgians or Americans. However, the Americans largely concentrated on the study of history, literature and philosophy, whereas the Belgians have been strong in the medical, applied sciences and social sciences, particularly economics. On the financial side, in every year of the period 1920-1945, income of the Foundation exceeded expenses.


The Second Quarter Century (1946-1971)

The second 25 years of the Belgian American Foundation open on a bleak financial picture. The investments of the Foundation had been nearly entirely in bonds from 1920 until 1933. With many bonds defaulting during the Depression, the Finance Committee of Foundation voted in December 1933 to diversify the portfolio and to include common stocks not to exceed 25% of the holdings of the Foundation. The percentage of common and preferred stocks was further increased to approach about two-thirds of the portfolio by 1940. Nevertheless, the stock market reached its low in 1942, and near the end of World War II the financial means of the Foundation were substantially reduced to about $1,900,000 in 1943, although income still exceeded expenses. From 1946 onward there would be regular overdrafts and all financial reports of this quarter century were in red ink, as expenses continue to exceed income.

After the Liberation of 1944, communication between the New York and Brussels office were reestablished. The President of Fondation Universitaire Félicien Cattier, the Rectors of the four universities and the Director of Fondation Universitaire addressed the following letter to Herbert Hoover, the principal part of which reads as follows:

“It is with unspeakable joy that we grasp this opportunity of addressing you this first message of warm friendship, after the liberation of our Territory for which so many of your Country’s sons have gallantly laid down their lives, with a spirit of self-sacrifice that fills us with admiration and gratitude.
We closely associate to yourself, in the expression of loyalty, all your colleagues of the Belgian American Educational Foundation’s executive committee, and in particular, Messrs. Edgar Rickard and Perrin C. Galpin.
Already has come to our ears, the echo of the care and sympathy you have bestowed upon our Nationals whom events have compelled to seek refuge in your great Country.
Those who remained in Belgium , to uphold and defend against the invader the rights and interests of the Academic Institutions entrusted to them, hasten to express to you their heartfelt gratitude.
The actual war has revived the memory of the incomparable services which the Commission for Relief in Belgium rendered to our country during the 1914-18 period. More than ever do we appreciate and value the bonds which have thus arisen between us, and we eagerly look forward to resume our future collaboration.
In expressing this wish, we not only voice the feeling of our many colleagues closely associated to our activities, but we are also the spokesmen of all Foundation’s Alumni.
With our sincerest wishes for a speedy and crushing Allied victory we address you dear President Hoover, the renewed expression of our deepest attachment”.

signed, Félicien Cattier, President of the Fondation Universitaire,
Leon Graulich, Rector Liege University,
M. Frans van den Dungen, Rector Brussels University,
Mgr. H.Van Waeyenbergh, Rector Louvain University,
R. Goubau, Rector Ghent University,
Jean Willems, Director Fondation Universitaire

As part of the return to normal life in Belgium, the Foundation invited the Rectors of the four Belgian universities to come to the United States in May and June 1946. They traveled as a group and visited important US universities. For three of the rectors Professor Jacques Cox, Rector of the University of Brussels, Professor Edgard Blancquaert, Rector of the University of Ghent, and Mgr. Honoré Van Waeyenbergh, Rector of the University of Leuven-Louvain , it was their first visit to the United States. The Rector of the University of Liège was Jules Duesberg, former B.A.E.F. Fellow 1931. A photograph of this important Delegation of Rectors is reproduced.

The visit to the U.S.A. of the rectors of the four belgian universities in 1946.
From left to right: J. Cox, H. van Waeyenbergh, E. Blancquaert, J. Duesberg

The Foundation lost no time in giving scholars and scientists the opportunity to become acquainted or re-acquainted with members of their profession in the US. A group of individuals traveling independently came as C.R.B. Visiting Scientists, as part of a Belgian Scientific Mission to the United States between 1946 and 1951. Thus, the Foundation endeavored to assist Belgian higher education and scientific research in the aftermath of the war.

