Would I fit Reed Today?By Jerry L. Kelley '44
When I entered Reed in 1940, I was the first of my family to matriculate. I now realize my pursuit of competence was transitional in emphasis from social to academic. It was slow at best, and incomplete. Hence, I wonder if someone as immature intellectually and socially as I was would now have the opportunity which awaited me.
My pursuits were as follows:
Primarily social: Singing bawdy and other folk songs after dinner in the commons.
Dancing in the SU.
Working on campus: volunteering on Campus and Canyon Days; paid as a groundskeeper, waiter, dishwasher, and short-order cook; and manager of the SU.
Playing interscholastic sports.
Falling in love.
Collecting trophies: In the fall of 1941, we Eastport residents systematically tracked down and acquired the several dormitory symbols, including the Doyle and Eastport Owls, and the Quincy Rooster. I remember particularly a night visit to Norman Rupp's ('44) home, where a couple of us entertained his parents, while others located and absconded with one of the owls. We held a second-floor open house on a Sunday, preceded by vigorous assaults from envious residents of other dorms. John Krutilla '49 and I placed an unhinged door over the top of the stairway and gently pried off the opposing fingers of the advancing rivals. Other attackers, rappelling from the roof, were thwarted by our troops at the windows. We were victorious. The open house was held. But sounds of joy were muted. The date was December 7.
Primarily academic: Although the aura of such giants as Arragon and McKinley radiated throughout Eliot Hall, there were four others whose influence on me was even stronger:
Dorothy Johansen brought to this novice learner deep respect for the past and the critical analysis of its implications for the present. And this challenging content was presented to "my little cabbages" with embracing care and charm.
Robert Rosenbaum, or R2 as we referred to him, had a mind computer-fast. So were his reflexes and aim. Dozing off in his calculus class meant you'd be brushing chalk off the spot where his unerring eraser had landed.
Richard Jones was a brilliant historian. He became as important and imposing as those historic figures he paraded before us.
Blair Stewart, who later became a college president, was a professor of economics of eclectic stance. Memorable and symbolic indeed was the one-question, take-home final exam in the senior economics class-consisting of two students. The other was my roommate, Fred Shorter '44. We sat back to back at the agreed-upon time of 5 a.m. and wrote out responses, drawing upon our respective use of common course content. We diverged, almost polemically, in our choice of direction, but each with convincing rationale. Fred and I (uncommonly) received As and commendation from Stewart. What a testimony to intellectual honesty, to critical thinking, to the honor principle, and to Reed.
After completing my last semester I started USNR midshipman school in March 1944. I did not become a scholar or true intellectual, but I became appreciative of those who should be so described. So, back to my original question. Suppose an immature, unsophisticated, unscholarly but energetic and bright candidate applies. Would there be a place for him at Reed today?
Dear Mr. Kelley,
We still welcome the bright and energetic candidates who have a real desire to learn. Those who are willing to invest the time, thought, energy, and devotion in that enterprise will find a home here.