East-West Center Oral History Project: Everett Kleinjans

Everett Kleinjans

Everett (Ets) Kleinjans came to the Center in 1967 as deputy chancellor of academic affairs under Chancellor Howard Jones. He served as EWC Chancellor from 1968-74, President from 1975-1980, and Honorary Research Scholar until his retirement in 1981.  Kleinjans is a linguist and taught in pre-communist China and in Japan where he served as Dean and Academic Vice-President at the International Christian University  before joining EWC. Under his leadership, EWC developed problem-oriented institutes that brought researchers together to work on Communications, Culture Learning, Food, Population, and Technology and Development.  In 1975, he steered EWC through the incorporation process that separated EWC from the University of Hawai’i: a period fraught with political, social, and emotional tension and documented in his monograph, The Search for Understanding (1981).  In 2006, Kleinjans returned to the U.S. after 12 years of living and working in Cambodia.

Read Kleinjans' interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life Before EWC - World War II Years - Interest in China - Teaching in China - Teaching in Japan -  Decision to Return to U.S.
  • Life at EWC - Arrival at EWC, 1967 - Promotion to EWC Chancellor
  • Institutional Transitions - Reorganizing the EWC/Institutes - Separation from UH - Growing the EWC Budget - Leaving the EWC
  • EWC Mission
  • Life After EWC - Teaching at Hawai‘i Pacific University - Years in Cambodia
  • EWC’s Impact


Interview Quotes

"And of course, the way the -- the way the legislation was stated impressed me:  'To promote better relations and understanding between Americans and the people of Asia and the Pacific through cooperative research, study and training.'  And I thought, that's what real education is all about, and what international education is all about. "


"I wanted institutes where people would go, work together, ask questions that nobody had an answer to. ... and when you get out of it, you may disagree, but you know why you disagree, and all the rest of this because you've done it -- if you want to use the word, scientifically. Your disagreements pull you together!"


"If you're a leader, you must be a servant.  And you serve people by leading them. And the big thing that you have to do is show direction, that's one thing, and then give encouragement and say, "Look, if we all move in that direction, which we've now talked about and agreed on, I'm here to help you, to serve you."  


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.