"I took with me to Oregon the good and the bad of my New England heritage. Chiefly the bad, it sometimes seems. To reform the world, and quickly, I mounted my horse spear in hand and rode forth in all directions at once.
"I have mentioned the belligerent orator who shouted 'I want tax reform, I want suffrage reform, I want money reform!' And the heckler who cried, 'You want chloroform.'
"I do not blame those who felt that way about me.I hope that Reed will continue to stand staunchly, and if necessary, stand alone, for whatever Reed college considered right."
Visionary. Iconoclast. Rebel. There was something about him that always seemed quintessentially Reed.
Steve Jobs was formally enrolled for just six months, starting in the fall of 1972. Short of cash, he did something unconventional--dropped out but stayed on campus, living in Westport. He spent his time auditing classes--including the famous course on calligraphy from Robert Palladino [1969-84], which would later have such profound impact on the pioneering Macintosh.
But it wasn't the number of units he took that marked him as a Reedie. It was the crystalline intensity, the obsession with ideas, the hunger for perfection.
The day was muggy, the course hilly, the start time early at 8 a.m., but none of this deterred some 300 Reedies and their neighbors from tackling the challenging 5K loop around Reed's campus on Saturday morning, September 24.
At first glance, there's something incongruous about having the inaugural Reed College 5K Odyssey kick off the centennial community day celebration. Reed and athletics are hardly synonymous, after all. Yet one needn't dig too deep into the college's history to find that, despite the purposeful absence of varsity athletics, Reedies have always cherished the healthful diversion and stress relief of sporting pursuits. There was palpable energy among the the participants--many clad in our commemorative race shirts--as we waited for the race to start.
Reed celebrated one hundred years this weekend with a gargantuan party, complete with dancers, drummers, jugglers, mad scientists, and a massive chorus reciting lines from the Iliad in Greek.
"If Portland is a great city, it owes a great debt to Reed, and I'm here to say, 'Thank you,'" declared Portland mayor Sam Adams before a raucous crowd of students, professors, staff, and alumni beneath a massive tent on the Great Lawn. "We need the spirit and the mission of Reed now more than ever--not just in Portland, but across the state and across the nation. You have made the world a better place."
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An article in the latest edition of Portland Monthly describes Reed as "America's Last Great Conservative College." And yes, the author is a Reedie.
Citing Reed's demanding requirements and classical curriculum, history major Ethan Epstein '10 makes a persuasive case that most Portland residents are looking at Reed through the wrong end of the microscope.
"As a Reedie, I long ago accepted that most Portlanders consider my alma mater a hybrid of Haight-Ashbury and Keith Richards's medicine cabinet," he writes.
Reed prides itself for eschewing the US News & World Report's college rankings and other questionable attempts to shoehorn education into an array of doubtful statistics. But here's one list we can't resist: Huffington Post's "Nerdiest Colleges," which ranks Reed at #6, after MIT, Caltech, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd, but ahead of Worcester Polytechnic and Carleton. Reed staples such as bike jousting and Nitrogen Day seem to have persuaded the reviewers of our nerd cred. Just as well they don't know we like reciting Homer in the original!
It's been several weeks, but I'm still recovering from Reunions 2011 and its glorious aftermath. Quite apart from the epic rugby match, the spectacular musical performances, and the phenomenal chance encounters, I found myself pondering anew the question that President Colin Diver posed at his centennial address. Stripped to its elements, how do you define Reed?
By Ethan Knudson '11
Ten decades of Reed were celebrated at Centennial Reunions in one-act plays rife with academic jokes, historical references, and the tumultuous emotions that permeate a return to campus.
Reedies from several decades stepped on stage in the chapel to play stressed-out seniors, hesitant freshmen, and even legendary philosophy professor Marvin Levich. In one scene, merry prankster Ken Kesey wrestles Owen, the freshman from Idaho, at an early Renn Fayre.
By Brandon Hamilton '11
No one likes to lose, and when the cost of defeat is an entire year's worth of timê, the stakes are high.
Never underestimate the power of Reedies. At a Centennial Reunions class on Thursday, June 9, I learned firsthand that all we need to create a tidal wave in our very own sports center swimming pool is two dozen Reedies and a leader with an understanding of classical physics.
