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Both Sides of the Aisle
I loved the last issue of Reed magazine and “The Politicals.” I happen to be a licensed social worker and now work as a legislative aide to the Vice Mayor of Cincinnati, David Crowley (also a social worker in his past profession). I have been waiting for awhile (years?!) to feel worthy enough to submit an update to the alumni section of the magazine, and now feel the time is ripe given your current issue. Thanks!
—Michelle Dunn Dillingham ’95
I was extremely disappointed in your recent article, “The Politicals,” that featured Senator Obama. Reed magazine handled the matter in a very inappropriate manner. In my opinion, no college or university should endorse a political party without presenting all sides equally. My support for Reed will continue as it has in the past. I have a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University and was the first chief economist for Standard and Poors. My hope for future Reed publications is that they will be impartial, informative, and fair.
—Roger J. Williams ’39
At the Cooley and Beyond
I was reading the preview by Stephanie Snyder ’91 of the Fritz Haeg exhibition to be held at Reed, and I was reminded that there are a few Reedies out there in the art world (myself included, as Artforum’s managing editor). Larry Rinder ’83 is the director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA); Cay Sophie Rabinowitz ’89 was until recently the director of the mega art fair Art Basel; Laurel Gitlen ’98 is the owner of Small A projects, a gallery that has just moved from Portland to New York. I’m sure there are other Reedie art-worlders out there who I don’t even know about; it could be interesting to look into.
—David Velasco ’00
Remembering John Tomsich
It was with great sadness that I read the news of the death of John Tomsich in Reed [In Memoriam, Summer 2008]. Though I lost touch with John after my Reed years, I remember him as a mentor, friend, and inspiring teacher. John’s classes were always a profound experience, both academically and spiritually. I felt honored to have John as my thesis adviser.
With so many of Reed’s beloved teachers gone now (I also note with sadness the passing of Claude Vaucher), it is important to recognize the gifts these teachers gave to many of us. We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us become the people we are today.
—Roberta Alice Siegel ’76
Hitting the Nail on the Head
Recently, I took my Summer 2008 issue of Reed magazine with me to the gym, and as I read on the elliptical machine, I had to slow down, so I could absorb the article by Rachel Luft [“Love Reedies”]more fully. I was struck by how well Rachel summarized my feelings about Reed—or rather, the process my feelings have gone through since graduating eight years go. While I was a student at Reed, I had a small group of friends, but I often felt disconnected from the larger community. I imagined that everyone else had extensive, active social networks and that I was the outcast, lonely and toiling away in the library. Since Reed, however, I’ve come to realize that my experience was pretty common, and as I grow older, I feel more and more attached to Reed and Reedies. Rachel was so right when she wrote, “Reedies are kind of great.” We’re unique and a little different, but we are kind of great!
I haven’t been active in alumni events, although I do donate and recently slapped my first Reed bumper sticker on my car. Rachel’s article encouraged me to get myself in gear and participate a little more; with a little boy on the way, I certainly plan to get him a Reed onesie! Rachel’s writing helped me feel a little more “normal” and a little more proud to be a Reedie.
—Stephanie Galvani ’00
The Religion Issue
Every once in a while I find that one of your issues draws me in for a cover-to-cover read. The issue on religion at Reed [Spring 2008] really resonated. I am glad Reed retains its students better, as I “attritted” after five very exciting but academically uneven semesters in the late ’70s. I shuddered to hear that a student succumbed to an overdose of a drug that I never saw at Reed. However, in my pediatric practice in Michigan, we have a patient finishing nine months of narcotic rehab from drugs he found at the local suburban high school. During my time at Reed, I was a non-observant but culturally identified Jew, and over the years I have grown to become more observant. I was thrilled to see that Reed students have the opportunity to observe Jewish holidays and learn Torah from a rabbi and rebbetzin within walking distance to Reed. Lastly, I was sad to hear of the passing of my professor, Marsh Cronyn. The semester I took organic ID with him was a highlight of my college career. He gave us a salad dressing-like mixture and told us to figure out the five ingredients. We spent the entire semester in the lab, at all hours, each with his own private, vexing brew. All the while Marsh smilingly looked over our shoulders, but would never give us a useful hint! Keep up the good work with the magazine.
—David Segaloff ’81
I revere the memory of Vera Petrovna Krivoshein, my Russian professor from 1965 to 1968. She taught me more than vocabulary and grammatical structures. She knew Pushkin so well, I felt she was a member of his family. Through her, the beauty of language came alive for me, and her commentary gave me insights into the vast mysterious tapestry of Russian life, past and present. This is ironic, because she lived most of her own life in Harbin, China, and Portland, Oregon, but the emigrant communities to which she belonged perpetuated the Russian cultural heritage. Vera Petrovna shared this heritage with young Reedies like me, particularly at Easter, which is the major holiday of the year for Russian Orthodox Christians. We were invited to participate in the midnight Easter service, if we wished, and later initiated into the delights of pashka and koulitch. These traditional Easter desserts were prepared by Vera Petrovna and shared generously with family, friends, and students.
—Priscilla “Pasha” Davidson MacGregor ’69
Dismayed would not be too strong a word to describe my reaction to remarks attributed to President Diver in the Spring 2008 issue on religion, and the letters that followed.
President Diver suggests that the reason Reed students in the past did not demonstrate a religious preference was the disproportionate number of Jews and the children of godless “professors, artists, or members of the creative class.” Guilty as charged.
But guilty of what? The attempt to separate science from myth? The reliance on reason, evidence, and logic? The ability to look critically at dogma or perceived wisdom, no matter how authoritatively presented? I thought these were the sine qua non of a Reed education. They are what attracted me to the college in the first place. I believe they were shared by the vast majority of my professors and fellow students. That kind of thinking had a lot to do with shaping the kind of person I became and the values my wife and I passed on to our kids.
I have the uncomfortable feeling that if President Diver has his way, the precious qualities of the Reed I knew will be changed, and not for the better. He states that “the overwhelming reality is that more of our students are going to be interested in religion.” May I ask, how will this outcome be achieved?
—Arthur Lezin ’49
As a former member of Reed’s Channing Club, which “flourished” on campus in the mid 1950s, I was disappointed to find it unmentioned in your otherwise fine article [“Getting Religion,” Spring 2008].
The Channing Club, the Unitarian youth organization, was perhaps unfairly considered a mere “front” for a small group of irreverent radicals who distributed its “official organ”—a mimeographed rant sheet called The Inquest. But its high literary standards, including exceptional poetry, should secure its place in the history of religion at Reed.
—Michael Munk ’56
Is Reed Still Different?
I am the parent of an alumnus of the Class of 2006 and want to let you know that I am in complete agreement with Joel Stonington ’03, of Aspen, Colorado [Letters, “Admission Squeeze,” Summer 2008].
My son mentioned to me an identical worry in 2005. He gave up full scholarships to colleges in Arizona to be a Reedie. I’ve always proudly said to people that Reed is better than Harvard, for the very reasons Joel Stonington writes about.
Academic fame is powerful and hard to resist, but let us not forget that Reed is different—reject survival of the fittest. Reed fosters humanity and actually exercises that policy. I hope I can praise Reed in the same way in the future.
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