It is disheartening to note in the pages of Reed magazine the signs of administrative bloat [“New Faces,” December 2010]. I cast no aspersions on the talents of Bruce Smith, for example, but how did the college last a century and how did Reedies succeed without a dean of inclusion, engagement, and success? Too bad that Reed is joining the national trend among colleges and universities toward more and more administrative layers, and thus higher and higher tuition. (If the money must be spent, why not spend it on another faculty line or two in oversubscribed departments?) At least take some small comfort in the fact that Reedies’ tuition and fees are not subsidizing a bloated athletic program, as well—yet.
Editor's Note: We understand that having a dean dedicated to inclusion, engagement, and success may strike some readers as redundant since that is (one hopes) part of the job description of any dean. Nonetheless, while this is a new title, it is not a new position. For several years, the college has employed a dean of multicultural affairs as part of our mission to ensure that Reed benefits from a diverse faculty, staff, and student population. Conversations with experts in the field and staff members who have held this position convinced Dean Mike Brody and his team that the new title would more accurately reflect the functions of this position.
As I read your informative and accurate article, it struck me that it might be of some interest to place the events and attitudes depicted in the context of what the college at that time was like.
Sullivan believed a grad school would strengthen Reed.
When President Sullivan took the helm of the college, it was half the size of today’s Reed. The Reed of that day had an endowment of around $1.5 million. Yes, they were different dollars, but the interest on that endowment could barely maintain the place and pay salaries. The professional administration supporting President Sullivan consisted of a registrar, a recorder, a controller, an alumni director, and a dean of women students. The admission officer was a faculty member, as was the dean of men. Much of the functional support was provided by faculty committees, and, in at least two cases, by faculty wives. Importantly, there was no development group to raise money for the college. Later in his tenure, Sullivan was able to add a vice president and an alumni fundraiser. But in his early years, as president, he was expected to do nearly everything required to keep the college afloat.
Nationally, this was a time when a number of small colleges were folding or reconfiguring. His fear that Reed could fold was real. Sullivan believed, as did other national leaders at the time, that a small college would need at least 1,800 students to be fiscally viable. Rather than triple the size of the student body, and risk diluting the quality of students, he made a couple of creative suggestions. One was the graduate school model, but another was a cluster of three colleges, each the same size of Reed of that time. One was to be a science college, another in the social sciences, and the third a literature and arts college. Together, they would bring the number of students close to 1,800. The UC Santa Cruz cluster college was the model. The faculty did not adopt this model.
To consider the graduate school proposal, one has to understand some things about the college of that day. Unlike today, there was no expectation that faculty would be engaged in scholarly activities. The senior faculty, who controlled the curriculum, had in many cases been responsible for guiding the college through the Great Depression and World War II. Their teaching and committee loads had been so heavy that only a very few were able to develop scholarly work of their own. In the late ’50s and early ’60s, new faculty were being hired who felt it important to continue the research they had started prior to their arrival on campus. Thus, a coterie of new faculty and some senior members were hungry to become reengaged in research. Sullivan understood the advantages that scholarly studies would offer for both faculty and student intellectual growth. Indeed, when Sullivan came on the scene, Reed had effectively provided for student intellectual growth, but little opportunity existed for comparable faculty growth. It was largely for this reason that many whom I knew professionally had advised me not to accept the offer I had received from Reed the year before Dick Sullivan arrived.
Sullivan also saw that the facilities, particularly those for science, were inadequate, yet the college had to compete with institutions with superior facilities. As a consequence, he raised funds for a new building to strengthen the college’s position in science. He also understood that in order to engage in scholarly work, one needed time that would not affect the quality of teaching. In this regard, he helped to raise foundation money to reduce teaching loads by enlarging departments. Across the board, he enlarged many departments, so that they could offer stronger teaching programs with additional areas of expertise. As he enlarged the faculty, he also enlarged the student body, but at a slower rate, so as to improve the student-faculty ratio. His goal of strengthening the college to make it more competitive wasn’t just in science, as the arts division was first formed on his watch.
Finally, let me point out that the only time that a major inclusionary program was ever launched at Reed was under his leadership; it was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Sixty-three students, drawn from minority populations, were brought to the campus. The financial crisis referred to in the article, during the latter part of his presidency, grew out of this program; he believed that the foundation had promised to continue its support when the initial grant ran out, and constructed his budget based on that assumption. Unfortunately, the money never came though, and the college found itself in financial difficulty.
