Tribute to Marcel Boiteux - IHES
Marcel Boiteux IHES

Tribute to Marcel Boiteux

Marcel Boiteux once wrote that “IHES is a radiant home, a beehive and at the same time a monastery where profound work, long matured in calm, germinates” (Petit Mémorial de l’IHESa series of testimonials about the Institute written on the occasion of its 40th anniversary),

IHES was deeply saddened by Marcel Boiteux’s passing, on September 6.
After being a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors in the early 1980s, in the role of representative of EDF, he succeeded to Renaud de la Génière (Banque de France) as president from 1985 until 1994. During the years he led the Board of Directors, he strove to “find money”, as he used to say, from companies, but also to retain subsidies from the foreign organizations and institutes that supported IHES at the time. He also appointed two directors, Marcel Berger, in 1985, and Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, in 1994.

A mathematics graduate of Ecole Normale Supérieure, Marcel Boiteux spent his entire career at the EDF group (then Electricité de France),  which he headed from 1967 to 1987. He was the driving force behind the development of France’s nuclear power program. In addition to IHES, he has chaired or sat on the boards of several leading organizations, including Institut Pasteur, Biosphère, Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris and Fondation du Patrimoine. He was awarded the highest rank of the Légion d’honneur, the Grand Croix, and was was elected to the Académie des sciences morales et politiques in 1992.

A personal tribute from Philippe Lagayette, former president of IHES:

“I knew Marcel Boiteux well when he was at EDF, and also in connection with IHES, where he asked me to succeed him. From his original training in mathematics and mathematical economics, he retained rigorous intellectual reflexes and a rational approach to problems. This in no way prevented him from being a brilliant conversationalist and an enthusiastic man. In the exercise of his responsibilities, he acted according to his convictions, which he set out with elegance, always based on a solid intellectual foundation; even when he himself was attacked by other means, such as exploding a bomb on his doorstep…
He was very attached to IHES, which he considered to be a precious singularity in our academic system, in that it combined high quality work, total freedom for researchers, international openness and freedom of management, all by combining resources from the public sphere and private contributions. Even after leaving the presidency of the Institute, he continued to follow its activities with interest.”


Find the full testimonial written by Marcel Boiteux on the occasion of the Institute’s 40th anniversary here.