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Greg Caldwell

Associate Dean of Students and Director of International Students and Scholars

Years of Service:  35

Joining Lewis & Clark: After serving in the Peace Corps in South Korea and completing my master’s degree in English as a second language at the University of Hawai‘i, I was looking for a teaching position. I had three job offers: one in Iran, another in Kuwait, and one at Lewis & Clark College. While I loved living abroad, I thought I needed to establish my career in the United States before venturing abroad again. I accepted the position at Lewis & Clark and arrived in January 1976. I think I made the right choice. Not too many years later, Iran was in turmoil and Kuwait was invaded. Lewis & Clark was the perfect choice for me, and I have cherished every minute of my work here.

Favorite aspect of your work: That’s easy! I love our international students and TCKs (Third Culture Kids). When they first arrive, they are so innocent, naive, and vulnerable. They are trying to be cool, trying to fit in, trying to find friends. Academically, the first year is often a shock for many of them. Then, you can see them figuring it all out. It takes a while, but somewhere during their four years, they settle in, grow up, mature, and blossom. I love watching that transformation.

Affirmation of passion for your work: Honestly, this happens on a weekly basis. Whenever I meet international alums—abroad, on the streets of Portland, or in my office—they tell me how much they appreciate something that I did for them and how I influenced them in some way. Some detail about how they stayed at my house during a vacation break or how I took them to a restaurant when they had arrived on campus late in the evening. Some have never forgotten that I stood up for them in a disciplinary hearing. Others mention that I helped them find an internship or job. Some say I encouraged them to be an RA or take a leadership position. Others remember that I lent them a ski suit or a tie. And, most of these details I don’t even remember. Some former students say that I was their mentor and that they are now international student advisors or international educators because of my example. Every time one of these students succeeds, I feel blessed and proud of the work I do.

Most memorable moment: The visit by Shelby and Gale Davis, the benefactors of the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars program, was probably my most memorable moment at Lewis & Clark. I worked so hard to make sure that they enjoyed their visit and that they understood how much Lewis & Clark appreciated their support of the Davis UWC students and program. I was involved in every little detail of the visit and urged every constituency of the campus to come to the reception, dinner, and theatre performance.

When I walked into Stamm Dining Room with the Davises, I was overwhelmed. I had never seen so many of our community turn out for an event. The enthusiasm and appreciation were palpable. Every seat was taken. Everything went perfectly. Shelby and Gale Davis left our campus knowing that Lewis & Clark has a wonderfully supportive Davis program. And, I was overwhelmed when the Davis Scholars and audience stood and applauded me for my efforts! That was so unexpected, but much appreciated.

People might not know … I’m a carpenter of sorts. I have all types of saws, compressors, nail guns, and tools. I completely remodeled my house, installing kitchen cabinets, crown molding, hardwood floors, mantels, decks, and bookcases. I learned all of this from my father. It has saved me lots of money and has been a lot of fun. I can run the wires for electrical connections, but I draw the line at hooking the wires to the electrical box.

Favorite place on campus: I enjoy the newly renovated International Students and Scholars lounge and office space. It is light, open, functional, and welcoming. Our international and multicultural students often meet with friends in the lounge, and it has become a real hub of activity.

But actually, my favorite place on campus is Watzek Library. I don’t get to spend a lot of time there, but it is a very comfortable and welcoming space. I love looking out on the original gardens from the floor-to-ceiling windows along the south side. It’s fun to enjoy a book by the fireplace in the reading room. We have also had some wonderful meetings and receptions in the Pamplin Room, a place that not everyone gets to see.

What I will miss: Every day is a different experience in the International Students and Scholars office. One day, I might come into the office with a long list of to-do items but find a student crying at my office door. Obviously, the student takes precedence, and the list has to wait. Another day, I might be greeting a delegation from a Chinese university or planning a visit by a Korean Fulbright group. I never know when a prospective student may drop in from Paris or Singapore with questions about admission, campus life, financial aid, or the curriculum. The fall semester brings welcome events, orientation, recruiting trips, and culture shock sessions. The spring semester brings the International Fair, admission decisions and financial aid awards, and a seemingly endless series of end-of-term celebrations. But no two days are ever alike, and that’s what I like most.

I’m most proud of: Our TCK (Third Culture Kid) program. We celebrate the presence of our 130 TCKs at Lewis & Clark. I started the program about 20 years ago with more enthusiasm than expertise. Now we have a TCK intern, an advisory board, TCK Thursdays, workshops, a TCK brochure, and more. At a recent professional conference our program was described as “the gold standard for TCK programs in the United States.” I couldn’t stop smiling.

I am equally proud of our Davis UWC Scholars program. Our 37 Davis UWC Scholars are some of our brightest and most talented degree-seeking international students. An unexpected benefit of the program is that currently almost half are from Africa—Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Kenya, Swaziland, and Botswana. I am amazed at the wide-ranging influence of the Davis UWC Scholars program.

What’s next: I always joke that for the first two weeks of retirement I am going to do absolutely nothing. When I get bored with that, I plan to work on remodeling projects at my home, spend time with my 90-year-old father, and travel the world visiting some of my former students. My home is just a mile from campus, so I hope to volunteer occasionally at the college. I certainly want to raise funds to endow the scholarship in my name. And, I plan to be a “Friendship Family” for a new incoming international student this fall. I’m looking forward to lots of new opportunities.

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