[Editor's Note: We were saddened to hear of the recent death of John Sperling ’48, one of Reed's most prominent alumni. Here's an article about John from 1995 that we stumbled across in our archives.]
John G. Sperling ’48 had it made.
He was a tenured professor with sterling academic credentials and a respectable, though sometimes rocky, career. In another decade or so, he’d be eligible for retirement. Then he could devote his time to writing and travel, opera, and theater.
We are very sad to report the death of Assistant Professor Melissa Schlachtmeyer. Prof. Schlachtmeyer died in Italy on August 6 as a result of complications from breast cancer. Her husband, daughter, parents, and sister were by her side. She was 41 years old.
Schlachtmeyer joined the Reed theatre department in 2012 and was a beloved and valued teacher, mentor, colleague, designer, and friend. She was instrumental in developing the new costume shop and the current theatre curriculum. Read more about her broad-based career as a costume designer for opera, dance, and theatre.
“She was clearly a woman of great accomplishments and talent,” recalls Jay Dickson, professor of English & humanities, “I had looked forward to getting to know her better in the coming years, and I am so sad and shocked that now I won’t.”
Longtime Reed trustee Dick Wollenberg loved to play the saxophone. He also played a key role in overseeing Reed's financial management. “It is not an exaggeration to say that without his involvement, leadership, and generosity, Reed College might not have survived,” said former president Steven Koblik.
Emeritus Trustee Richard P. “Dick” Wollenberg died at his home in Longview, Washington, on July 2, 2014. He was 98.
“The Reed College community lost a great friend and benefactor,” says President John R. Kroger. “Through his generosity and leadership, he helped build the college into what it is today.”
Wollenberg served four decades on the Reed College board of trustees (1962–2005), inlcuding nine years as board chairman (1982–91).
He also chaired the board’s budget policy committee from its inception in 1992 until 2004. Projects launched with his support include the establishment of the president’s discretionary fund, the endowment of a professorship in economics in honor of professor George A. Hay [economics 1956–83], and the completion of several major science facilities projects.
Wollenberg’s influence ran deeper than any particular project, however. When he joined the board in 1962, the endowment was almost nonexistent. By 1972, it had reached $3 million, and by the time he left the board in 2005, the endowment was valued at $350 million. Today it is $538 million.
Hungry alumni swarm Marketplace at Reunions to taste creations of the culinary, mixological, and intellectual variety. Leah Nash
On Saturday afternoon of Reedfayre, the Performing Arts Building was abuzz with alumni, students, and families browsing the crafts, comics, cosmetics, and, most numerous of all, culinary creations, all cooked up by Reed alumni.
Always ready for a grand appearance, the Meat Smoke Crew greeted guests with enough pulled pork and brisket sandwiches to choke a Doyle Owl. Gigantic Brewing offered samples of its latest seasonal beers, including the Firebird smoked Hefeweizen, which founder Van Havig ’92 described as “like a peanut butter cup . . . two great things making one amazing thing.” Next door, Daniel Thomas ’89 served up delicious red and green tamales from his popular Portland restaurant Xico.
One of the most arresting displays belonged to Bob Combs ’90 of Combs Honey, whose table featured a transparent container filled with honeycomb—and live bees. Once drawn in by the bees, I couldn’t help but sample his blackberry honey and take home a couple slabs of honeycomb for myself.
Prof. Kyle Ormsby [mathematics 2014–], who is set to start his tenure-track position at Reed this fall, is already bringing in the accolades. In May, Reed received a $172,146 research grant from the National Science Foundation for a project under Ormsby’s direction. The project “Structure and computations in motivic and chromatic homotopy” begins in September and continues through August 2017.
If the title leaves you scratching your head, Ormsby explains that the grant will provide support for his study of “some pieces of mathematics that lie at the intersection of topology and algebraic geometry.” Algebraic geometry, as you undoubtedly know, “narrows the focus of geometry, only studying shapes that are defined by polynomial equations.” Topology is the study of geometric properties that are unchanged by the continuous deformation of figures. For example, topologists consider doughnuts and coffee cups to belong to the same class (single-holed objects) because one could be stretched to resemble another.
