Photo by Leah Nash
It is a classic fall morning in Portland—50 degrees and a torrent of rain. The cherry trees in Eliot Circle are a soggy minuet of yellow, red, and brown. From my office window I can see freshmen hurrying to Hum 110 and demonstrating a wide variety of attitudes to precipitation. One is engulfed in a cavernous raincoat and clutches a giant umbrella. Another is clad in a white t-shirt, a red bandanna, and rather unseasonable shorts. A history professor makes a mad dash across the circle in shirt sleeves.
It is the time of year when darkness falls with sudden intensity, when the wind blows a tide of leaves across the Great Lawn, when a cup of coffee seems less like refreshment and more like sanctuary. It is the season for buckling down and digging in. The frolics of September are a memory. The surprises of October are past. January looms. It’s time to get serious.
These thoughts occur to me just as Reed is heading down the final stretch of its Centennial Campaign. Launched in 2008, amid the deepest recession since World War II, it aimed at a goal that then seemed almost surreal—$200 million.
Four years later, after a stunning demonstration of generosity on the part of alumni and friends, the campaign is just $1 million short, with barely a month left to go.
Of course, it’s important to meet the dollar goal. But, personally, I am more concerned with the overall level of participation among alumni. Some of us have more capacity than others. But most of us can give something.
This issue is more than symbolic. The proportion of alumni who give money to the college is a key indicator of institutional strength. Bond rating agencies look at it. Foundations look at it. Other donors look at it. All with good reason. After all, if alumni don’t support Reed’s mission, why should anyone else?
As I write, 9,081 alumni, or approximately 62% of us, have contributed to the campaign.
That’s pretty impressive, but I know we can do better. So I appeal to readers to push us over the top. Raid your piggy bank. Rip out the envelope in the magazine. Go to Giving to Reed. We’ll take dimes. We’ll take nickels. Join in however you can—but please do it by December 31, 2012. We’re counting on you.