Prof. Darius Rejali flanked by John Perry (left) and Ken Taylor (right), hosts of NPR's "Philosophy Talk."
On Thursday, April 16, at approximately 8:35 p.m. Professor of Political Science Darius Rejali followed his GPS to an industrial zone along Macadam Avenue in southwest Portland.
Rejali traded the warmth of his SUV for the damp night air. He was wearing a silver crewneck shirt, a dark brown sports jacket, jeans, and black court shoes. Combined with his windswept hair and salt-and-pepper muttonchops, he was easily marked as an academic.
He ambled toward what looked like a glass and steel warehouse. Light radiated from within the building’s core, but it became dim as it reached the foyer, which obscured the image of the man waiting for Rejali. The doors swung open and a voice pierced the darkness, “Are you here to talk about torture?”
Students in Sequoia won the 2015 Blue Tape Art Competition with this mural of the Avengers. Gary Granger
While many college students fret about tangling with red tape, Reedies like to tangle with blue tape.
Last week Reed’s Grove Dorms held their fifth annual Blue Tape Art Competition, which gives students a chance to decorate their dorms and demonstrate their creativity—without making headaches for the maintenance crew.
Students in Sequoia won the competition with a vengeance— or rather with Marvel’s Avengers. This year’s winning mural for the theme of “Sci-Fi” was a sequence of panels depicting six of Marvel’s Avengers including the Hulk, Iron Man, and their leader, Capitan America.
A formidable array of computing brainpower converged on campus yesterday to help Reed think through a long-awaited computer science program.
The digital elders represented a full spectrum of computing expertise: mathematicians, cryptographers, AI gurus, network wizards, codeslingers, and technology innovators, all focused on a fascinating problem—how Reed can build a computer science program that dovetails with its academic mission.
Reed has a long and proud tradition of computing, but has never had a CS department or a CS major. Courses in computing are currently offered through the math department, but students’ ravenous intellectual appetite for the subject is overtaxing the department’s resources. Since 2007, the number of students enrolled in the introductory CS course has soared from 34 to 102. The college has recently created a computer science concentration in the math department and launched a Software Design Studio to give students more hands-on coding experience.
History major John Young ’15 ran the 50K Gorge Waterfalls ultra-marathon two days after turning in his thesis draft on the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.
While most Reed seniors spent their last precious hours of spring break polishing their thesis drafts, history major John Young ’15 was performing another impressive feat.
On Friday, John turned in a 100-page draft of his thesis on the yellow fever epidemic that struck Philadelphia in 1793. On Sunday, he ran a heart-stopping 50 kilometers in the Gorge Waterfalls ultra-marathon.
This wasn’t the first time John has pushed the limits of his endurance. Last year he was the youngest runner to complete the 50-mile American River Ultramarathon, and in November he finished the Portland Marathon in 3 hours 14 minutes and 19 seconds.
From John’s own account of his achievement:
Tango ensemble Astillero, led by pianist Julián Peralta, performing live with students in the Reed Orchestra.
When the soundcheck wrapped up and the doors swung open, hundreds of excited music lovers swarmed inside, packing Kaul Auditorium for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Astillero, a highly influential band on the cutting edge of Argentina’s contemporary tango vanguard, spent a week at Reed visiting classes and rehearsing with the student orchestra, culminating in a performance of Soundtrack Buenos Aires on February 20. Led by pianist Julián Peralta, the band spent the evening alternately bantering with the audience in Spanish and delivering their revolutionary original music – urgent, aggressive, and bursting with rhythmic energy. By the end of the concert, the crowd was on their feet, cheering and shouting for more.
Astillero’s visit to Reed was co-sponsored by the departments of music, Spanish, political science, the office of the dean of the faculty, and the office of institutional diversity, and was made possible by donations from Christine Green, John Clark, Elizabeth Barringer, and James Richardson Clark ’14.
The event was presented by Tango for Musicians, North America’s leading tango workshop for musicians. Led by Prof. Morgan Luker [2010-present], the workshop takes place at Reed each June and attracts musicians from across the globe. It now boasts an artistic faculty coming directly from Buenos Aires that includes some of the most outstanding tango musicians and educators active today.