My memory may be faulty on some particular points above, but of one thing I am certain: the Sullivan years were years of transition. Change is rarely easy to live with. Thus, there may have been varied responses to his leadership. Old-timers like me, and students from that period, experienced their institution during a challenging time. But a college must evolve with the times to survive. No one should expect the Reed of 50 years from now to be as it was in 2010. Through it all, though, I would hope that the educational and scholarly values of our community of learning, which served as the foundation for the Reed of Foster, our first president, will be as much in play then, as they are today.
It says on page 33 of the December issue that in 1956 “there was no university between Eugene and Seattle.”
The very first full-time job I had was in the summer of 1951, helping to build a fish dam on the Siletz River for the Oregon Fish Commission. There were three other Reedies there (like me, foreigners): Carlos from Japan, Dave from [Nationalist] China, and Walter from Austria. We were all into the American work ethic, trying to really assimilate.
Working with us were two guys from what they called Portland U. I visited the place where they said they studied, somewhere a long ways across town, in a district called St. Johns. I thought it looked like a regular campus, what with class buildings, dorms, and a gym.
Was it actually a bona fide university? A year or so later, there was a Reed Union on the subject of Can There Be Naturalistic Ethics? Upholding the affirmative was a gentleman from Corvallis, said to be a logical positivist. His adversary was a padre from none other than Portland U. All I remember about this learned disputation is that Professor Stan Moore, reputed to be a Marxist—and later ousted from his tenured position by the trustees for this failing—stood up and pretty much sided with the padre.
I consider this vignette to be a form of circumstantial evidence supporting the existence of the University of Portland, way back then, because I cannot conceive of an institution of lesser standing than a university having personnel able to perform in this fashion.
Speaking of personnel, are there any freelance fact checkers out there?
Editor's Note: Ivan is correct about the University of Portland, which has been awarding degrees since 1925; we are duly chastened. However, UP is primarily an undergrad institution, apart from a couple of master’s programs, and is not a research university; therefore, the argument Sullivan and Vollum made about the lacuna in Portland was substantially accurate.
Why am I not thrilled to learn that for two years running, the average GPA of incoming students is a towering 3.9? [Eliot Circular, December 2010]
I thought Reed scorned such trivial statistics; it’s why we show U.S. News & World Report the door when they seek to rank us.
Aren’t we a collection of unusual intellects, all too often unrecognized by our humdrum high schools? Aren’t we a community of undiscovered talents, frequently so deeply immersed in our pursuits that we don’t always manage to polish the teacher’s apple and earn the shiny grades?
It’s a relief to know there’s room in this hallowed demographic for reed-cutting oboists and Chick-Fil-A managers. But would the Reed of today have bothered to admit an Albert Einstein, with his notorious school record? Please tell me we have not become a college of unquestioning scholars, fearful of challenging rules lest they disturb our Teflon transcripts.
Imperfect and proud of it,
Editor's Note: The towering GPA of this year’s freshlings is a product of two trends, one positive, one less so. First, Reed is an increasingly selective college that attracts outstanding students. Second, many high schools have succumbed to grade inflation, so GPAs can be misleading. However, if you spend a little time on campus you will soon realize that students today are just as brilliant, iconoclastic, unconventional, inventive, and imperfect as ever.
I find it appallingly amazing that Reed can conduct an environmental studies program [“Growing the Curriculum,” December 2010] with no apparent input from geology and related earth sciences. Surely geologic conditions and processes are an important factor in the environment. I graduated from Reed with a degree in chemistry, then went on to a career in environmental geology for more than 30 years. While the general education and specific chemistry training received at Reed have been of great benefit to me through the years, I was at a distinct disadvantage in obtaining advanced degrees in the geosciences. I believe you are doing your students in the environmental sciences program a major disservice by not offering at least some exposure to geosciences, particularly in the areas of groundwater studies and geochemistry. Many vital environmental problems facing us today require a careful consideration of geosciences factors to solve them. Water supply, disposal of hazardous and nuclear wastes, and cleanup of contaminated sites are among those critical problems. Surely at least a visiting earth scientist would be of great benefit to the program.
Editor's Note: Terry’s point about the importance of geology and allied disciplines to this subject seems irrefutable; several peer institutions have anchored ES programs in their geology departments. Unfortunately, Reed has no geology department; in the absence of the financial support necessary to create one, the faculty decided to set up Reed’s ES program within its existing departments. If any readers feel compelled to remedy this situation, we encourage them to contact the development office.