Okay, perhaps "tidal" is a bit of an exaggeration of the wave's size. But it's no overstatement to say that we managed to slosh water out of both ends of the pool by doing nothing more than hopping in and out of the shallow end at the direction of Brad Wright '61. Brad gave an explanation of the physics of wave-making before the experiment began (here is an extended version of the video above, complete with full scientific explanation). I confess that between the poor acoustics of the pool deck and the anticipation of jumping in the water, most of the science to passed me by. I can tell you that coordination of the physics of the event required someone to stand at the pool's edge swinging the so-called Pendulum of Destiny, a group of four rubber duckies with a golf balls attached to their bases floating in the middle of the pool, and our willingness to hop in when the wave was at its highest point only to hop back out each time it ebbed to its lowest.
Brandon Hamilton '11
It's an ancient debate--are youth and speed a match for age and guile? At Centennial Reunions, Reedies traded eye goggles for mouth guards and lab coats for cleats to settle the question on the pitch as alumni from the eighties (the "First Fifteen") faced off against younger grads for a little post-thesis physics experiment.
By Ethan Knudson '11
Reed presidents past and present Paul Bragdon [1971-88], Steve Koblik [1992-2001], and Colin Diver [2002-] held a panel at Centennial Reunions to discuss how they surmounted immense challenges to preserve Reed College amidst financial and national turmoil (video).
By Alex Walker '12
The first lines of Homer's Iliad reverberated to the carved rafters of the chapel on Friday as Reedies of all generations were reunited in the shared experience of reliving their first Hum lecture during Centennial Reunions. However, there was a twist. On the back of the lecture handout (distributed by a beaming President Colin Diver, who marched up and down the aisles brandishing copies) was a timeline that began, not in Greece, but in Egypt. And the Homeric epic of choice for the semester was not the tale of Achilleus and his anger, but that of Odysseus and his quest to return home. As professor Wally Englert [classics 1981-] explained, the Hum syllabus has undergone some significant changes in the past year...
"We used to say 'The Greeks were strange,'" Englert noted, while discussing the inclusion of new material from other Mediterranean cultures on the reading list, "But I'm going to do something a little radical here and say: Ancient cultures were strange."
It's a cry familiar to freshmen from every decade of Reed's existence: "You're doing what? Hah! Back at Olde Reed..."
Yes, it's Olde Reed! That elusive golden age in which classes were harder, Renn Fayres were crazier, laurels were shinier, and hijinks were, er, jinkier. Olde Reed was always dead by your freshman year, unless you are telling the story, in which case it was dead by your listeners' freshman year. It was epic, it was extraordinary, and it was, in whatever indescribable fashion, better.
Ask anyone about Reed's campus and they are sure to mention the canyon. The 28-acre watershed--a critical part of the Crystal Springs Creek--is a beautiful sanctuary for observing wildlife, taking a walk, or simply gathering your thoughts. It's also, as one alumna put it, "very romantic."
Biology professor Keith Karoly agrees. "That's biology, too," he quipped during his presentation on science in the canyon, a lecture he gave June 8, as part of Centennial Reunions. The participation of the audience--alumni from the 1940s to the present--made it clear that the canyon is a central part of both Reed's and Reedies' identities.
Steven Raichlen '75 knows more about barbeque than Prometheus knew about fire. His stat sheet includes 26 books, five James Beard Awards, three IACP awards, a PBS-TV series, his own line of grilling tools, the founding of Barbeque University, a beat-down of Bobby Flay in a barbeque cook-off, a BA in French literature from Reed, and his liver has never been eaten by a raptor. Not to gloat, but another advantage over Prometheus.
"I'm not a chef," Raichlen told alumni celebrating Centennial Reunions this week. "Food, for me, has always been a window into culture."
By Brandon Hamilton '11
Several generations of activists assembled in the Chapel to trade insights, strategies, and stories as a part of Social Justice 101, one of more than 200 events being held this week to celebrate Centennial Reunions.
Speakers ranged from Peter Bergel '65, executive director of Oregon PeaceWorks, whose self-styled "graduate education" took the form of years of living in a commune, to professor Kristi Hansen '96, an agricultural economist who teaches at the University of Wyoming.
President Colin S. Diver announced today that he will retire at the end of the next academic year.
"I have loved Reed College more than any other institution for which I have worked, and I have loved being its president more than any other job I have ever held," Diver wrote in an email to the community. "But the time is approaching when I need to seek new challenges, strike out in new directions, and, yes, smell the flowers."