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Fanfayre Jumpstarts Reunions 2014

By Ben Williams ’14 on June 16, 2014 05:02 PM

Andy McLain ’92 (left) receives the Babson Award from Greg Byshenk ’89 on behalf of Meat Smoke Crew. Photo by Leah Nash

Reed alumni spanning five decades descended on Cerf amphitheatre last week for Fanfayre Friday, the start of weekend festivities for Reunions '14: Reedfayre, June 4-8. The mood was festive (possibly more than usual because the signature cocktail known as Plato’s Punch swirled among the celebrants). Greg Byshenk ’89, president of the alumni board of directors, took the microphone and bid people find their seats. From the start, he set the theme of Fanfayre as one of gratitude, thanking the volunteers and class leaders who had come together to organize Reunions.

Comedian Yoram Bauman ’95 was introduced as "the world’s first stand-up economist" and the author of the newly published The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change. Bauman launched into a polished comedy routine where he divided the crowd into various parts of the political spectrum and proceeded to rib the right and the left in turn. He poked at the Tea Party as people who “believe in social darwinism but don’t believe in Darwin,” but refused to make fun of the Occupy movement because “you are not allowed to make fun of the dead.”

The Babson Society Outstanding Volunteer Award was presented to Reed's own Meat Smoke Crew, the alumni group that has been hosting Renn Fayre feasts since 1985. Accepting the award on behalf of the crew, Andy McLain ’92 extoled the value of alumni-student interaction. Meat Smoke, he said, offered students the “comfort of a warm fire and the likelihood of a warm morsel.” Based on his experience, he reassured alumni that Reed students have not changed. “The kids are alright, I promise,” he said.

Fanfayre also honored retiring faculty. As he presented commemorative ceramic bowls to faculty members, Byshenk read tributes from their former students. Prof. Kathleen Worley [theatre 1985–2014] said that she worked with wonderful students each year of her teaching.

Prof. V. Rao Potluri [mathematics 1973–2014] attested to being an example of what happens to a youngster if he gets a good education. “I don’t have enough words to describe how happy I feel to have served for so many years, and how many wonderful students I have met . . . I’ve loved working here.”

The venerable Prof. Joe Roberts [mathematics 1952–2014] received sustained applause. His speech was short. “I just want to say thank you, and take note of a movie I saw recently. You might think I have something to say, but on that I can’t possibly comment.”

Prof. Ron McClard [chemistry 1984–2014] was unable to be present.

Ed McFarlane, vice president and treasurer 1973–2014, and now treasurer emeritus, was praised for having steered the Reed endowment from $3 million to over $550 million during his 41 years at the college. “It is a pleasure to be associated with this institution,” said McFarlane. “A delight. Something I’ve enjoyed . . . almost every day.”

In addition, Robert J. Palladino [calligraphy 1969–84] was welcomed as an honorary alumnus.

Guitarist and vocalist Lauran Sheehan ’81 entertained the assembly by strumming a couple of tunes, including a rendition she titled “Pork Chop Blues” in honor of Meat Smoke, and led the audience in singing “Reed Remembrance,” with lyrics by resident wordsmith Prof. Ed Segel [history 1973–2012], sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne.”

President John Kroger concluded the event by thanking all the alumni who give to the college and who work with students. He took a few moments to speak about what makes Reed great, saying that it is “the values that don’t change. The alumni have a huge, important role to play to make sure those values are kept clear.”