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Kant, Reed, and the Aesthetics of Stools

Chilton GregoryOne of the highlights of Reunions '13: Reedfayre was Alumni College, a multi-disciplinary series of conversations and outings for Reedies of all ages. Aesthetics was the theme of this year's Alumni College #2 (which took place after Reedfayre), and school opened bright and early on Monday morning with a conference on Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790), led by Jan Mieszkowski [German 1997–].

Mieszkowski started the conference with a question that is central to Kantian aesthetics: what does it mean to say that an object is beautiful? Naturally the gathered Reedies—including Harry Travis ’69, Lowell Weitkamp ’58, Carole Maxwell Stuart ’63, Monica Mayper ’73, and Chilton Gregory ’60—turned to the objects at hand: the stools they had built by hand under the tutelage of master woodworker Gary Rogowski ’72 the previous day. The group agreed that Chilton’s stool was particularly attractive, but Kant’s claim that a true aesthetic judgment was devoid of all interest provoked skepticism in some of the conference participants. Evolutionary biology, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, and rose gardening were topics in the fiery debate on beauty and genius that followed.

In the afternoon the debate over aesthetics carried over to the kitchen, where the James-Beard-award-winning chef Diane Morgan ’77 took the same group of scholars through a series of recipes. Other sessions included:

Reed and the Sixties

Prof. Marvin Levich talks about the sixties at Reed.

Dozens of alumni packed themselves into a little classroom in Eliot Hall today for a chance to hear Professor Emeritus Marvin Levich [philosophy 1953–1994] discussing that most perplexing of subjects, the sixties.

The dapper suits and plume of cigarette smoke that once signaled his presence were long gone, replaced by blue jeans, sneakers, and a flat cap. He walks slowly down the hallway and his voice no longer booms—in fact, it sounds more like the rasp of sandpaper. But his eyes—and his ideas—have lost none of their intensity.

Chem Major Nabs Class of ’21 Award

Danielle DraperThe effect of nitrogen dioxide on aerosol formation might not sound like a particularly creative field of study—unless you study chemistry at Reed.

Chem major Danielle Draper ’13 just won the coveted Class of ’21 Award, recognizing exceptional creativity, initiative, and spontaneity, for her thesis, which looked at how nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emitted by vehicles affects the formation of aerosols, or tiny particles, in forests. It turns out that trees naturally emit gasses—like those responsible for the scent of spruce needles—that turn into aerosols in the atmosphere. Danielle wanted to know how that process was affected by manmade emissions--in other words, how humans are changing the “natural” flow of a forest. In particular, she investigated this reaction as it occured at night, under the cover of darkness.

To conduct her experiments, Danielle had to construct an atmospheric chamber, build a special computer model to study chemical kinetics, and analyze reams of data. Her findings were intriguing. While most tree emissions (e.g. the spruce-scent particles) react with NO2 to create more particles in the atmosphere than they would have alone, alpha-pinene, an emission largely found in pine trees, actually produced fewer particles when combined with NO2.

Getting Funky at Reunions

Tezeta

Tezeta Band to funk it up at Reunions 2013.

Saturday night at Reunions '13: Reedfayre, June 12-16, doesn’t begin with the fireworks. This year, it starts with Tezeta Band, Portland’s premier Ethiopian-style rock band. Tezeta Band is a sort of reunion in itself: the band is composed of members of the Five Fingers of Funk, the hip-hop funk fusion band that rocked Portland in the 1990s.

Formed in 1992, with a career that spanned nearly 10 years, Five Fingers was the Pacific Northwest’s premier hip-hop experience, opening for the likes of De La Soul, The Roots, and Run DMC. Five Fingers wound down in the early oughts, with frontman-rapper Pete Miser leaving Portland for Brooklyn. The rest of the band stayed in the Rose City, however, and, after a few years pursuing their own projects, came back together in 2006 to explore new sonic territory: Ethiopia. For the last seven years the band has jammed on the unique fusion of jazz, rock, soul, and traditional African that defined Ethiopian music during its golden era of the 1960s and ’70s (captured in the wonderful album series Éthiopiques). Tezeta will be bringing all their influences on Saturday evening, so whether you’re a hip-hop head or a funk connoisseur, come on down to the SU and be prepared to boogie.