Linguistics major Knar Hovakimyan ’16 will travel to Armenia to translate contemporary poetry.
Reed is proud to announce the latest winners of the President’s Summer Fellowship: eight outstanding projects that combine intellectual pursuit, imagination, adventure, personal transformation, and service to the greater good.
Inaugurated by President John R. Kroger, with generous support from trustee Dan Greenberg ’62 and his wife, Susan Steinhauser, the fellowship attracted scores of creative proposals. The winners will be awarded $5,000 each to pursue their projects during summer 2015. Here they describe their projects in their own words.
President Kroger catches Owl Fever during epic struggle in the Quad.
A furious fight erupted in the Quad Friday night as scores of students struggled for possession of the Doyle Owl, a 300-lb slab of concrete statuary that has become a monumental Reed mascot, in an exuberant mêlée that eventually engulfed President John Kroger.
As rival student factions vied for victory, Kroger dodged elbows, copies of the Iliad, and overzealous rugby players to plant a hand on this remnant of Reed’s history.
The chaos began at 7 p.m., when students discovered an owl near the Reed reactor. A frantic scrum took place as students wrestled for ownership until word filtered through that the object at the center of the mayhem was actually a decoy—one of two fakes planted to maximize confusion.
Reed students Sasha Peters and Rennie Meyers won Watson Fellowships to pursue a year of independent study after graduation. Photos by Chris Lydgate
We're thrilled to announce that two Reed seniors have won Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for purposeful, independent study outside the United States.
Environmental studies-history major Rennie Meyers ’15 won a fellowship to study the formation of artificial coral reefs and history/literature major Sasha Peters ’15 won a fellowship to explore abandoned sites and cities in the Soviet sphere through the medium of radio.
Snapshot of the class of 2014 six months after graduation, based on a study by the Center for Life Beyond Reed. The knowledge rate for the survey is 85%; in other words, the destinations of 15% of the class remain unknown.
Like wildflower seeds on the wind, the class of 2014 has dispersed to the far reaches of the globe in search of work and opportunity.
According to a survey conducted by the Center for Life Beyond Reed (CLBR) six months after graduation, of those who responded that finding a job was their primary destination, 76% had found full-time or part-time employment, 10% were in grad school, and 4% were doing service work such as AmeriCorps.
Their activities span everything from monitoring human rights in Mexico, to working in the district attorney’s office in Portland, to promoting sustainable textiles in Tibet. More than 30 are doing research of one kind or another and about two dozen are teaching or tutoring.
Dante Alighieri, author of the towering Inferno.
President John Kroger and Reed alumni gathered in Prexy last week to discuss a burning issue—Dante’s Inferno.
Balancing copies of the Divine Comedy and glasses of wine, alumni listened intently as President Kroger shared his thoughts about this 14th-century masterpiece of allegorical verse.
Like many Reedies, Kroger read the Inferno in college. (It's currently on the syllabus for Hum 210.) Recently, however, he committed some leisure time to exploring not just Inferno but its two lesser-known companions, the Purgatorio and the Paradiso.
Students gather at the RAW banquet/theme reveal Image by Jade Novarino '16
This year, Reed Arts Week (RAW), March 3–8, takes a turn for the understated and the peculiar, with the highlight of the opening exhibition being a fist-sized rock. The rock displays a smiley face on its surface, and its owner is attempting to sell it for $1 million on eBay, despite never having received a bid.
Other installations include a camera obscura inside Vollum lounge, which uses vibrations from Eliot Circle to create a subdued shadow world, and captures students walking to class in the form of indistinct silhouettes.
The Gray Campus Center features a “quiet room,” or traceless environment; the space is light and soundproof, completely cut off from the rest of campus. The intent of the room is to give students an experience of being entirely solitary, while still in the heart of campus. The sports center is home to the opposite effect, with an audio system set up in the racquetball courts that records the sound in the room and then plays it back a minute later, simultaneously with all of the sound that has been recorded previously. The cacophony will increase relentlessly throughout the week, resulting in a complete audio record of the room during RAW.