“If topology’s objects are made out of saltwater taffy,” says Ormsby, “then algebraic geometry’s objects are constructed from peanut brittle—far more rigid and inflexible.”
Art major Maria Maita-Keppeler '14 came up with this T-shirt design for Reedies for Reedies, a student group that raises scholarship funds for an incoming freshman. Maria Maita-Keppeler '14
We’re in the final stretch.
Six days left in the fiscal year. Six days for the Annual Fund to reach its goal.
From time to time, alumni ask me what the Annual Fund actually supports. My answer: basically everything.
In the last year, for example, the Annual Fund helped Reed:
• welcome 356 new students to campus
• open a new Performing Arts Building
• hire 9 new professors from Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Cornell, and Stanford, among others
• license 22 students as nuclear reactor operators
• crown 321 scholars with thesis laurels
The Annual Fund’s dollar goal is an ambitious $4,084,000, a whopping number that is hard to wrap your head around. Just as important, however, is the goal for participation: 4,400 donors, out of a total pool of roughly 15,000 living alumni.
Figuring out why Reed alumni donate to the college may seem like a task for a psychic, but computational biologist Keith Allen ’83 is making strides armed with numbers and know-how.
A member of the Alumni Fundraising for Reed Committee, Allen has been exploring data on alumni giving for the past year. Presenting his findings at a Reunons 2014:Reedfayre Paideia class, “How Reedies Give: An Unapologetically Nerdy Exploration,” Allen showed the audience a new way of looking at (or looking for) alumni who give back to Reed.
The first lesson Allen’s exploration revealed is that consistency is king. Over the last five years, some 1,550 alumni made a gift to Reed every year. Contributions from that group account for a whopping $20 million—the lion’s share of the total amount given to the Annual Fund in that time.
Attorney Misha Isaak ’04 reads from a federal judge’s decision striking down Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage as couples react at the headquarters of Oregon United for Marriage. Photo by Gosia Wozniacka/AP
Some cheered. Others howled. A few were wearing go-go boots.
Together, we made up a crowd of 200 people. We were at the Oregon United for Marriage campaign headquarters in Portland, smashed inside a conference room too small to fit everyone. We listened to Misha Isaak ’04. He stood behind a podium, speaking to a swirl of television cameras, tape recorders, microphones, and notepads. It was noon on May 19. This was the historic moment we had been waiting for.
We had had won. A federal judge in Eugene had just struck down the Oregon law that excludes same-sex couples from marriage. Weddings started that afternoon. By that evening, hundreds of us were dancing in the streets of southeast Portland, joined by a marching band named LoveBomb Go-Go.
Andy McLain ’92 (left) receives the Babson Award from Greg Byshenk ’89 on behalf of Meat Smoke Crew. Photo by Leah Nash
Reed alumni spanning five decades descended on Cerf amphitheatre last week for Fanfayre Friday, the start of weekend festivities for Reunions '14: Reedfayre, June 4-8. The mood was festive (possibly more than usual because the signature cocktail known as Plato’s Punch swirled among the celebrants). Greg Byshenk ’89, president of the alumni board of directors, took the microphone and bid people find their seats. From the start, he set the theme of Fanfayre as one of gratitude, thanking the volunteers and class leaders who had come together to organize Reunions.
Comedian Yoram Bauman ’95 was introduced as "the world’s first stand-up economist" and the author of the newly published The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change. Bauman launched into a polished comedy routine where he divided the crowd into various parts of the political spectrum and proceeded to rib the right and the left in turn. He poked at the Tea Party as people who “believe in social darwinism but don’t believe in Darwin,” but refused to make fun of the Occupy movement because “you are not allowed to make fun of the dead.”
The Babson Society Outstanding Volunteer Award was presented to Reed's own Meat Smoke Crew, the alumni group that has been hosting Renn Fayre feasts since 1985. Accepting the award on behalf of the crew, Andy McLain ’92 extoled the value of alumni-student interaction. Meat Smoke, he said, offered students the “comfort of a warm fire and the likelihood of a warm morsel.” Based on his experience, he reassured alumni that Reed students have not changed. “The kids are alright, I promise,” he said.
