There are many things I could say about my Reed experience and how it affected my life, but I want to share the impact that Lloyd Reynolds [English and art 1929–69] had on me while he was my adviser during my master’s in teaching program.
I had completed two summer sessions at Reed when I decided to move to Bend, Oregon. Dr. Reynolds said we could communicate by mail to begin my thesis. That fall, I wrote to him to announce my topic. I planned to do my thesis on “Creativity.” In a few days, I received an eight–page response, written in his perfectly lettered italic, explaining that I absolutely could not do this. He said it was far too complex. Then, he said, “After reading this, I recommend you pick up your chair, walk around it several times, and if necessary, throw it through the window.” Then, he emphasized again that I could not do it. “It is too mature for you.”
This infuriated me as I was close to 40 and the mother of three children. However, since I was already an art teacher, I felt it was important to understand that creativity is an integral aspect of being an instructor. I wrote and told him that I must follow this path for my thesis. During the following winter, I received many more letters from him on details about researching this topic. He sent a lengthy reading list involving many other cultures as well as our own.
We exchanged letters nearly every week during the school year, as I wrote my paper. As I recall, he added cutting but helpful comments for recommended changes. (Unfortunately, these valuable letters were later destroyed in my house fire.) My thesis was completed and submitted to the educational committee in August 1965. Soon, I was notified to appear for my oral examination. When I arrived for the exam, I was invited into a small room where four or five professors from a variety of disciplines awaited me. They had many questions to determine my degree of competence. Then, an amazing thing happened. It became very still, and I said, “Gentlemen, if you had carefully read my paper, you would understand this topic cannot be adequately verbalized.” A stunned silence followed. They looked at each other, laughed, and then surrounded me, picked me up, and threw me in the air. That concluded my examination.
I received my MAT degree in the spring of 1966. I continued teaching art for the next 20-plus years. But, I never forgot the compassion and direction I received from Dr. Reynolds, and how he shaped my life.