Resumption of a full program for Belgian and American Fellows came with the academic year 1946-47. In subsequent years the number of Belgian Fellows was increased and that of the American Fellows proportionately decreased. The Summer Courses in the History of Art were restored in 1949 and continued in 1950. In 1951 this initiative was raised to a more advanced level and renamed the “Brussels Art Seminar” under the general direction of Professor Paul Coremans and Mr. Jacques van der Belen, and the immediate direction of Herman Liebaers, as Assistant Secretary of the Foundation. This was a most propitious change, as these Art Seminars in Brussels and Antwerp between 1951 and 1956 attracted many very qualified participants who would become leaders in the museum and art history education circles of the United States. After Herman Liebaers became Head Librarian of the Royal Library in Brussels in 1956, the Art Seminar was suspended.

Before World War II, a few Americans had paid a visit to the Belgian Congo under the auspices of the Foundation. After 1945 the Foundation was urged to consider sending American Fellows to the Congo as a regular program. Starting in 1948, American Fellowships to the Belgian Congo were included for three to ten months of study in Central Africa. In 1956 a special program of fellowships was announced for Belgian university students resident in Belgian Congo or professionally engaged there, to make study trips to the United States. The program increased its numbers up to the independence of Congo-Zaire in 1960 and lasted until 1962.

As the Fulbright Program was being organized in the post-war period, the B.A.E.F. assisted in that program’s exchange between the United States and Belgium. Thus, Perrin C. Galpin, President of B.A.E.F., served on the Selection Committee in New York recommending American graduate students for study abroad under Fulbright awards. In Belgium, the B.A.E.F. Secretary in Belgium, Mr. Jacques van der Belen acted as the Executive Officer of the Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States, Belgium and Luxemburg for the first year and remained the Educational Advisor and on the Board of the Commission thereafter. Needless to add that the building of Fondation Universitaire at 11, Egmontstreet was the first administrative seat of the Fulbright Commission.

In the face of declining B.A.E.F. resources, the first reverse flow of funds among the sister Foundations of B.A.E.F. occurred in 1956. The Francqui Foundation donated annually $8,000 and later $10,000 to B.A.E.F. in order to permit two Belgian B.A.E.F. Fellows to be brought to the United States, under the designation of Edgar Rickard Fellow and Millard Shaler Fellow. These two men were early officers of B.A.E.F. Moreover, Millard K. Shaler and William Hallam Tuck were the first Representatives of B.A.E.F. in Belgium, before they each became Vice-President in Belgium. Their annual salary check of 1921 for one dollar and signed by Herbert Hoover is reproduced.

The second President of the Foundation, Edgar Rickard (see the series of photographs of B.A.E.F. Presidents), died on January 11, 1951. He was with Hoover in London in the Commission for Relief of Belgium, then B.A.E.F. Vice-President from 1922 to 1933, President from 1933 to 1941, B.A.E.F. Chairman from 1941 to 1951. The Honorary Chairman Herbert Hoover resumed the Chair following the death of Mr. Rickard. It is of interest that the most recent B.A.E.F. President (1977- ) held a “Edgar Rickard Fellowship” while being a B.A.E.F. Fellow in 1964.

The third President of the Foundation Perrin C. Galpin was an original incorporator of the Foundation in 1923. He was its Corporate Secretary (1923-1947), Vice-President (1936-1941), President (1941-1962) and Chairman (1962-1963). The fourth President of the Foundation was E. Clark Stillman, who was Secretary (1947-1963) and President (1962-1963). Both Perrin Galpin and Clark Stillman gave considerably of their time and experience to the many Belgian Fellows who studied in the US during that period.

At the time of the World’s Fair of 1958 in Brussels , the “Chief” and Founder of C.R.B, the first President of B.A.E.F., Herbert Hoover went to Belgium and was received by the Royal Family. As a special representative of President Eisenhower, Mr. Hoover participated in official activities at the American Pavilion on July 4th. The next day July 5, 1958 was proclaimed “Hoover Day” by the Belgian Government. A meeting of reminiscence was held at the main office of the Société Générale de Belgique, where many meetings of the Comité National and of the Commission of Relief in Belgium had been held forty years earlier. The meeting was closed with a memorable speech by Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens, B.A.E.F. Fellow 1926-28. Mr. Eyskens closed his heartfelt tribute as follows:

“We are proud to have here among us again this man who symbolized the greatness, the generosity, the devotion to peace of the American people; a man who has lived history and has made history; a man who has constantly striven for better understanding among all nations of the world; a man who is dear to the hearts of us all.”

