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ACP to AUP: New Directions

When Dr Lloyd DeLamater founded the American College in Paris in 1962, his goal was to educate future leaders, equipping them with an expansive international outlook. The adventurous students who accepted this challenge were our first Global Explorers; searching for an American education abroad while benefiting from one of the most historically and culturally rich cities in the world as their campus. Today, the idea of transcending the bounds of “narrow nationalism” is every bit as vital and AUP students continue to uphold Dr DeLamater’s legacy by striving to act as responsible global citizens who are at home in the world.

The typical student had studied at least one foreign language and often was fluent in it. [They] had lived abroad for several years and already on arrival in Paris gave the impression that [they] were accustomed to adapting to life in a foreign culture. Professors got to know all students in their classes as individuals. Contacts outside class were frequent, especially at the regular events of the Cultural Program, in which most professors took part.

Dr Lloyd DeLamater, 1963 Inaugural Annual Report

Dr DeLamater’s idea was far ahead of its time. Born and raised in the New York area, he led an international life: wartime service in the merchant marines, marriage to a French woman, a doctorate in Economics from the University of Paris, an assignment in Germany to teach undergraduate courses with US government sponsorship and a commission in the IS Foreign Service with assignment to the NATO Secretariat in Paris. This assignment had him traveling frequently and widely in Cold War Europe, and it was through these trips that Dr DeLamater was quick to grasp that the world could not survive as a disparate mix of isolated countries and peoples with little connection amongst them. He sought to bridge those gaps, by creating an institution that would educate those ready to explore a world far beyond their birthplace. 

The American College in Paris opened with an entering class of just over 100 students. Dr DeLamater was the Dean, Raymond Flowers the Registrar and Walter Brennan the Director of the Cultural Program. Marie DeLamater served as the beloved Director of Housing, helping those first students get their bearings in Paris. She would later take over the Cultural Program whose creation she had inspired. The early students of ACP came primarily from families on military and government assignments or European-based “ex-pat” families, and ACP quickly became an exciting global institution. Out of town students lived with French families, in international student residences or shared apartments. Together, those enthusiastic students and their professors developed a distinct model of American higher education abroad and an ambitious program of events in and near Paris that focused on the arts, history and civilisation française. Talk of the exciting new school in Paris led to a student body of over 400 within five years. 

ACP was an urban university offering the myriad energies of a great old city. Classes were held in rooms rented in the Parish house of the American Church and the American Cathedral, which along with the US Army facility in rue Marbeuf also served as the student center and study hall. That changed with the acquisition of the Bosquet building in 1969, confirming ACP’s home in the 7ème arrondissement.

The American University of Paris has not wavered from the original premise of its founding: to help students question their comfort zone, step past accepted knowledge, meet people from all over the globe and achieve their professional aspirations.

Today, nearly 1,200 students come to AUP from 103 countries, speaking 79 languages and dialects and crossing cultural, national, ethnic, religious and linguistic boundaries in classrooms and beyond. Faculty members from 28 nations ignite thought-provoking conversations in intimate and collaborative classroom settings, where students explore a wide range of academic disciplines from a variety of perspectives.

AUP offers 26 majors – from Linguistics to Journalism to Communications, Art History, Philosophy and Statistics – and 39 minors including Renaissance Studies, Environmental Policy and Parisian Studies. Study trips, like those originally led by Marie DeLamater, and the new comprehensive Cultural Programs, still take students into immersive, contextual learning environments. In the last year, AUP professors led 36 trips in Paris, around Europe and further afield to global destinations such as Egypt, Iceland and India. After graduation, AUP alumni go on to exciting international careers as professionals and as founders of their own companies around the world.