Paul DeYoung visited the Western Wall on a trip to Jerusalem in 2013, where he toured Reed's partner institutions the Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University.
Paul DeYoung visited the Western Wall on a trip to Jerusalem in 2013, where he toured Reed's partner institutions the Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University.

Forever DeYoung

Paul DeYoung, director of international programs, retires after 43 years of service to Reed.

By Brittney Corrigan-McElroy ’94 | October 6, 2021

“It’s really been about the people,” says Paul DeYoung about his four decades at Reed. Hired by President Paul Bragdon in 1977 to provide career advising, DeYoung went on to become director of international programs, where he had a profound influence on generations of students, faculty, and staff. Along the way, he founded the highly successful International Student, Host Family, Study Abroad, and Language Scholar programs. 

Growing up in a military family, DeYoung moved frequently. He also spent time studying in Austria as a student at Stanford. These experiences helped tune him into some of the challenges international students faced at Reed. To help them adjust to life in Portland, he organized the Host Family Program, which pairs international students with local families.

In 1982, he turned his attention to study-abroad and exchange programs. Previously, if Reed students wanted to study in another country, they had to take time off from Reed—without support from the college. DeYoung felt it was important that these cultural and educational opportunities be organized and funded by the college. This would provide an opportunity for students who lacked the means to experience a year of study abroad, which can be both intellectually enriching and life changing. DeYoung traveled around the world—often in the company of faculty members—establishing more than 60 formal affiliations with academic institutions and organizations.

“I’ve never met a better ambassador for Reed College,” says Prof. Paul Silverstein [anthropology] who traveled with DeYoung. “I was always impressed by his positive spirit, infinite curiosity, and calm demeanor in the face of challenging logistical hurdles. His knowledge and insight concerning international education commanded respect wherever we went.”

DeYoung also created the Language Scholar Program, which began after a serendipitous encounter at a conference at the Institute of International Education, where he met a presenter who wanted to place a German scholar at a U.S. college, all expenses paid. Working with Prof. Ottomar Rudolf [German 1963–98] and the office of residence life, he launched the program in 1985. Other departments soon jumped on board, and for many years DeYoung oversaw all elements of running the language houses. The program now brings eight young scholars to Reed each year to enhance learning in Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, French, Russian, and German. The scholars live in the language houses and are responsible for broadening cultural understanding and diversity by participating in Reed’s curricular program.

It’s hard to overstate DeYoung’s impact on the Reed community. He developed long-lasting relationships with international students, language scholars, and host families. Tony DeYoung ’79, on whom Paul made such an impression that Tony adopted his surname, notes that “Paul was curious, engaged, never judgmental, and had a wealth of knowledge and experience. He was the kind of person you would want to see representing the best of humanity.”

Outside the office, DeYoung could often be found in the sports center or discussing matters of intellectual curiosity with professors. “I’m not sure if it’s because of his consistently sunny personal disposition, clear enjoyment of his career, or his daily dip in the Reed pool, but Paul has always been someone ready for a conversation, a coffee, or more likely, a light Belgian beer,” says Prof. Paul Gronke [political science]. “Paul was a tireless advocate for students at Reed College—not just students studying abroad, but every student, especially students coming to Reed from foreign locales and who needed help and advice adapting to the United States, to Portland, and to the sometimes difficult and demanding faculty at the college. Generations of students benefited from his commitment to assuring that Reed College welcomed students (and faculty) with open arms.”

There’s little doubt that DeYoung’s contributions to the community will be felt long after his retirement. “I look at Reed College and I think it’s a better place than it was as a result of the things I’ve been enabled to do along with the help of an amazing group of students and faculty and my administrative colleagues,” he reflects. “It’s been a thoroughly engaging experience in every possible way.”

Tags: Institutional, International, Reed History