Gail Kelly '55Gail Kelly, professor of anthropology, has taught at Reed since 1960. After graduating in anthropology at Reed, she earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at Reed, she spent 18 months in Ghana investigating the cultural interests of educated Ghanaians and three months in England studying careers of Ghanaian students in British universities. She has taught courses in social anthropology and anthropological theory, and her research interests include the anthropology of marketing and consumption patterns in the non-Western world.
Kelly is something of a legend at Reed. Known as a formidable teacher who has challenged thousands of students in her 40-year career, she once earned the dubious honor of being named "scariest college professor" by a local weekly paper. Often intimidating to some, she nevertheless earned the undying respect and admiration of others as one whose standards of excellence forced them to strive for depth and cogency in their work. Doug Spink '93, who was Kelly's thesis advisee, states, "Put simply, Gail's is the sharpest mind under which I've ever studied. Not in the grandstanding sense of self-importance, but rather in the literal sense of cutting, quick, and deadly effective. She had no tolerance for students without intellectual depth and a high work ethic. She expected more, something of interest, presented with flair, substance, and intellectual rigor."
Kelly has been a frequent participant in Reed-sponsored forums and lecture series, being known for speaking her mind with wit and without regard to current "political correctness." For example, in a 1973 public lecture, "The Economics of Dropping Out," she noted that "hippieism is what hedonism would be like, if it had been invented by Puritans. What could be more ascetic, bleak, and sensually uninformed than living on inadequate food, drugs chosen for their cheapness, and hand-me-down clothing?" More recently, she gave a lecture on the expression and suppression of change for a 1998 Reed College Women's Committee series, "Countdown to the Millennium."