Reed magazine welcomes letters from readers concerning the contents of the magazine or issues relating to the college. Letters must be signed and may be edited for clarity and space. Our email address is reed.magazine@reed.edu.


The boar’s head processional at "Reed East"

From Bill McGrew ’57

Glaring from a platter borne by six robed figures, apple clenched tight in its jaws, the boar’s head made its first recorded appearance in the Eastern Mediterranean last Christmas. The hairy beast’s debut symbolically capped a series of academic and cultural borrowings by the American College of Thessaloniki (ACT), also known as "Reed East." As nonplused Greek academicians looked on, this hoary rite, twice plagiarized, from Portland and Oxford, was enacted by young instructors trapped in cross-cultural currents and manifesting an awkward self-consciousness suggestive of freshmen straining to fit the Reedie identity.

As an experiment in international education enrolling 800 students from 17 countries, including most of the Balkans, the Thessaloniki college is accustomed to crossing cultural frontiers. As a determined effort to demonstrate liberal arts values and methods in a European educational environment that stresses early specialization, it relies upon models drawn from American liberal arts colleges. And since I am the founder and current president, the favored prototype for imitation is Reed.

In fact, ACT, begun 17 years ago as an offshoot of Anatolia College, a secondary school originally founded by American missionaries and considerably older than Reed, was consciously modeled upon Reed’s learning philosophy and methods, and particularly the inspiring teaching of history and humanities professor Richard H. Jones.

Can the Reed model flourish in the Byzantine East? The boar gave only an oracular grunt in reply. The New England College Association responded more explicitly by granting accreditation to ACT just last December. To be sure, the trappings of tradition are more easily transferable than the substance of a Reed-quality education. In any event, the quest has begun.

Anyone know where we can find a good owl?


Thoughts on the February ’99 issue

From Robert Ian Scott ’53

Many thanks for the articles featuring Snyder, Welch, Whalen, Berry, and Dickey. I am especially pleased to see Bill Dickey receive the recognition that is his due.

From Margaret Smith Churchill Binda ’50

Congratulations to your editors and writers on the February ’99 issue. I enjoyed every word.

From Bernard Smith ’48

The February ’99 issue of Reed finally removed the veil from my eyes and dispelled the grand illusion I harbored of a marvelous Reed Institute, one in which academic giants such as Chittick, Knowlton, Griffin, and Scott could take on a ghetto-born immigrant’s son without a high-school education, 20 years late for college, and perform the miracle of turning him into a productive citizen who achieved his potential. Reed is no longer that kind of institution, and therefore I no longer recognize my alma mater. I want nothing more to do with it. Send no more issues of Reed. Its display of Reed’s decadence is too painful for me to bear.


Plumbers, care to respond?

From Ross Day ’79

As a librarian, my first reaction to the letter to the editor by Bruce Weiss ’80 ("New Column Needed?" February 1999) was astonishment: how could he lump my profession with plumbers, garbage collectors, and sign builders? Didn't he realize that accredited librarians must complete a master's degree (and oftentimes an additional subject master's)? Wasn't he aware of the many achievements of librarians that would most certainly "lend esteem to their name in class notes?" My Ph.D.-bearing wife has had a much more difficult time in securing that vaunted perch from which class notes are made.

I could tell I was falling into the standard I-don't-get-no-respect librarian whine. Yet I couldn't dismiss his assertion out of hand. As a graduate who has married (to date) only once and is raising no human offspring, who has held the same job for nearly 20 years, and whose publishing credits are limited chiefly to glowing acknowledgments in other people's books, breaking into the class notes has been quite a challenge. But perhaps he has taken the wrong tack: many of us have been satisfied to achieve noteworthiness in ourselves, in who we are to and for others, and in what we do daily in and outside our chosen profession. These achievements require no class notes: it would be unfair to our fellow graduates.

From Liisa Sjoblom ’85

I am one of those individuals Bruce Weiss ’80 referred to in his letter to the February 1999 issue of this magazine. While I understand his point that many of the individuals featured here have gone on to high-profile endeavors in their chosen fields, I feel that I must respond to a misunderstanding he has about librarians.

I do not wish to malign plumbers, garbage collectors, or sign builders, but, unlike these occupations, librarians are required to have further education beyond the bachelor's degree. A major misconception by many people is that all individuals working in a library are librarians. This is not the case. A library staff is made up of many people of varying educational backgrounds.

Librarianship is a profession requiring, at minimum, a master's in library science. In addition, many academic librarians have faculty status and are required to have a second subject master's or Ph.D. While I was an academic librarian, I was required to have a similar record of teaching, publication, and service to the profession as my colleagues in other academic departments. I have just made the transition to a public library and, like other public librarians, I will continue to teach, publish, and provide service to the profession.

As for anyone dismissing my "hallowed walk through Eliot Hall with thesis in hand," I do not feel this is the case. Like many of my classmates and fellow alums, we choose not to send in information about our lives. I feel that I have made a very positive contribution to my profession and assisted countless others to fulfill their immediate and future missions in life. The student who finds the journal article that helps them finish a paper, the retired person who comes in to learn how to find information on the internet, and countless others who come to the library to locate information, read a magazine, or find a good book. These are the people that acknowledge and legitimize what I do. A simple "thank you" from them means far more to me than any mention in this magazine.


Every dog should have his day

From Judith Nakhnikian-Weintraub ’74

I was really pleased to see the 1999 Reed calendar devoted to the dogs of Reed. I was hoping I might see a picture of Yavroom, a.k.a. Yav and Yavvie, class of ’74, who actually graduated Reed and the Portland Museum Art School in the joint BA/BFA program of ’77. One of the only purely positive aspects of my life at Reed was that dog.

I remember a lot of other fine and not-so-fine dogs of that era, a blond afghan named Sundance; Bonnie Ginsberg’s black afghan, whose name I can’t remember; Leslie Ludke’s ’74 St. Bernard; a pair of basset hounds; North; and countless others who kept us company when not going to class with us. Yav used to go to a particular math lecture while I was in chemistry lab; I was told about it way after she had taken up auditing the class. She used to go to Roger Porter’s humanities class with me, and would scratch to be let in to Sam Danon’s French class until he’d relent and allow her in.

Thanks for kicking up the memories with that calendar.



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