It would be the last visit of Herbert Hoover to Belgium. “The Chief” died in 1964.

In response to a request made in September 1962 by Mr. William B. Anderson, President of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation, Inc. of West Branch, Iowa , the Executive Committee voted to make a contribution of $900,000 to enable the Birthplace Foundation to build an annex or extension of the Presidential Library which had been dedicated on August 10, 1962. This special expenditure of capital was approved by the Executive Committee at a time when the Foundation had already been experiencing regular annual budgetary deficits. Indeed, the financial statements during the second quarter of the Foundation’s history show that functional expenses exceeded income for every single year from 1946 to 1972. The Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation gift proved to be controversial with some Members and among Alumni. The resignations of E. Clark Stillman as President and of Perrin C. Galpin as Chairman followed in short order in June and July 1963. On July 9, 1963, Mr. Maurice Pate was elected President. Mr. Clare M. Torrey would become President in March 1964. A lawsuit against the Foundation was filed in May 1964 stating that the gift to the Herbert Hoover Birthplace had been illegal.. The litigation lasted from May 1964 until November 1970. At the end of the dispute the gift of $900,000 remained with the recipient and litigation costs constituted an added expense for the Foundation of $465,000 between 1964 and 1972. Against a background of claims and disclaimers of planned or impending liquidation, amidst extensive press coverage of the controversy, the Fellowship program continued albeit at a tremendous cost to the assets of the Foundation. All parties, the plaintiffs and the many Alumni of the Foundation opposing the gift, the defendants among the Executive Committee and Directors, learned from this calamitous episode. Were it not for a drastic reorganization in a spirit of reconciliation, the Foundation could not have survived. On November 17, 1970 a summary judgment in the matter of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace gift was granted to the defendants, effectively closing the second Quarter Century of the Belgian American Educational Foundation, Inc.


The Third Quarter Century (1971-1995): growth of a bi-national Foundation

The third quarter century of the Foundation would be a radical departure from the past at two vital levels, that of governance and of financing. The crisis of the sixties had exposed major failures of the Foundation in serving adequately its de facto constituency and in securing its financial basis.

From 1920 until 1971 the governance of the Foundation was vested in a large body of Directors who were also the Members of the Foundation. These would meet at an Annual Meeting and elect the Officers. For the daily supervision, an Executive Committee of 7 to 10 Members effectively ran the Foundation. It was decided to modify the Certificate of Incorporation and the By-laws of the Foundation. The principal provisions of the new constitution were that the former Members and Directors would be Members only and participating in the business of the Annual Meeting, that a Board of Directors would be chosen by the Membership and include at least six Belgians, and finally that future large gifts should be authorized by the Membership, not by an Executive Committee.

Following the Reorganization of the By-Laws in 1971, the Executive Committee of 10 Members was replaced by a Board of Directors of 15, at least 6 of which should be Belgian by birth or nationality. On December 14, 1971 the following six were elected to the Board of Directors with the designation “Belgium”: Emile L. Boulpaep, Gaston Deurinck, Daniel Janssen, Hugo Uyterhoeven, and Luc Wauters, as well as Jean Cattier who was already “Member and Director” by the pre-1971 definition. Mr. Léon Fraikin, a former Belgian B.A.E.F. Fellow was already on the Executive Committee since December 13, 1966 and also before 1966 had been a “Member and Director” by the pre-1971 definition. On the new Board of Directors of December 14, 1971, Mr. Léon Fraikin was designated as ” Canada “. The other 8 Members of the Board of Directors were designated as “United States”. Among the 1995 Members of the Board, three remain of those who entered the Board as “Belgians” at the time of the reorganization of 1971: Emile L. Boulpaep, Baron Daniel Janssen, and Baron Luc Wauters. Among the 1995 Members of the Board, two remain who were former members of the Executive Committee before 1971: Messrs. Sherman Gray and Edward H. Tuck.