Allie Morgan ’14 and Anya Demko ’14 installed a series of lasers and phototransistors on the spiral staircase in Vollum, turning the steps into a giant, twisting keyboard spanning two octaves on a C major scale. Photo by Tom Humphrey
Pythagoras proposed the harmony of the spheres; Anya Demko ’14 and Allie Morgan ’14 built the harmony of the stairs.
In April, the two physics majors installed a series of lasers and phototransistors on the spiral staircase in Vollum, turning the steps into a giant, twisting keyboard spanning two octaves on a C major scale.
To play the keyboard, you jump from one tread to another. Each time your foot lands on a tread, it interrupts a laser beam, triggering a musical tone. Stepping nimbly down the staircase generates the synthetic jig of an ice cream truck. Charging back up sets off an avalanche of organ tones that sound like JS Bach clearing his throat.
The two seniors spent many hours designing the circuitry, constructing the hardware, and installing the lasers in Vollum. “It was really a great experience,” says Anya. “This was the first time we really got to design our own circuits.”
"Yes Man" Igor Vamos ’90 (center) flanked by student divestment advocates Salish Davis ’15 and Austin Weisgrau ’15.
Political prankster Igor Vamos ’90, member of the media-jamming duo the Yes Men, ran true to form Monday at commencement ceremonies at Reed.
Vamos, who plays the character Mike Bonanno in the Yes Men, is known for sophisticated political satire, in which he often impersonates industry or government officials and concocts mock websites.
His latest prank was directed squarely at his own alma mater, however. In the middle of his commencement address, Vamos announced that he had learned over breakfast that the college was about to divest its $500 million endowment from fossil fuels.
SPELLBOUND. Creative writing prof Pete Rock wins Guggenheim to write a "fragmentary novel" titled Spells.
Peter Rock, professor of creative writing, has won a Guggenheim Fellowship to support work on his latest project, Spells. Known for the creative freedom they facilitate, Guggenheim awards are granted upon the basis of impressive achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.
Spells is a fragmentary novel done in collaboration with five photographers. The idea came to Prof. Rock years ago while he was working as a security guard in an art museum. To pass the time, he would invent stories inspired by the artwork he was guarding. Examples of this project are found on his website.
Rock, who has taught creative writing in the English department at Reed since 2001, is the author of six novels, most recently The Shelter Cycle and My Abandonment, and a collection of stories, The Unsettling. His books have been translated into several languages, and his stories have appeared in magazines such as Zoetrope: All-Story, Tin House, Epoch, and Ploughshares; they have been anthologized widely. He attended Deep Springs College, received a BA in English from Yale University, and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University.
Congratulations to English major Hannah Fung-Weiner ’16, whose poem “Pact” won this year’s Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize.
The Reed contest was judged by poet Paulann Peterson, a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, who has written six full-length collections of poetry, most recently Understory (Lost Horse Press 2013).
Fung-Weiner wrote “Pact” for her fall semester creative writing class with Prof. Samiya Bashir [creative writing 2012–]. “I was given this list of 10 nouns (brick, chair, artichoke, branch, pine, shrapnel, paper, avocado, corn, iguana) alongside a prompt for a love poem,” she says. “My first draft of 'Pact' contained each word; several iterations later, none survive.”
Switchboard founder Mara Zepeda ’02 brandishes the Demolicious Cup. She is now the third Reedie in a row to win the honor.
Switchboard founders Mara Zepeda ’02 and Sean Lerner ’10 just cemented Reed’s reputation for producing outstanding online entrepreneurs.
On April 6, Switchboard won the coveted Demolicious Cup, awarded to the startup that makes the most persuasive pitch at Demolicious, a sort of wildcat convention for Portland tech entrepreneurs that began in 2008 and is held at the Mission Theater.
Switchboard is now the third Reed-affiliated project to win the Demolicious Cup. Previously, Zach Babb '12 won for his work with Globe Sherpa, a public-transportation mobile-phone application, and William Henderson '08 won for Knock, an automatic password-entering app.
