California Colleges for International Education (CCIE) is saddened to share the passing of Dr. Donald R. Culton on April 2, 2015. Dr. Culton was the first-full-time administrator for international education at a California community college and was one of the pioneers in the field since the 1960s. He began his career as a faculty member in History at Shasta Community College and continued his teaching at Los Angeles Harbor College where he later became the Dean of Off-campus Education. In this position, in the 1970s, he initiated one of the first community college study-abroad programs in the nation to Mexico. In the next few years, Don pioneered several semester study abroad programs which later became the norm for California community colleges. Don was among the first in the nation to develop Branch campuses in Asia for community colleges, initiated wide-spread internationalizing curriculum programs, and championed unique student services for international students. Don retired as Director of International Education for the Los Angeles Community College District in 1998. In his post-retirement career, he continued to consult for colleges and universities on study abroad and international student programs. CCIE extends its deepest sympathies to Dr. Culton's family at this difficult time.
There is no question but that Don was the founder of study abroad in California community colleges. His leadership, intelligence, knowledge and willingness to share inspired the development of generations of international educators. Don loved to mentor the next generation and would freely share his time, historic memory, and stories of pioneers in the field. Don formed the non-profit consortia California Colleges for International Education (CCIE) which continues to serve community college internationalization advocacy needs today. Don fully believed in and supported the community college mission of open access. He loved the concept and outreach provided by community colleges and believed that education in general, and international education in particular, should be experienced by all students and not just the wealthy. His international educational policies celebrated open access and made international education accessible to everyone, regardless of college size or income and regardless of student standing or GPA. Throughout the decades, Don remained loyal and dedicated to his mission to provide international experiences to community college students and faculty.
Don was a maverick, a entrepreneurial pioneer, a compassionate leader, and a man of the highest integrity. Don's passion for health, safety and legal issues led him to develop the first policies and standards in the field of community college international education, including how to start a program, how to protect the college legally, how to build contracts with third party study abroad providers and lay the groundwork for the shared program construct which resulted in enhancing offerings, internationalization experiences, and of course how to reach more students. Most of these policies are still being used by community colleges throughout the country today. His belief in collaboration resulted in his bringing together like-minded voices from throughout the state, at a time, when communication was limited due to physical distance. Don was also a founding member of the Southern California Consortium on International Studies (SOCCIS), a voluntary association of public and private colleges and universities established in 1972 for the purpose of sharing resources to further international studies in the southern California region. He loved to connect international educators across institutions and across the globe with the intent to create innovative low-cost abroad opportunities for faculty and students. Finally, Don's trust in advocacy worked to change state laws, and create a context where, at one time, the community colleges were sending more students to study abroad than the UC and CSU universities combined.
For those of you who would like to write to Don's family, he is survived by his wife, Josefina, and his two sons Christian and Ryan, letters and cards can be sent to : Josefina Culton, 5701 S. Kiyot Way # 6. Playa Vista, CA. 90094.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, that donations be sent to the Dr. Donald R. Culton Fund for Advancing International Education at Community Colleges. Should you wish to make a contribution, you may send a gift to California Colleges for International Education (CCIE) with a notation indicating that it is for the Dr. Donald R. Culton Fund: Att: Thomas Torres. Peralta Community College District. 333 East Eighth St.. Oakland, CA. 94606.
Please join with me in extending our memories and sympathy to Don's family during this time of loss and remembrance.