Restoring a masterpiece, solving a mystery

The New York Times ran a fascinating story this week about the restoration of a landmark painting by Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31, 1950. The piece explains how conservators at the Museum of Modern Art, led by Jim Coddington ’74, restored the giant canvas that the Times characterized as a “masterpiece of Astract Expressionism.”

As they began the painstaking work of removing decades of grime from the painting, Coddington and his colleagues made a shocking discovery: some areas of the canvas were marked by synthetic resin, a kind of paint that Pollock had not been known to use. Furthermore, the resin had been applied using a sort of brushstroke that was unlike Pollock’s style. As Coddington told the Times, the sections showed a “fussiness that has nothing to do with the way Pollock applied paint.”

The evidence strongly suggested that these portions of the canvas had been painted over by someone else, possibly in an attempt to cover up some small cracks. But how could he be sure?

The Turning of the Thesis

thesis board

Making thesis deadline also entitles seniors to add their names to the thesis board outside the registrar's office. Photo by Eren Veziroglu ’16

Sociology major Brittany Wideman ’13 nudges the stack of paper across the counter and takes a deep breath. Her senior thesis, representing a year of intensive work (and two all-nighters over the past week), is now in the hands of the registrar’s office. More specifically, the hands of graduation specialist Mark Fowler, whose job it is to check over the final drafts of the theses to make sure that they conform to style guidelines: title page formatted properly, page numbers in the correct spot, adviser signature on the right line, etc.

Looking back, thinking ahead, loving Reed

Mike Brody

Mike Brody, dean of student services
Photo by Orin Zyvan

I love Reed. And by virtue of the fact that you are reading this, I assume you too have strong and hopefully very positive feelings about this place. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes Reed kicks my butt. And I know I am not alone in this regard. While it may be painful in some moments, I almost invariably love Reed more after the smack down, because it seems to me that we keep getting stronger, especially when we face our challenges together. Even in the midst of our most acrimonious debates, we are fundamentally in this together.

As Renn Fayre kicks off, I’m taking a moment to think about the year we are celebrating, and I wanted to share some thoughts with you. When it comes down to it my primary focus at Reed is student success. Knowing full well that even the phrase “student success” may raise for some the specter of nannyism, I am nonetheless unapologetic about the college’s commitment to student health, safety, and success. In turn, I am very proud of our alcohol and other drugs (AOD) prevention and response efforts, and I figured this might be a good time to say a word or two in this regard.

Davis Winner Hatches Scholarship Plan

Desmond Rgwaringesu ’14

Desmond Rgwaringesu ’14
Photo by Randall Barton

To win the Davis Project for Peace, Desmond Rgwaringesu ’14 had to count his chickens before they hatched.

This summer he plans to return to his native Zimbabwe and raise chickens to support village kids going to school.

Now in its sixth year, Davis Projects for Peace awards $10,000 to undergraduates to implement grassroots projects that promote peace.

Having won the prize, Desmond will return to Gokomere, a myriad of villages scattered around a farm founded by Jesuit missionaries in the 19th century. The area is served by two primary schools and a Catholic high school where most of the students are boarders.

There is a serious achievement gap between those students whose families can afford to board them and the day-scholars that walk to school each day from home.

Celebrating “4/20” At Reed

Reed students celebrate 4/20 with doughnuts.

Reedies were out in force in the student union on Saturday, April 20, which has become—for better or worse—an international day of inhalation among cannabis enthusiasts.

Tradition calls for pot smokers to light up their joints at exactly 4:20 p.m., but hundreds of Reed students instead observed the moment by munching on free donuts. As the clock ticked down to 4:20 p.m., the SU was filled not with the skunky odor of marijuana, but with students eagerly anticipating their chance to partake of a communal feast on torus-shaped pastry. And it was all courtesy of the man who has become the most public face of Reed’s policy on alcohol and other drugs (AOD)—Gary Granger, director of community safety.