Thesis production "Here, Now" by Marisa Kanai ’15 is an interactive performance with an "audience" of two. Here the enigmatic Rabbit offers tea to a member of the audience. Fiona Wiedermann
I’m standing in the middle of an old-fashioned living room, surrounded by empty suitcases, tea cups, overflowing bookshelves, and a Twister mat, attempting to communicate with a dapper rabbit brandishing a tennis racket.
This could only happen at Reed—to be precise, onstage at Here, Now, a remarkable thesis production by theatre major Marisa Kanai ’15, which is performed for only two audience members at a time.
Marisa is working with her faculty adviser, Prof. Peter Ksander [theatre 2011–], to explore immersive environments and interactivity in performance, inviting the audience to engage in an intimate relationship with the actors, the space, and the content of the event itself.
You may associate Reedies with conspicuous non-consumption, yet we have cut a distinctive swath (both high and low) in the fashion world, with none more celebrated than Emilio Pucci MA ’37. After graduating from Reed, the legendary fashion designer led a fascinating life of international intrigue and was tortured by Nazi interrogators. His original designs are included in the exhibition Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 showing at the Portland Art Museum through May 3, 2015.
Italian Style documents Italy’s dramatic transition from post-war devastation to burgeoning industry. Sumptuous displays include more than 100 ensembles and accessories created by leading Italian fashion houses, including Pucci, Valentino, Gucci, Missoni, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Prada, and Versace. As Emilio Pucci propelled Reed into the world of alpine sport, as founder of the college ski team, his breathtaking designs propelled Italian fashion onto the world stage.
For its presentation in Portland, the only West Coast venue, the museum has organized a variety of programs for the general public, as well as a private tour for alumni led by docent Nancy Johannsen Morrice ’78 in April (see details). In addition, Reed students are eligible for a $5 discount (show your ID at the box office). Reed alumni, staff, and faculty are eligible for a $5 discount by using the code REED when purchasing a ticket online.
Data scientists Ross Donaldson '06, Allison Morgan '14, and Melissa Lewis '13 share career advice with Reed students at Working Weekend.
Building a career is dependent on both what you know and whom you know, as Reed’s fourth annual Working Weekend proved. The event, organized by the Center for Life Beyond Reed, attracted a record 336 students and young alumni who came to network with more experienced alumni and gain job-seeking skills.
Reed alumni created Working Weekend three years ago to help students transition from college to career. The two-day event brings alumni panelists from around the country to mentor students, answer questions and provide a window on the world of careers such as banking, law, medicine, technology, music, writing, and food.
The campus buzzed with notable alumni, including:
Prof. Erik Zornik works with students in his lab
Prof. Erik Zornik [biology 2012–] has been awarded a $444,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to support his research on mechanisms in the brain that generate rhythmic behavior—with the goal of finding new treatments for neurological disorders.
Prof. Zornik is interested in how behavioral variation is encoded in neural circuits. His research investigates a hindbrain central pattern generator (CPG) that generates the courtship vocal behaviors of African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis.
“Adults of this species exhibit a rich vocal repertoire of at least seven call types that range from rhythmically simple to temporally complex,” Zornik explains. “Xenopus vocalizations are sexually differentiated; males and females produce calls with distinct temporal characteristics that are regulated by steroid hormones during development and in adulthood. This makes their vocal behaviors an ideal subject for understanding the neural basis of behavior and behavioral plasticity.”
Reed students play the Glass Plate Game at Paideia 2015. The game was adapted from Herman Hesse's famous novel, The Glass Bead Game, by Dunbar Aitkens, pictured on the right.
There were nine of us gathered in the classroom in Vollum. We chatted in hushed tones among coffee cups with brown rims and the winter sunlight filtering in through the blinds. We were alert, we were prepared—although a few late stragglers had the distinct look of an unmade bed—and we began.
