Ray C. Hillam
Ray C. Hillam took over the reins at the Kennedy Center in 1985. He brought a unique perspective to the role of director, thanks in part to firsthand experience with international politics and conflict.
The only Kennedy Center director who did not attend BYU as a student, Hillam received his BA in political science from the University of Utah. Hillam earned an MAfrom George Washington University and a PhD from American University. Throughout his schooling, Hillam focused primarily on international relations and Asian studies.
Though he began his teaching career at BYU in 1960, Hillam’s professional career began several years earlier, when he spent three years in the U.S. Army in Tokyo, Japan, as a research assistant in psychological warfare during the Korean War and a Chinese intelligence analyst for the CIA. In 1966 Hillam spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in Vietnam and as an advisor to the Vietnamese Political Warfare College. He received a second Fulbright in 1973, teaching for a year in Taipei, Taiwan. He also finished his teaching career as a Fulbright scholar to China in 1992, where he taught future Chinese diplomats at the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Beijing Foreign Affairs College.
Hillam has excelled in academia. He received numerous teaching awards, including the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award and the Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Award. Hillam’s administrative experience included eight years as coordinator of the IR program he started in 1963, nine years as Political Science Department chair, and director of five study abroad programs. He was well suited for his role as Kennedy Center director.
Though now an emeritus professor, Hillam remains interested in the Kennedy Center and in international studies.
What is your favorite memory from your years as director?
Aside from receiving a telegram in Hong Kong, appointing me the director of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, my most memorable moment was visiting Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi during Thanksgiving week 1989. As a representative of the center, I went with Gerrit Gong, who represented the Center for Strategic and International Affairs, and visited with Minister Dang Ngaihheim Bai, head of the North American Affairs Bureau of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and members of their Institute of Foreign Affairs “think tank.”