The Perfect Dinner

fulbright

As the Reed community recently discovered, international cuisine pleases the palate, but international guests make a home-cooked meal singular.

On Friday, April 5, the Reed community and its neighbors invited students from more than 70 countries to dine in their homes as part of Home Hospitality Evening.

Occupying Wall Street—From the Inside Out

Wall Street trip

When you think of Reed, you don’t usually think of Wall Street. But why not? With our long tradition of rigor, hard work, dedication, and talent, a surprising number of Reedies have pursued successful careers in the world of finance—pinstripes notwithstanding.

Last month, the Investment Committee of the Reed’s board of trustees made an irresistable offer. Over spring break, eight lucky students—out of 20 who applied—would fly to New York City, all expenses paid, in order to get a better insight into the rigors, challenges, and culture of Wall Street. We spent four action-packed days meeting with bankers, hedge fund experts, and economic consultants. We also toured the NYSE trading floor and got to touch the Charging Bull, with Lady Liberty visible in the distance.

Farewell Professor Rhyne

Professor Charles S. Rhyne

Professor Charles S. Rhyne [art history 1960–1997] died on Sunday, April 14, as the result of a massive stroke. An eminent art historian, he was internationally renowned for his wide-ranging interests in the field, from the English landscape painter John Constable to the theory and practice of conservation, Northwest Coast American Indian art, and the use of digital images in research and teaching.

He was born in Philadelphia in 1932, the second son of the Rev. Dr. S. White and Ruth D. Rhyne. He was a graduate of Central High School, Philadelphia, and Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio. Between high school and college he attended Temple University’s Tyler Art School. As a student he ran track and cross-country and was proud of the fact that his Ohio Conference record for the 880 stood for many years.

Reedies Hold Union on Student Autonomy

What does “student autonomy” mean? Does the autonomy of the student body differ from that of individual students? How should student autonomy exist in practice? Does student autonomy exist at all? These were some of the questions raised Thursday night in a packed chapel in Eliot Hall for the Reed Union on Student Autonomy.

The Union, officially “Student Autonomy: Its Possibilities and its Limits," consisted of a panel of five speakers, each of whom gave short speeches before the floor was opened to the audience. Historian John Sheehy ’82, author of Comrades of the Quest, moderated the panel and opened the event. Following him was Lilli Paratore ’13, history senior and chair of the Judicial Board; professor Kris Anderson [psychology 2007–], who specializes in young adult development; professor Peter Steinberger [political science 1973–]; Dean of Students Mike Brody; and student body president Ari Galper ’14. President John Kroger was also present, but as a member of the audience rather than a panelist.

Memorial for Professor Emeritus Steve Arch

Steve Arch

Photo by Leah Nash

We invite you to join us for a memorial service to honor Professor Stephen Arch [biology 1972-2012] on Saturday, April 20, at 3 p.m. in the Eliot Hall chapel.

After the memorial there will be a reception at the Green Dragon, 928 SE 9th Ave, Portland.

Watson Winner Will Go to Africa

Watson winner Cole Perkinson ’13 prepares to make a joyful noise.

Reed student Cole Perkinson ’13 prepares to make merry with his marimba.
Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

All roads lead somewhere. For Cole Perkinson ’13, they lead to Africa.

Cole, a chemistry-physics major, has been awarded a Watson Fellowship to spend a year in Africa exploring native music.

The Watson Year provides fellows with an opportunity to test their aspirations, abilities, and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and many renowned researchers and innovators. The program offers a stipend of $25,000 to 40 fellows from 40 liberal arts colleges to pursue an independent study of something they are passionate about in a country that is not their own.

For Cole, that passion is Zimbabwean music, which he has played with his family since he was 10 years old.

RIP Professor Steve Arch

Steve Arch

Courtesy of Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library, Reed College.