We started with Species-Specific Norms, and reasoned our way to The Need Not to Judge and from there Emergence. After a discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever,” we rejected Emergence as a suitable logical connection with The Need Not to Judge. Instead, someone posited Nature Tending Towards Perfection, which we accepted. Someone else posited Death as a counterargument, which led us to Emotional Manipulation, Unwanted Relationships, Agency, Music, and, finally, Hidden Potential.
Though it might sound like we were crowdsourcing a philosophy paper, we were in fact playing a round of the Glass Plate Game. The game has no winner or loser, and no score is kept. Instead, players engage in cooperative reasoning, and progress across a series of cards covering different topics.
The running diary of Russian major Timmy Straw ’17 provides a glimpse into the creativity of Reed students. Alex Krafcik ’15
People often ask me what today’s Reed students are like. A dozen adjectives spring to mind. They are brilliant, creative, curious, passionate, idealistic, committed, intellectual, and iconoclastic. And yet there remains an elusive X-factor about them that seems impossible to capture, no matter how many times I scan the thesaurus.
From time to time, however, I stumble across something that conveys something of the essence of Reed. Today it is a running log that was kept by Russian major Timmy Straw ’17 last quarter for a PE class. As readers may know, all Reed students have to complete six quarters of physical education; for the running class, they’re supposed to maintain a log of their runs. This is strictly a bookkeeping requirement, akin to logging hours on a timesheet.
In true Reed fashion, however, Timmy took a mundane assignment and turned it into a virtual art form.
Decisions, decisions. Reed has added a new comp lit major, plus two new concentrations: math-computer science and math-statistics.
The perennial sophomore’s dilemma—What should I major in?—just got harder.
In November, the faculty voted to broaden Reed’s curriculum by approving a new major in comparative literature, and two new concentrations in the mathematics department: mathematics-computer science and mathematics-statistics. All three tracks will be in place by fall 2015. (And it looks like a standalone dance major is also on the way.)
The mathematics-computer science concentration may seem like the most radical addition. After all, are computers really compatible with Reed’s emphasis on the humanities? The answer is a resounding yes. Reed has pioneered the use of computing in the liberal arts and sciences amid growing recognition that computer science constitutes a distinct intellectual discipline, bristling with unsolved problems, theoretical debates, and recursive paradoxes.
Psychologist, veteran, holocaust survivor, and jazz fanatic Frank Wesley '50 is the subject of new documentary by David Bee.
Like a jazz movement, the new documentary Frank’s Song, by Portland filmmaker David Bee, is at times languid, at others staccato, and sometimes a little drawn out.
Truth is, it’s a tall order for any film to capture the protean life of Frank Wesley ’50, who survived the holocaust, worked in the shipyards, became an influential psychologist and author of many books, and still, at the age of 95, cuts a distinctive figure in the Hawthorne district of southeast Portland.
Frank also is obsessed with jazz. The grizzled, diminutive, always-smiling nonagenarian is often caught on camera sitting in a chair, clutching and absentmindedly repositioning his brass wind instrument, much like a father with an infant. That is, when he’s not blowing into his sax with everything he’s got. “Jazz doesn’t let me die,” he says in his accented, soprano English.
With a leap and a bound, the swift Reed students fly through the new Steiner Dance Studio. Leah Nash
Reed has won an $800,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen its dance program with more classes, more workshops, and—pending approval from the faculty—a freestanding dance major.
“I am thrilled by what the Mellon Foundation's support will mean for dance at Reed,” says Prof. Carla Mann ’81 [dance 1995–].
The grant will allow the college to expand faculty positions in the dance department from 2 to 2.5, enabling professors to teach 12–13 courses a year. It also sets the stage for us to offer a dance major—something Reed dancers have long hoped for. Reed will launch a search for a new tenure-track professor to begin in the fall of 2015. After that, the dance department, including Prof. Mann and Prof. Minh Tran, will devise and propose a major. If the faculty approves, Reed would be the only college in Portland that offers a dance major (although Lewis & Clark and Portland State University both offer a dance minor).