I enjoyed your editor’s letter [“That Old Sportin’ Life,” December 2010]. It reminded me of Jack Scrivens [phys ed 1961–99], who taught us how to play squash back in the ’70s. He was a great teacher, and I seem to remember he was also an accomplished (ranked?) player. I truly loved the game and played it well into my 30s. I also recall that my freshman year, a group of us earned the name “Whole Earth Jocks,” I guess because we had long hair and tossed a football around! One of our guys, Kevin Chin, was an avid cyclist who used to ride down the hills above Portland at 50 mph like a madman. And lastly, a mention of one martial artist and philosophy major, who was fond of saying that Spinoza wrote that a strong body is a reflection of a strong mind.
Your editor’s letter referred to nearly a dozen sports—everything from raking leaves to football—but omitted soccer. As this shows a lack of knowledge of Reed history, I thought I would write and tell you about soccer and the class of ’77. Please understand that this is a “Reed Story.” While I haven’t intentionally exaggerated, I would be foolish to suppose my recollection is exactly, factually accurate.
Despite having a few standout players, Reed had had a relatively unsuccessful soccer team in the years before my class’ arrival. Still, it played an intercollegiate schedule. I think in my era it was the only sport that did so. I’ll never forget seeing the faces of coach Vincent Panny [German, 1963–84] and captain Rick Wolin ’74 watching tryouts in the fall of 1973, amazed by the sheer number of moderately large, athletic young men who had come out. Several of my classmates moved right into the varsity squad, while others bided their time. In the first two years, we had unprecedented winning records, defeating both Oregon’s and Oregon State’s full varsity teams. By my junior year, UO’s and OSU’s varsity had moved on, although their club teams stayed in our league and were still strong teams.
My senior year, we had a truly fine team, filled with upperclassmen. It starred Dave Alcorta ’77 at central defense and Dave Sterry ’78 at center half. Other stalwarts from my class included Dan Hunter, Chip Brown, and Morgan Paine, though there were many others. John Weber ’78 returned from a year in Germany and led the team in scoring. The strength of the team was defense. We roared through the league schedule undefeated, and were at something like 6-0 having only allowed two goals. That brought us up against our bitter rival Lewis & Clark, also undefeated, and we played to a scintillating 0-0 draw on our home field. My memory is that each team had only one shot on goal as the whole game was played in the middle of the field. 0-0 might seem boring to some, but I assure you it was not boring to those of us in the fray.
We went into the state playoffs with that single draw blemishing a perfect record, but, alas, we had no happy ending. Playing with the wrong cleats on a wet Astroturf surface at Portland’s downtown Metropolitan Stadium, we slipped and slid to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Willamette, a team we had defeated on their own grass field a month earlier. Even Alcorta got beaten, something some of us hadn’t seen in four years. An annihilation of Southern Oregon College in the third-place game the next day was scant comfort as we watched Lewis & Clark take the state championship.
I can’t say for sure, but I suspect the falls of 1973 through 1976 were the golden era of Reed soccer. Here’s to my fellow teammates Herb Florer ’77, Reid Olson ’77, Scott Foster ’77, Mark Michaud ’78, Keene Satchwell ’78, and especially Bart, who died on Grand Teton over Paideia freshman year. (Sorry if I forgot someone or butchered his name.)
Regarding the article on Uncommons [“Reed’s Underground Restaurant,” December 2010]: It looks like terrific and tasty fun is being had by many. Incidentally, it also reminds me of a similar one-off experiment some of us did in the fall semester of 1992.
We were a group of five or six friends who lived together in the French House and shared a love of cooking and eating fine food—and a desire to avoid the commons whenever possible. Deciding it would be fun to cook for others, we concocted a plan to sell lottery tickets at $1 apiece, with the winner to get a gourmet five-course dinner for two on the night of the winter social. The tickets would pay for the meal. In the end, we sold so many tickets that we cooked two dinners for two winners and their dates. The French House incidentally has two dining rooms and a massive double kitchen, so this was easy to execute. We served each couple (in their separate private dining rooms) a lovely multicourse meal (alas, I forget the menu now), with white tablecloths and candlelight, and offered an in-house sommelier for the wine selection, a pair of waiters, and even a live violin serenade. Then the winners toddled off to the winter social and danced off their dinner (as did we)!