With sadness we report that emeritus professor Stephen Arch [biology 1972-2012] passed away of a heart attack this past weekend. He was appointed the Laurens N. Ruben Professor of Biology in 1995, and was department chair in 1994–96.

Explaining in an interview why he had decided to retire last year, Steve said, “I didn’t want to die in my office, literally or intellectually.” The end came while vacationing in Colorado with his wife, Elizabeth, and friends. He was vital right up until the end, still shooting noon hoops weekly at the sports center. 

Daniel Walker ’07, who dodged his elbows more than a few times, remembered that Steve played basketball like he taught, “tough but fair.”

March Madness at Reed—Yes, Reed

Hoops at Reed

High fashion and devious fakery abound at Reed's March Madness (Photo from 2005). Photo by Orin Bassoff

Reedies packed the sports center on March 15 for an event they had been waiting for all spring. This wasn’t part of RAW, Reed’s annual arts week; it was a very different type of exhibition—March Madness.

Although March Madness at Reed may not feature as many teams—or as much advertising—as the NCAA version, its passion and intensity are unrivaled. This year marked the event’s 25th anniversary, and it showed in the approximately 200 spectators, participants, and supporters alike, who came out to watch the fun.

March Madness is a one-night, single-elimination tournament, featuring eight teams, compiled of Reed students, alumni, professors, and staff. The contest has its origins in 1989 when the Reed student team, which included Erik Brakstad ’89, was clobbered by a team made up of professors. “I thought to myself, where else would the student team lose to the faculty?” Erik said. He founded the tournament as a chance to get even for the loss, and the mania has only mounted since then.

How Do We Define Reed in the 21st Century?

Foster

Reed President William Trufant Foster, looking over a field at the future site of Reed College, 1910. The field is on the cross-canyon northern side of campus, and there are cows in the pasture.

“Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia universities reported record-low freshman admission rates for the 2013-2014 academic year as applications climbed above or held near all-time highs. Harvard offered seats to 2,029 students, or 5.8 percent of a record 35,023 applicants, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school said yesterday in a statement. Yale accepted 6.7 percent, Princeton offered admission to 7.3 percent and Columbia accepted 6.89 percent, the schools said in statements.

Top U.S. colleges that offer generous financial aid are luring record numbers of applicants even as the cost to attend increases faster than the pace of inflation and the number of high school graduates declines. The Common Application, an online form that lets students apply to multiple schools, has helped drive the surge.”

Bloomberg.com, March 28, 2013

Educating Women Steadies the World

Kristof

Photo by Heidi Hoffman

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argued that gender inequity is the central moral challenge of the 21st century in a public lecture that he delivered to a packed audience on Monday, April 1, in Reed’s Kaul Auditorium.

Using persuasive anecdotes from his book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Kristof began with the premise: “What slavery was to the 19th century, and totalitarianism was to the 20th century, gender inequity is to our time.”

The lecture was cosponsored by the Munk-Darling Lecture Fund in International Relations, as well as by the student group Reedies for Sexual Health Awareness (RSHA) and the offices of student services and student activities.

Lena's Paintings on Display

Lena Lencek

Professor, author, translator, traveler, collector, mentor, and—yes, artist. Welcome to the protean career of Lena Lenček, pictured here at home with a series of watercolors she painted on a sabbatical visit to Tuscany. Photo by Leah Nash

Recent paintings by Professor Lena Lenček [Russian 1977–] appear in Geochromes: The Spirit of Place in Line and Color, showing through June 2013 in the Vollum College Center Gallery. Stephanie Snyder ’91, director of the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, is curator.

The exhibition features works that Professor Lenček created during 2011–13 in some of the world’s most magical environments, including Tuscany, Puglia, the U.S. Southwest, Baja California, and the Oregon coast. Lenček states: “I chose a cloistered profession, but I’ve lived my life on the move, anxious to see as much as my eyes will hold, and in this gluttonous curiosity, pen and paper have been my accomplices. I sketch on the road, the air, and the sea because only when I look with my pen and brush do I catch and fix the fleeting conjunction between the timeless geography of land and my moment and the memories to come.”

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