In October 1973, the Board of Directors resolved that the Members of the Foundation be increased to a maximum of 250 and divided in three classes. Class A includes Alumni of the Foundation; Class B Members (who may or may not be Fellows) are designated at large and include all those elected before 1974; Class C Members are honorary members. The Corporation counted 148 Members at the end of 1995.

As noted above, Herbert Hoover had originally proposed a single foundation of Americans and Belgians, but following an exchange of letters and cables in 1919, it was later decided to divide the permanent trust into two co-operating Foundations, one in America (B.A.E.F.) and another in Belgium (Fondation Universitaire-Universitaire Stichting). In retrospect, this choice was instrumental in allowing the Belgian American Educational Foundation to evolve into an entirely American composition of its governing bodies, the Executive Committee and the Officers. At the start of the third quarter century the Belgian American Educational Foundation acquired a genuine binational governance, as its name implies. The new constitution was the impetus for a new era of tremendous growth in scope and reach for the Foundation.

The second important departure from the previous quarter century was the restoration of the financial health of the Foundation after the reorganization of 1971. For the first half-century of the Foundation’s history no solicitation of funds was attempted. As shown in Figure 1, the capital of the Foundation declined rapidly from a value of $7,300,000 at the end of 1921 as a result of endowing the several Foundations created by B.A.E.F. in Belgium in the aftermath of the war. However, if one takes as a reference the total assets of the Foundation of about $3,750,000 at the end of 1927 and one considers the total assets at the end of the fiscal year 1971 of only $3,800,000, it is apparent that no provisions were made for nearly a half century of inflation. Expenses exceeded income throughout the second quarter century, as shown in Figure 2. Moreover, administrative expenses constituted an average of 50% of total expenses in the 26 fiscal years between 1946 and 1971. At the time of the controversial gift to the Hoover Birthplace Foundation, B.A.E.F. had six full-time employees in New York and compensated three employees in Belgium. In order to avoid extinction of the fellowship programs and of the organization itself in the years ahead, draconian measures would be needed.

On June 30, 1972, Mr. Clare Torrey resigned and Mr. Léon Fraikin became President. Mr. Fraikin, a B.A.E.F. Fellow 1930, resided in Canada as Executive Officer of a Belgian Corporation, that also kept a corporate office in New York. In an attempt to balance the budget, a large fraction of the capital of B.A.E.F. was invested in fixed-income securities. In addition, Mr. Léon Fraikin launched a fund-raising campaign among Belgian corporations and American corporations with operations in Belgium. On March 14, 1973, the Board of Directors decided to formally open a branch office of the B.A.E.F. in Belgium at 11, Egmontstreet in Brussels. It was further decided to publish in the Belgian State Gazette a translation of the Certificate of Incorporation and the By-laws of B.A.E.F., as the legal framework for the operations of the Foundation in Belgium. Through the personal efforts of Mr. Fraikin the campaign was a splendid success. Pursuant to gift pledges obtained for three or five years, B.A.E.F. income exceeded expenses in the years 1973 to 1975 for the first time since 1945. Concurrently, a vigorous program of fellowships was maintained.
On January 26, 1977, Mr. Léon Fraikin retired as President and Member of the Board of Directors, when he was succeeded as President by Dr. Emile L. Boulpaep, Belgian B.A.E.F. Fellow 1964, and a Professor at Yale University. On that date, the office of Chairman of the Board was re-instated and Mr. Gaston Deurinck held that position from 1977 to 1988, at which time Emile L. Boulpaep became also Chairman of the Board.

Under the stewardship of Prof. Boulpaep, several measures were taken that would lead to the evolution of the last twenty years as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Total assets of the Belgian American Educational Foundation rose eight-fold from $3,352,000 in 1976 to $25,222,000 in 1995. Income from public support, grants and portfolio revenues, not including any realized or unrealized gains, increased from $311,055 in 1976 to $2,282,264 in 1995. Total functional expenses were boosted from $325,230 in 1976 to $1,613,955 in 1995. Over the third quarter century of the Foundation, management and fundraising expenses that were 72.4% of total expense in 1971 have fallen in 1995 to 10% of total expenses or to 7% of total income.