I was amused by the article on Uncommons. My recollection was that our own cooking activities in the dorms were on a far more primitive scale, such as heating up canned soup on a hot plate. However, one tiny sentence in the article rang out as somewhat of a misstatement: Reed can hardly claim James Beard ’24 as “one of Reed’s famous culinary innovators . . . .” While he did attend Reed briefly, according to several biographies he was expelled after “a brief stay” due to homosexual activity. What a shame! Granted, it was 1922. Hopefully times have changed.
Editor's Note: It was indeed a shame, and times have definitely changed. But the letter raises a fascinating point: was James Beard a true Reedie? He spent the bulk of his freshman year at Reed and cut a distinctive figure on campus. He won a prize for a Halloween dance costume in full drag, took part in operatic productions, was elected as the treasurer of the freshman class. Then, according to his biographer Robert Clark, he “became lovers with one or more male students and a professor” and was subsequently expelled. Unfortunately, we found nothing in the archives to shed further light on this episode, and Jim does not mention it in his autobiography. But there is little doubt that his time at Reed left a deep impression. After his death in 1985, he bequeathed most of his estate, including his collection of cookbooks, to the college, creating the James Beard Scholarship Fund. Reed presented him with an honorary degree in 1976. “There’s no doubt that Jim was expelled from Reed,” says lawyer (and former Reed trustee) Morris Galen, who represented Jim for the last 15 years of his life and helped draft his will. “But he wasn’t the kind of person to dwell on that. He held no animosity at all, not when I knew him. He felt very good about Reed, and was thrilled when he was awarded an honorary degree.” There is no absolute standard for declaring who is or who is not a Reedie, but we think Jim makes the grade!
It was sad to read that Fay Halpern Lande ’59 has died. My main memory of Fay is that she introduced me to the concept of not wearing leather. I was 17 when I first knew her, and from a politically radical but otherwise quite ordinary family. I had heard of vegetarians, but never of someone so dedicated that she didn’t even wear leather! It was one of the ideas that began to open my mind so it could grow. I’m sure Fay never had any idea what she had done for me. I only knew her slightly and through other people.
For Reed magazine to publish Mr. Kahan’s entirely un-researched and highly opinionated view on the “grad school” struggle can only be described as execrable journalism or slick propaganda. The editor failed to double-check sources or seek more authoritative information (written and oral) and is ultimately responsible for turning turmoil, hot and sweaty, into a pillow fight, or chili into pablum.
This is what Kahan’s article does. And it concerns a critical turning point in the college’s history. Given the outcome of that struggle, the years slipping into relative mediocrity under at least its recent and current history may justify the distortion. As a professional historian, however, now is now, then was then, and “now” never can be legitimated by a misleading description of “then.” “Now” was and is never the over-determined outcome of Reed’s fairly conflict ridden ’60s and ’70s. History also belongs [to] the “losers”—those of us who believed then, and believe now, that the college’s structure, personnel, budget, and planning must strive for Excellence (cf. Oxford English Dictionary).
In the particular case of the “grad school” struggle, the losers won and the story could be seen as a model for the college’s revitalization (a return to the “quest” for the very highest academic standards in the liberal arts, as propounded in the C[c?]onstitution, the honor code, and the stewardships of our best presidents) in the proximate future. Each “win” for that vision should be celebrated. Each loss should be a source of pain.
The Reed of Marvin Levich [philosophy, 1953–94], Howard Jolly [sociology, 1949–70], Gail Kelly [’55, anthropology, 1960–2000], Charley Rine [Rhyne? art history, 1960–97], and Lloyd Reynolds [English & art, 1929–69] stood its ground until, finally, mediocrity established its dominance. But history says—if it “says” anything—that change is the only constant and that future and struggle could bring back Excellence: a willingness by students, trustees, and some truly passionate teachers among the faculty to take stock of Reed’s current eclipse and to fight for a better, even the best, liberal arts college in America.
The “grad school” war was but the beginning of a conformist deviation of Reed’s development of its current status as a small college of moderate difficulty, attracting (and coddling) only the wealthiest elite of a distorted society.
