SofiaCorradiRosaRosa Balas Torres, President of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation’s Executive Committee, and Chief Executive of External Action for the Regional Government of Extremadura, received the Gran Cruz de la Orden Civil de Alfonso X el Sabio yesterday on behalf of Italian professor, Sofia Corradi, in a ceremony presided over by the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

During the ceremony held at the Prado National Museum, 17 Gran Cruz awards were handed out by the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport. The awards represent recognition for individuals, legal bodies, and other entities from Spain or overseas, for outstanding achievements in the fields of education, science, culture, teaching, and research, or for providing outstanding services in those fields in Spain or internationally.

Sofia Corradi came up with the idea and recognised the importance of encouraging exchanges between European universities when she was just 20 years old. She also managed to convince the institutions and universities that continue to partially fund these exchanges today, and this is why she is considered the founder of the scheme, and is known as Mamma Erasmus. The work Sofia Corradi initiated in the interests of European integration has laid the foundations for other similar and very successful educational activities that go beyond the borders of Europe, such as Erasmus Mundus, and Erasmus Plus, the European Union’s current programme. Her work, and the Erasmus programme, have had a direct impact on the lives of almost 3.5 million European students, from almost 4000 universities, over the 30 years the programme has been in place. Sofia Corradi also received the Carlos V European Award from the European Academy of Yuste Foundation, in a ceremony presided over by HM the King held last May at the Royal Monastery of Yuste.

Those awarded the Gran Cruz de la Orden Civil de Alfonso X El Sabio were Jean Canavaggio, French Hispanist and Cervantes scholar; Plácido Domingo, orchestra director, producer, and composer; Jorge Edwards Valdés, Chilean writer, literary critic, journalist, and diplomat; José Antonio Escudero López, President of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation and member of the Royal Academy of History; Felipe Fernández-Armesto, British historian and professor; singer and actor María Dolores Pradera; actor Julia Gutiérrez Caba; Liz Mohn, President of the Spanish Bertelsmann Foundation; Luis del Olmo, journalist and radio presenter; José María Pérez González, “Peridis”, Spanish architect, cartoonist, humourist, and writer; Felipe Segovia Olmo (awarded posthumously), founder and President of Colegios SEK and Camilo José Cela University; Gonzalo Suárez Morilla, scriptwriter, film director, writer, journalist, and actor; philosopher Amelia Valcárcel y Bernaldo de Quirós; singer and actor Concha Velasco; politician and entrepreneur Joaquim Molins i Amat; art director Gil Parrondo y Rico-Villademoros (awarded posthumously); and Italian professor Sofia Corradi.

Orden Civil de Alfonso X El Sabio (Civil Order of Alfonso X)

His Majesty the King is Gran Maestre (Grand Master) of the Order and the awards are granted in his name, he also has the right to wear the ceremonial ‘collar’. The Gran Canciller (Grand Chancellor) of the Order is the Minister for Education, Culture, and Sport, and the Chancellor is the Department’s Assistant Secretary.