The growth of assets and income of the last two decades was achieved, firstly, by eliminating staff positions and by reducing rental expenses. The New York office of B.A.E.F. in Suite #2017 at 420 Lexington Avenue was closed in 1982 and the headquarters of the Foundation were relocated to New Haven, CT, where the President personally administers the office. The Foundation does not keep any full-time employees anymore. Investment management, accounting, auditing, and some program management services are all delivered on a fee-for-service basis. Secondly, mindful of the example set by Herbert Hoover and his associates of the C.R.B., all Officers, the President, Treasurer and Secretary serve the Foundation pro bono. Thirdly, intensive fundraising was initiated among Alumni and corporations on an annual basis.

Fourth, a system of eponymous fellowships was designed for individuals, organizations or foundations to subscribe to a Graduate or Postdoctoral B.A.E.F. Fellowship, carrying their name. The funding modes for these eponymous B.A.E.F. fellowships are described below.

Fifth, a system of Patron Companies was inaugurated with the assistance of Count Charles Ullens to alert a group of Companies of the outstanding services provided by the Foundation in the training of future business leaders. Patron Companies have committed to make a gift to the Foundation to provide a new B.A.E.F. Fellowship, each time the Patron Company recruits a B.A.E.F. Fellow upon return from the U.S.

Sixth, the investment policy of the Foundation was modified to commit again a major fraction of the Foundation’s assets to common stocks. Mr. Thomas A. Famigletti became the investment manager of the Foundation’s portfolio in 1978. Between 1978 and 1995 average total return on the Foundation’s investment has been 15.2% per annum.

As financial health of the Foundation was achieved, there was also a substantial growth of the fellowship programs. The provisions of the fellowships were made more generous. Since 1976, the stipend for Belgian B.A.E.F. Fellows increased from $5,000 to $10,000 per academic year, and for American B.A.E.F. Fellows rose from $6,000 to $12,000 per academic year in 1995. Tuition expenses, that had a ceiling of $4,000/year in 1976, were paid in 1995 at an average cost to the Foundation exceeding $20,000 per academic year. Thus, fellowship expenses rose from $186,343 in 1977 to $1,451,431 in 1995.

The funding of B.A.E.F. eponymous fellowships ranges from $15,000.00 to $20,000.00 per fellowship. The B.A.E.F. assumes the balance of the cost of these eponymous fellowships from portfolio income. Sources of support for eponymous fellowships in 1995 was secured from:

1. Endowments held by B.A.E.F.

One “Fernand Collin – Luc Wauters Fellowship” restricted to a student of the University of Antwerpen , in the fields of Applied Economic Sciences, Law, or Political and Social Sciences.

One “Philips Fellowship” restricted to a student of the University of Antwerpen, in the fields of Exact Sciences, Biomedical or Cognitive Sciences.

2. Trust not held by B.A.E.F., but with income restricted to a B.A.E.F. Fellowship.

One “Albert and Evelyn Ferry Jadot Charitable Trust Fellowship” from the Albert and Evelyn Ferry Jadot Charitable Trust, restricted to a mechanical engineer of Belgian citizenship and of the French Community to engage in postgraduate study in the United States, pursuing either a master’s or doctoral degree.

3. Unrestricted Annual Donations for Graduate Fellowships.

Eight “Fondation Francqui – Francqui Fonds Fellowships” from the Fondation Francqui – Francqui Fonds.

4. Restricted Annual Donations for Graduate Fellowships.

Five “Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Brussels Fellowships”from the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Brussels , restricted to students of U.L.B. and/or V.U.B.

Two “David and Alice van Buuren Foundation Fellowships” from the David and Alice van Buuren Foundation and van Itallie Foundation, restricted to students of U.L.B. and/or V.U.B.

Two “H. Van Waeyenbergh Fellowships” from the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Louvain and the University of Leuven, restricted to students of the K.U.Leuven.

Two “Firmin van Brée Fellowships” from the Hoover Foundation for the Development of the University of Louvain and the University of Leuven, restricted to students of the U.C.L..

5. Restricted Annual Donations for Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Six “D. Collen Research Foundation, vzw Fellowships” from the D. Collen Research Foundation, vzw, granted as supplements to B.A.E.F. fellowships, and restricted to postdoctoral fellows in biomedical and biotechnology research. 

