Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

"Thinking Reed" hits bookstands


Given Reed's proud tradition of intellectual fellowship between students and faculty, it seems only fitting that two professors chose to commemorate our centennial by honoring the careers of an amazing group of alumni. To coincide with Reed's big centennial bash, Roger Porter [English 1961-] and Robert Reynolds [physics 1963-2008] have put together Thinking Reed: Centennial Essays by Graduates of Reed College, available from Reed's bookstore for $19.95.

"Our graduates have carried something of the college with them wherever they've gone," write Roger and Robert in their introduction to the collection, "Reed is known to the world largely because of them."

Synaesthesia and the Great War

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"Today's dissonance in music and painting is merely the consonance of tomorrow," wrote Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky in a 1913 letter to Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. At the dawn of the 20th century, artists like Kandinsky and Schoenberg broke free from the norms of their medium--and subsequently, their era--by creating music and art that was atonal and abstract. But one year later, the entire movement was uprooted, and the daring avant-garde was replaced by the traditionalism of yesteryear.

What explains this artistic retreat? The Great War, according to author and musicologist Olivia Mattis, who visited campus Saturday as part of ROMP (Reediana Omnibus Musica Philosopha), Reed's annual symposium on music and the liberal arts. "The high modernism of the pre-World War I avant-garde was displaced" after the war, said Mattis. "War called for a return to traditional values."

Listening to 1912


Reed's first students embarked on their college career during a period in Western music as momentous as any, with the crumbling of systems of form and harmony, influences from far beyond Europe, and an impending flood of new genres that would soon push the old ones into side channels and backwaters. It was ever thus, you could argue, but like the political upheavals going on at the time, the transformation put paid to the past in radical fashion and set the course for the last century right up to now.

Game ON

Good news. The women's rugby team is alive and well and planning its first home game of the season against Lewis & Clark tomorrow.

Although not a league game, the contest against L&C is expected to feature the good clean fun for which the sport is justly famed. (I can't believe I just wrote that.)

The women's team is currently seeking a coach who can lead them back to league play after the previous coach raised safety concerns with the side, which prompted Dean Mike Brody to withdraw the team from league play until he was satisfied the team could safely play competitive rugby.

Welcome to the Working Week(end)


The campus pulsed with energy Feb 3-5 as scores of alumni traveled across the country to participate in Reed's first ever Working Weekend, a giant career-focused event that featured speakers, panels, and synergy designed to help students and newer alumni get a jump-start on internships, contacts, and careers.

Alumni organized, led, and participated in a day of panels in ten different subject areas on Saturday. One panel was Non-Profits: Changing Lives, where alumni doled out expert guidance and advice on working in the non-profit sector. The panel was lead by Jan Liss '74, Emily Corso '10, Sarah Costello '95, Nell Edgington '95, Craig Mosbaek '83, and Jeremy Stone '99. Together the panel debated and discussed a range of issues, such as the merit of having a law or an MBA degree in the non-profit sector, and how to make yourself the most viable candidate for a coveted job or internship.

Bio Prof Bequeaths Fortune to Reed

stafford and dog.jpgWhen President Colin Diver announced last week that Reed's Centennial Campaign had passed the $185 million mark, he also revealed that the late Helen Stafford [biology 1954-87] had bequeathed an astonishing $8 million to Reed in her will. The bulk of the gift will provide financial aid to students otherwise unable to attend Reed, and $1 million will support the biology department.

When news of Prof. Stafford's gift reached her niece Anne Scarff in Amherst, Massachusetts, she was gobsmacked.

"We received a magnanimously generous gift from your aunt this week," we told her.

Campaign Tops $185 million

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President Colin Diver announced last week that the Centennial Campaign has surpassed $185 million toward its $200 million goal.

"We are grateful for the very generous support from more than 7,000 alumni and an additional 4,000 friends," Diver said.

The campaign supports priorities that were defined by the collective work of campus planning completed during a faculty retreat in 2005 and launched by the trustees later that year. It received early momentum in November 2007 through a $10 million commitment by trustee Dan Greenberg '62 and his wife, Susan Steinhauser, who were already significant supporters. A second leading gift was received in 2009 with $20 million from the estate of famed fantasy/science fiction writer David Eddings '54.

Women's Rugby: Welcome to the Scrum


The internet has been abuzz over the last few days with breathless rumors that Reed is getting rid of women's rugby. The reports sparked a veritable inferno of outrage from alumni who played the game at Reed, many of whom instantly leaped to the conclusion that dark forces in the administration were bent on Evil And Nefarious Deeds (and presumably fulfilling a lifelong quest to rid the world of oblate spheroids).

But as Mark Twain once said, "the reports of my death have been much exaggerated." Reed is not, I repeat, not terminating women's rugby. However, Dean Mike Brody has decided to withdraw the team from league play after a conversation with its coach.

Year of the Dragon


Reed ushered in the Year of the Dragon last week with dancing lions, dueling Tai Chi masters and delicious dim sum.

