THE HOOVER EXHIBIT
COMMISSION FOR RELIEF IN
STORY OF THE FLOUR
Belgian American Educational Foundation began its long history as the
daughter of another organization: the Commission for Relief in Belgium.
Created in October 1914 by Herbert Hoover. During World War I, the CRB
distributed over 2.8 billion dollars worth of necessities of life in
Belgium and Northern France. By the end of the war, the Commission had a
surplus of some 30 million dollars.
never any dispute in Hoover's mind that the balances of the CRB were the
property of the Belgian people. The question was solely how to return
the funds to the Belgian people. With the approval of the Belgian
government, Herbert Hoover proposed to apply these funds to "the
extension of education in Belgium among all classes of the population".
This decision led eventually to the payment of over 100 million Belgian
francs to each of four universities and two technical schools. It would
also be used to create the Fondation Universitaire / Universitaire
Stichting and the CRB Educational Foundation in the United States, later
to be renamed Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF).
its first quarter century of existence, the BAEF rapidly developed
exchange programs between the United States and Belgium. The year 1920
already saw a boat of 24 Belgian fellows traveling to the United States
and a maiden voyage of 22 Americans to Belgium--all receiving full
coverage of enrollment and of travel expenses, as well as a generous
stipend. By the start of World War II, nearly a quarter of the teaching
or research staff of the four Belgian Universities had studied or
traveled in the USA with the support of the Foundation. Among the BAEF
fellows were future Nobel prize recipients Corneille Heymans and Albert
Claude, and future ministers Gaston Eyskens, Jean-Charles Snoy et
d'Oppuers, and Pierre Wigny.
the same period, the BAEF established or helped establish other
foundations through major capital gifts. It first transferred funds to
the Fondation Universitaire / Universitaire Stichting, and invested
large sums for land and buildings at the University of Brussels (now the
Solbosch campus) and for rebuilding the library at the University of
Louvain-Leuven. In 1925, it even distributed the major portion of its
assets to these two universities, thus creating the Hoover Foundation
for the Development of the University of Brussels and the Hoover
Foundation for the Development of the University of Leuven-Louvain.
in 1924, it had also made a first grant to the Cercle des Alumni / Kring
der Alumni, open to those who had received support from either the BAEF
or the Fondation Universitaire / Universitaire Stichting. In 1929, it
contributed largely to the projected Prince Leopold Institute of
Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, and in 1932, it was the principal donor to
establish the Francqui Foundation. Finally, in 1938, it contributed half
the capital needed to erect at Stanford University the Hoover Library,
now known as the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace.
second quarter century of the BAEF was characterized by financial
trouble. Because of defaulting bonds during the Depression, and because
of the impact of World War II, the financial means of the BAEF had been
reduced to 1.7 million dollars. The BAEF nevertheless resumed a full
exchange program immediately after the War, invited the Rectors of the
four Belgian Universities to visit together important universities in
the United States, and assisted the organization of the Fulbright
quarter century of the Foundation (1971-1995) would be a radical
departure from the past at two vital levels, that of governance and that
of financing. Under the terms of the new constitution, members elect a
Board of Directors, including at least six Belgians, and have their say
in approving large gifts. The first BAEF President under the new terms,
Léon Fraikin, launched the first fundraising campaign of the Foundation
and thus managed to have income exceed expenses again for the first time
since 30 years.
Boulpaep, who succeeded Léon Fraikin as BAEF President in 1977 and still
leads the Foundation today, multiplied the BAEF's total assets eightfold
over the next 20 years.
Belgian American Educational Foundation