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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Life Before Guilford: Kyle and Erin Dell

Kyle, now associate professor of political science and co-coordinator of the environmental studies program at Guilford, and Erin, assistant academic dean, pose outside of Hege Library. (Kacey Minnick/)

College relationships all end at graduation. Once you get that diploma, the “college” part of the relationship is over, even if the “relationship” part stays strong — unless, that is, you stay in college.

Although they are no longer students, Kyle and Erin Dell have maintained their college relationship since they met at Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Mich. Kyle, an associate professor of political science and co-coordinator of the environmental studies program, and Erin, an assistant academic dean, shared the details of their romantic comedy before — and since — coming to Guilford.

Erin, a Quaker, chose Kalamazoo because of its study abroad program. An English and Spanish major, Erin said that when she thinks about college, she remembers always having a book in her hand.

According to Kyle, his family has connections to education as a profession.

“I always thought of (teaching) as the family business,” Kyle said. “But the older I got, I thought about it, and I was like, ‘I hate the family business.’ I wanted to go and be a big-time lawyer … because I didn’t want to be a poor teacher.”

After a well-loved professor had a stroke and stopped teaching, however, Kyle reconsidered his priorities.

“It really influenced me to think about what was important and what I really respected about people,” Kyle said. “And suddenly, the superficial parts of a lawyer’s lifestyle that I thought I wanted were not what I wanted anymore.”

The romance began when Kyle transferred to Kalamazoo and the two were introduced by a mutual friend.

“I forget how I knew that (Kyle’s) roommate, Chris, was living in the dorm —” Erin said.

“You were a social butterfly,” Kyle said. “You were flitting around the dorm.”

“That is not true,” Erin said. “Don’t say that, it makes me sound like I’m an airhead. Anyway, so I walked in and I was talking to Chris, and Chris said, ‘You need to meet my roommate Kyle.’ And Kyle turned around and said, ‘Hi, nice to meet you,’ and I was starstruck.”

The two were close friends throughout their sophomore year at Kalamazoo. Taking day trips, ringing the tower bells at Kalamazoo, and studying in Washington, D.C. together solidified Kyle and Erin’s romance.

According to Kyle, while working on Capitol Hill, staffers in Kyle’s office would sometimes call Erin the “pinko commie girlfriend” while Erin’s office referred to Kyle as the “fascist boyfriend.” Political divides didn’t stop Kyle and Erin from getting engaged their senior year at Kalamazoo and marrying a year later.

“Some people really give us a hard time that we got married so young,” Erin said. “There’s that ‘how did you know that you wanted to be with someone when you were 19?’ thing. My parents both said, ‘you’re kind of young to know what you want for the rest of your life.’ And I said, ‘I know what I want.'”

After college, the two moved to Boston for graduate school. Kyle studied at Boston College and Erin studied at Harvard University, where she also worked placing Fulbright students in graduate schools. The couple’s two children, Sam and Phoebe, were born during the Dells’ 10 years in Boston.

“And then we moved here, and it was very serendipitous,” Erin said. “Kyle and I wanted to be in a place that reminded us of what we had (at Kalamazoo), and to be able to be on the other side of that and to give back is really meaningful.” 

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