6. Restricted Donation Every Two Years for a Graduate Fellowship.

One “De Bandt, Van Hecke & Lagae Fellowship” from the Partners of De Bandt, Van Hecke & Lagae, who were B.A.E.F. Fellows, and from the Firm Bandt, Van Hecke & Lagae, awarded every other year, restricted to a Belgian alumnus of the law school of one of the Belgian universities, who plans to study for one year at a law school of a university in the US.

7. Unrestricted Cumulative Donations for M.B.A. Fellowships.

A variable number of “Corporate Fellowships” assigned to M.B.A. students, granted in recognition of Patron Companies who have made 4 annual contributions.

Funding for the Belgian Graduate Fellows, outside the eponymous fellowships, is derived largely from gifts by Alumni, private, public and corporate sources.

In 1986, the B.A.E.F. initiated, in addition to the Fellowships in outright gift, a program of Conditional Grants, restricted to Belgian students studying Business Administration in the United States. These are interest-free loans of up to $60,000.00 for two years of study, covering the same annual expenses as those for the Fellowships in outright gift.

In 1986, the B.A.E.F. initiated, in addition to the Graduate Fellowships, Postdoctoral Fellowships, that provide a stipend and health insurance to young Belgian graduates who wish to perform research for one academic year at an American institution. Because these Fellows are not candidates for a degree, the fellowship does not cover any tuition expenses. In particular the fellowships jointly awarded with the D. Collen Research Foundation, vzw are restricted to postdoctoral fellows in biomedical and biotechnology research.

In 1990, the Board of Directors of B.A.E.F. wished to increase the number of awards to Americans who will participate in the scientific life of Belgium. For this purpose, Belgian Universities were invited to nominate professors, scientists or scholars as Senior B.A.E.F. Fellows. The initiative is intended as an incentive for U.S. professors on sabbatical leave to spend a period of one or two semesters with colleagues at Belgian Universities. These Senior B.A.E.F. Fellows carry the title of “B.A.E.F. Visiting Professor”, or “B.A.E.F. Visiting Scientist”, or “B.A.E.F. Visiting Scholar.”

The Senior Fellows are in addition to the regular American Graduate Fellows that were increased from 6 fellowships in 1977 to 10 in 1991.

The success story of the last quarter century is vested on three basic principles.

Firstly, in the matter of governance, the benevolent work of Officers, Members and Alumni has served the Foundation splendidly.

Secondly, in the area of financial management, a lean administration, innovative fundraising and prudent investment have acted in concert to provide generously for the present needs and to endow for the future.

Thirdly, in terms of programs, constant adaptation to change through new awards, upgrading of existing awards, and striving for excellence have produced a genuine intellectual elite of Alumni.


Special Programs (since 1979)

Outside the fellowship programs addressed to individuals, the Belgian American Educational Foundation (B.A.E.F.) has also given institutional assistance during the last 27 years through Special Programs. Funding for the Special Programs is entirely derived from outside sources.

In April 1979 the Board approved that B.A.E.F. would lend its support towards raising funds for the creation of a “Belgian Room” at International House in New York City, resulting in a donation of $8,000. A second room was established as the “Solvay Room” at International House between 1989 and 1990, through a donation of $15,000.

In 1990 the Foundation assisted in the Belgian fundraising campaign for the Centennial Celebration of Dwight Eisenhower and during 1992-95.

The B.A.E.F. assisted in the campaign for the new Museum of Modern Art in Brussels and in the 1995-1996 fundraising by the Friends of the van Buuren Museum in Brussels.

In 1987-1988, the B.A.E.F. sponsored in part the production of a movie about the Belgian painter Jan Cox, a long-time teacher at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

During 1991-95 the B.A.E.F. gave support to the European Foundation Center in Brussels and the Foundation Center in New York.

During the years 1992-2006, B.A.E.F. assisted in the fundraising for the scientific research programs of the two Universities of Brussels (U.L.B. and V.U.B.).

During 2004-2006, B.A.E.F. assisted in the fundraising for the scientific research programs of the University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven).

In 2006, B.A.E.F. cosponsors with the U.S. Embassy in Brussels the event “Remembering Herbert Hoover” celebrating the work of Herbert Hoover during World War I.