Reed president emeritus Paul Bragdon praised Rudolf for his loyalty to Reed and his concern for the college's welfare and well-being.
"If cynical and 'cool' is the favored style of some at Reed, Ottomar Rudolf is no model; he is the antithesis," says Bragdon. "He has a boundless and unabashed enthusiasm for his teaching, is an avid pursuer of ideas and the life of the mind, and demonstrates an unflagging interest in his students."
His students constantly bring insight into texts he has worked with all of his academic life. He recalls his recent seminar on Brecht.
"Their interpretations were fresh, unique, and quite critical," Rudolf says. "They tore it apart. My women students especially--each one brings forward their own interpretations, which I had not thought about before."
Rudolf's success in teaching German language and culture was recognized in 1989 by the German government itself, an award that came as a surprise to Rudolf. The German president bestowed one of its highest honors upon Rudolf as a cultural ambassador: the Bundesverdienstkreuz I. Klasse (Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit) medal of honor.
Rudolf plans to do a lot of traveling to countries he has not yet visited, including Asia and the Pacific Islands. He wants to do more writing, and he plans to take up watercolor painting, perhaps painting in a diary while he travels.
"I will miss this office," he says, looking around the neat, homey fourth-floor office where he held sway for so many years. "I had my seminars here."
If he could give advice for those who remain at Reed, he would ask that they stay with Reed's mission.
"This doesn't mean that the college shouldn't change, but the fundamentals of Reed shouldn't change," he adds. "It is crucial that young men and women get a liberal arts education; they need a wider education than just one discipline even if they're scientists, or maybe I should say because they're scientists."
Nancy McCarthy, a Portland freelance writer, also wrote the profile of Calista Eliot Causey that appears in this issue of Reed.