But, it was a victory—however temporary—of those within our community who fought for quality and outstanding education against the constant pressure of materialism, group-think, disinterest in Big Ideas (and Ideals) that continues to characterize American “culture”: pop, middle brow, and college-university. The most obvious result is the fastidious, self-defeating censorship of the “F” word in describing the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, FoxNews, and Sarah Palin: Fascism: a mass movement organized by economic elites to prevent the possibility (even the theorizing) of basic social justice and human rights through the threat or exercise of violence, generally—but not always—supported by institutions of the State. Based on super-patriotism, militaristic values, mobilization (willy-nilly) of individuals into a paramilitary set of formations, eclipsing free association trade unions, democratic political practices, guarantees of due process, etc.
Reed, overwhelmingly white and wealthy, has become only one small cog in an educational machine, training future rulers, and imbuing them with a false sense of superiority over the less privileged. Had the college followed the narrower paths of Swarthmore, St. Johns, UC Santa Cruz, and Evergreen, this would not have been the net result.
The “grad school” struggle is instructive for any “agents of change” in the community, those with the willingness, and sometimes the means, to reverse these trends. Some of them, still directly associated with Reed, were active participants in this victory, now probably forgotten by the actors themselves due to the pressures of “real life,” however unreal it may be from the ethical and analytic standpoints we learned at Reed.
Such individuals would, should they dispel the fuzziness of memory and the compromises they have made, remember that. President Sullivan’s negotiations and maneuvers toward a grad school were secret. Only when he felt that it was almost a fait accompli did he publicly announce his intentions; that, student leaders—myself included—called the entire student body into extraordinary emergency session to enter community government, adopt its, as yet, imperfect constitution (despite my efforts—see Quest) to amend it in our favor, accepted ungracefully by President Sullivan;
All this, which led to his “surrender,” under his direct threat of various kinds of retribution against faculty and student leaders, many carried out without shaking us from our position: we were solidarity itself, even though the collaborators reaped significant rewards, including the Rhodes scholarship and support from Sullivan for professional and graduate studies at prestigious schools. Soon, thereafter, Sullivan was fired by the board after a unique demonstration of his irascible, racist nature.
These latter rewards remain the structural bond of corruption between the administration, a new, subservient faculty, and student leaders: bait for students and faculty of dishonorable character (under an honor system). Some were “outed” as CIA agents, all opponents of the student leadership at the time. Some pursued “distinguished” careers and board membership through private sector companies close to the Pentagon.
So it was and is.
Of course, I write as a participant/observer. But Reed magazine owes its reader due diligence in searching readily available records before publishing this amazingly misleading “history.” I am particularly motivated to write, since it shows that from mid-1962 to end 1965, the “good guys” could triumph on many issues; including some assumed as “their” due by today’s students:
Not all survive in practice, but all exist as options, as a compass for the future.
Editor's Note: In the printed magazine, we published only the opening salvo of Tom’s letter; here readers can find the exhaustive, unexpurgated version. In response, I must note that Jim Kahan ’64, the author of the original article, spent many hours poring over documents and interviewing sources; calling his piece “entirely unresearched” is untrue and unfair. Furthermore, Jim made several attempts to interview Tom, even offering to meet him in Paris, but received no reply.
Our piece on the demise of the legendary Lutz Tavern [“Last Call for the Lutz,” Dec 2010] wrongly suggested that the Lutz first opened in 1953, but Mary Spaeth ’53 pointed out that a photo of her father, Rex Arragon [history, 1923–74], and other members of the faculty council, lifting their glasses at the Lutz during Project Week, appeared in the Griffin of 1950. In fact, the Lutz opened in 1947. We apologize for the error.
As a follow-up on the memorial probiece about Rob (December 2010), Karen Lund Scott ’55 provided specifics about his academic career: While pursuing a PhD, Rob worked as a full time instructor at the University of Buffalo through a special program that was instituted in order to qualify the university for inclusion under the SUNY aegis; many other candidates took advantage of the program in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Rob worked at the University of Buffalo, now SUNY, for six years, and then moved on to Southern Oregon College in Ashland, Oregon, where he taught for three years before moving to Canada. Rob’s sons were Dana G. Scott ’79, Ian, and Sam. Dana and Sam survive him.
In our obituary of Colin MacLachlan ’52, we mistakenly saddled him with an imaginary middle name (“Alastair”). Daughter Claudia MacLachlan ’75 reported: “As a former newspaperman, my father told wonderful stories about the crazy mistakes that get into print when you are in the publishing business. In that vein, I note that he has never had a middle name.” We’re sorry that Colin, who got through life just fine without anything in between himself and his surname, suffered this posthumous indignity at our hands.