Obituary Thomas Fraser

It is with great regret that we announce the passing of the CEL/ELC’s first Honorary Secretary, Dr Thomas Fraser, who died on 24 October 2014 at his home in Royan.

Tom was born in Scotland on 20 December 1942. He held several appointments at the universities of Caen and Lille and was the director of the Unité de Formation et de la Recherche des Langues Etrangères Appliquées of Université de Lille 3. Backed by his University, he was a prime actor in the initial phase of Erasmus student mobility, which prepared him for European co-operation in the area of languages.

Tom was one of the founders of the CEL/ELC. He represented France on the SIGMA Scientific Committee on Languages (1994-5), which paved the way for the creation of the CEL/ELC, and also for a series of EU network and development projects. Initially, things were not so easy. The EU Commission was reluctant to admit Tom to the SIGMA Committee because he was a Scot – although he held a French passport. The CEL/ELC was fortunate that Tom was able to persuade his University to host the CEL/ELC launch conference in June 1997. He subsequently arranged for his University to award an honorary doctorate to the then President of the CEL/ELC, Prof. Wolfgang Mackiewicz, in 2004.

Tom proved himself to be a dedicated European. Not only was he the first CEL/ELC Secretary, but he also played a leading role in five large-scale network projects, launched from within and by the CEL/ELC – TNP1, TNP-D, TNP2, TNP3, and ENLU. He was the co-ordinator of the TNP1 sub-project on Language Studies for Students of Other Disciplines, the outcomes of which are as relevant today as they were in 1999. He also participated in the DIALANG project for the development of diagnostic tests in 14 European languages on the Internet.

On his 69th birthday, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. We are proud and grateful that, in spite of his illness, Tom attended and addressed the 2012 CEL/ELC Forum, marking the 15th anniversary of our association. Those who were there were very moved by the speech he made on that occasion - 15 years on: reflections from retirement on multilingualism and Europe.

The CEL/ELC pays tribute to Tom. He will be remembered for the contributions he made to our association and its initiatives. The CEL/ELC and its projects benefited greatly from Tom’s capacity of intercultural mediation and he will be warmly remembered for his kindness and good humour.


With 15 years of policy-making history, our association brings together committed language specialists from around the European continent and beyond to support Europe's language infrastructure, improving societal and individual multilingualism and promoting quality language learning.

Filling a unique niche in Europe's language panorama, the CEL/ELC has unique contact to universities, language institutions, the Council of Europe, and the European Commission, mediating at the various levels to envisage, anticipate and adapt to the future language landscape.

Membership in the CEL/ELC grants institutions and language specialists access to a wide variety of projects and like-minded colleagues in similar language fields, and is open to all institutions of higher education and all national and international associations with a special interest in languages. Additionally, we accept applications for associate membership for individuals.

The association's permanent secretariat is at Freie Universität Berlin (DE).

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