Cornell College Alumni Association Board of Directors

Carol Parish Compton, 1961

Carol retired in 2001 after a nearly 50-year career in higher education as a linguist, teacher, and administrator of language programs that took her to Laos, Thailand, the Philippines, and several U.S. states. The last ten years of her career were spent at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she conducted workshops for teachers on aspects of bilingual education, oversaw Southeast Asian language projects, and supervised the teaching of the Lao language.

She holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Michigan and a masters in teaching English as a foreign language from Southern Illinois University. She has held many offices in organizations related to her specialties, including serving as president of the Council of Teachers of Southeast Asian Languages.

Carol has written a book, “Courting Poetry in Laos: A Textual and Linguistic Analysis,” has contributed to and edited other books, and written scores of articles, presentations, and academic papers. She has received two Fulbright research grants, one for Laos and one for Thailand.

She joined the Peace Corps in 1963. Assigned to Thailand, she taught English to teachers, young students, and adults. In 1965, she joined International Voluntary Services in Laos, working on rural health and sanitation projects and adult basic literacy.

Carol is from Robbinsdale, Minnesota. At Cornell she majored in English with a minor in German. She worked on the Cornellian, the Royal Purple, and literary chapbooks and was in modern dance, band, a singing group, and public affairs and political clubs.

“A strong background in English, both writing and editing, has been integral to my professional life,” Carol wrote. “Cornell’s liberal arts programs also provided me a foundation for pursuing and enjoying music, literature, and the arts.” She is class agent and chaired its 50th reunion.

In retirement, Carol has remained involved with the Southeast Asian academic community as an editor, consultant, and volunteer. She was a founding director of the Center for Lao Studies in San Francisco, received the center’s outstanding achievement award, and was honored by the city for “dedication and commitment in promoting and advancing the field of Lao studies.”

Carol and her husband, J. Lin Compton, live in Madison, Wisconsin. They met in Thailand as Peace Corps volunteers. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The couple has two sons and four grandchildren.