White “frass” fills the overpass air,
a new word from the Master,
living off the dew of pine needles,
The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery has been awarded a Ford Family Foundation Facilities Grant to create a functional print and drawings study room for use by Reed College faculty, students, and the regional community.
Reed’s prints and drawings collection currently resides in a room created in 1989 during the Hauser Library renovation, which included the construction of the Cooley Gallery. The grant will assist in replacing non-toxic wooden shelving with metal flat files, furniture, and upright bin-racks. This, in turn, will allow for careful handling of the objects in the collection by visitors.
The renovation will coincide with the anticipated completion of a digital inventory of the gallery’s works, created using museum-standard management software. Combining the digital search capability with the new more user-friendly storage will bring vitality to the collection for all those who interact with it.
Bryson Uhrig-Fox ’10 knocks down the competition as he snatches the disc from students' awaiting grasp. Photos by Kimberly Durkin ’13
Experience and cunning overwhelmed youth and bravado two weeks ago as a team of alumni all-stars dominated Reed students 17-8 in an epic alumni-student Ultimate Frisbee game.
The upper soccer field outside the Naito-Sullivan dorms was spattered with a decade's worth of uniforms as lanky students in red huddled in one end zone to gather courage against the talent-laden alumni in black. Student team captains Sam May ’13, Daniel Dashevsky ’13, and Xander Harris ’16 rallied their players with jokes about alumni beer bellies. Alumni heavy hitters Bryson Uhrig-Fox ’10, Andrew Lynch ’12, and Shane Rubenfeld ’06 (who coaches the student team when he’s not playing against them) traded quips about the sleep-deprived students.
History major John Young '15 and bookstore manager Ueli Stadler glow triumphant after running an awe-inspiring 50 miles in the American River Ultra-marathon
A single goal.
Two Reed runners accomplished an incredible feat of endurance last weekend, running 50 miles in the American River Ultramarathon.
History major John Young ’15 crossed the finish line in 8:54:52, coming in 114th in a field of 823. John, who hails from The Dalles, Oregon, was the youngest runner to complete the race.
Sasha Kramer ’99 has been named as one of the Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by the Schwab Foundation for her work on ecological sanitation in Haiti.
The Schwab Foundation, started by World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab and his wife, Hilde, defines social entrepreneurs as people who have an “unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development, a driving passion to make that happen, a practical but innovative stance to a social problem . . . and a healthy impatience.”
Kramer received the award for her work with SOIL, the nonprofit she cofounded and directs. Based in Haiti, SOIL deploys ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets to transform human waste into organic compost, which is desperately needed for Haiti’s rapidly depleting soil, thereby sustaining both agriculture and reforestation.
The Jefferson West, which housed Reed's first classes, is slated for demolition later this year. Photos by Tom Humphrey
The drab brick building sits on the corner of Southwest 11th and Jefferson, empty and forlorn, its doors locked and its windows daubed with messages from its last tenant—a social-justice program run by students from Portland State University. Overshadowed by the sleek new towers to the east, it's the kind of building you'd walk past a thousand times without ever noticing it. Unimpressive as it seems, this building is Olde Reed, in the most literal sense.
We came to explore Reed’s first building before it is demolished to make way for a 15-story apartment tower, which will most likely be more glamorous than the last vestige of the original campus. Our group consisted of Mike Teskey, director of alumni & parent relations; Mandy Heaton, Tom Humphrey, Laurie Lindquist, Chris Lydgate ’90 (editor of Reed), and Kevin Myers from public affairs; Gay Walker ’69 and Mark Kuestner from the Hauser Library special collections; and your humble correspondent.
The superintendent let us inside the building now called Jefferson West. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was greeted by the sight of broken mailboxes and the musty smell of crumbling brick. The building has undergone many transitions since it left the hands of William T. Foster and his 50 students. It was later home to the Cordova Hotel, the Mural Room, the Jazz Quarry, and an adult movie theatre. The top floor includes 80 apartments which once provided living space for some of the city’s poorest residents.