In memory of Edward Devlin

July 25, 2020
  • AACRAO News
  • AACRAO Staff

Former AACRAO team member Edward Devlin passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, July 12, 2020 at the age of 80. 

AACRAO is grateful for Ed’s contributions to higher education, and richer because of his groundbreaking work in international education and advocacy on behalf of two-year colleges. 

Ed was a linguist and lover of language. That’s what brought him into the world of international education.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he started his career with a BA in Language Arts from San Francisco State University (SFSU). In his first professional position, he and a wildly creative team of fellow graduate students in linguistics created what they dubbed  “The Language Factory” at SFSU, in which he served as a Senior Linguist for a Peace Corps Training Program held at SFSU. He received his MA in Language Arts: Teaching English as a Second Language from SFSU in 1967, and shortly after graduation headed to Monterey Peninsula College (MPC), a California community college, as an instructor of English and ESL.

Ed’s work at MPC made him a champion of the important role that two-year colleges play in the American higher-education journey. Through his ESL teaching he recognized that the two-year college could be an excellent and accessible starting point for international students wishing to pursue a four-year degree in the United States. While many international students know of UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Harvard, and MIT, not all of those students will be admitted directly to those competitive schools. But Ed saw the potential of the community college as an alternative pathway into four-year institutions for  international students. Through his savviness as an administrator, fellowship with colleagues, rapport with students and their parents, and love of technology,  he worked hard to share his insights with aspiring international students and the institutions who wished to have them on campus.

In California, with its huge community college system, Ed’s work in developing the relationship between the community colleges and public university systems was instrumental. As California developed its Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC), which enables prospective transfer students at California community colleges to satisfy the lower-division breadth/general education requirements for transfer admission to both the University of California and the California State University systems, Ed was front and center building MPC’s international student programming and leading groups of colleagues on international student recruiting trips. Ed always emphasized to international admissions colleagues the need to be knowledgeable about the educational systems and credentials of the countries where they recruited. His long-time friend and colleague Linda Heaney, who with Ed’s guidance launched Linden Educational Services in 1982,  commented, “Every two-year institution on the West coast owes Ed a big debt.”

Ed was also a strong writer with excellent editing skills. He wrote many articles about international education, for a variety of professional publications. He served as editor of the 1992 Projects for International Education Research (PIER) Workshop Report, The Educational System of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republics, and the editor and team co-leader of the 1992 PIER Workshop Report, The Educational System of Poland, as well as numerous other publications and reports. He was active in both AACRAO and NAFSA as a committee member, presenter, and author. Ed received Life Membership from NAFSA in 1995 when he retired from MPC. 

Although Ed made impressive and long-lasting contributions to our field, those who knew and loved Ed would surely first tell you about his huge personality and his warmth. Ed was a born storyteller, and had an uncanny ability to use accents in his stories. His jokes and stories were legendary; he loved to make his friends, family, and colleagues laugh. As so many colleagues have commented in their remembrances of Ed, whether on a long flight to Asia, in a shuttle bus to a hotel, at a committee meeting or conference dinner, in a tiny Polski Fiat taxi, or at a restaurant eating unfamiliar foods, you wanted to get the seat next to Ed Devlin, because you would laugh and learn and be drawn into his larger-than-life presence. 

If you knew Ed, you know that the most cherished part of his life was his dear “partner in crime” and soulmate Ann Koenig. Colleagues for years, Ed and Ann eventually realized that their relationship was something special. Fate may have taken its time in bringing them to each other, but once it did, the bond was unbreakable. They loved life together, and enjoyed music, baseball, crossword puzzles (done in ink!), Scrabble, cooking, eating, and time spent with friends. 

Ed and Ann were the quintessential “power couple” in international education. Their friends and colleagues called Ed the Legend, and Ann the Pillar in the field of international education. “The Pillar and Legend” – how that designation made them smile! 

We thank Ed for his warmhearted friendship and his many contributions to international education. And as Ed would say in his wonderful Irish accent: “May the Road Rise Up To Meet You….”