Soothing strains of the two-stringed erhu (that's the Chinese violin) drifted out from Kaul auditorium on Sunday, January 22nd, at a celebration organized by the Chinese House. The room was bathed with crimson light from the oval paper lanterns that hung from the ceiling. Couplets and calligraphy festooned the walls, conveying blessings and prosperity to the occasion.

The Fierce Urgency of Now

photo4.JPGThe two Reed vans idled in the light snow outside 28 West as 30 Reed students readied themselves for a day of service. It was Martin Luther King Day and schools, post offices, and banks across America were closed to celebrate the birth, life, and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Every year Students for Education, Empowerment, and Direct Service (SEEDS) offers a service trip so Reedies can make a difference. This year 43 Reed students, professors, and staff joined more than 800 other college students from across the Portland area to volunteer at Roosevelt High School, explore education as a civil right, and respond to what Dr. King called "the fierce urgency of now."
Roosevelt High School hosted this year's rally and service projects. Once labeled a failed high school, the North Portland institution is on the rise. Last year 89 percent of its senior class graduated, its highest rate ever.

Anthropology major Amina Rahman '14 has been working with students in Northeast Portland this year. MLK day has traditionally been associated with service and this struck a chord with her. "I felt motivated to use the day in a productive way that would benefit kids like me, who live in my city but face different realities," she says. "School is very much about support, and the idea of bolstering a high school with the help of anonymous college students is super cool, and I think, effective."

The Joy of Cooking, (with methylcellulose)


If you're a foodie or a viewer of Bravo channel's Top Chef you're familiar with the culinary movement known as molecular gastronomy. This awkward combination of words describes an inventive way of cooking with the use of tools and food products you're not likely to find in the glossary of Irma Rombauer's cookbooks or by watching reruns of The French Chef.

These techniques and tools include mixing sodium alginate into, say, pureed peas and submersing the mixture in a bath of calcium chloride to create pea balls; using liquid nitrogen to freeze linguine into edible sculptures; and centrifuges that turn fruits into crystal clear yet still flavorful liquids.

Dr. Demento goes "Here, There and Everywhere"


"I Want to Hold Your Hand" began climbing the U.S. pop charts in January 1964, heralding the arrival of both the Beatles and the British Music Invasion. Though "Surfin' U.S.A." was the number two hit of 1963, the list was chockablock with such easy listening fare as "The End of the World," "Sukiyaki," "Blue Velvet" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon." Six of the top 20 hits of 1964 were by the Beatles and the list now included songs by the Supremes, the Dave Clark Five and the Animals. It was a seismic shift (though Louis Armstrong did ring in with the number two hit of 1964, "Hello Dolly').

But of course the Fab Four didn't exist in a vacuum. In a Paideia talk entitled "Here, There and Everywhere," Dr. Demento (Barry Hansen) '63 presented a curriculum vitae of music influences that shaped the Beatles and rock n' roll.

Skeletons and Syphilis


Many years ago, when I was a psych major hunting for a thesis topic, I ran across a slender volume in the Reed library. It concerned an obscure neurological disorder known as general paralysis, quite common in the late nineteenth century, particularly among old mariners. The disease typically began with delusions of grandeur; as it progressed, sufferers were afflicted by a peculiar stammer, and they started to walk funny. Ultimately they lapsed into paralysis, dementia, and death.

Interesting stuff, but not really what I was looking for, so I shelved the book, promptly forgetting its title and author. One thing I did remember was the surprising conclusion that the disease had nothing to do with salt water or sea biscuit. It was, in fact, late-stage neurosyphilis, presumably acquired in dockside brothels.

Owl Fight Outside Bragdon Hall


Barbed wire, fireworks, and a high-speed car chase marked the apparition of Reed's sacred idol last month, when the Doyle Owl was unveiled publicly for the first time this academic year.

On the evening of November 5, rumors of the Owl's imminent appearance prompted scores of Reedies to trade in their hipster glasses and skinny jeans for hard hats and war paint and wander through campus hoping to capture the elusive Fowl.

Two rockets went off at 9 p.m., apparently to signal its location, one on the Great Lawn and one near the Student Centre (that's the former Infirmary for you olde Reedies), but these proved to be decoys. Students thronged Winch in search of the feathered totem, when a call arose: "Why is everybody over here? The Owl's at Bragdon!"

Dashing across the Blue Bridge, the students finally found the object of their desire lying on the grass outside Bragdon Hall, covered in gold paint, mud, and barbed wire.

Parker House Featured on Holiday Tour


Geography made Reed College and Eastmoreland neighbors and—to borrow a quote from President Kennedy—history made them friends.

Grand sponsor of this year’s Duniway Holiday Home Tour, Reed College opened Parker House to the public as one of five homes on the tour. Proceeds from the annual event, which took place Dec. 2, benefit Duniway Elementary School, a mile south of the college on Reed College Place.

"Reed College and the Eastmoreland neighborhood grew up together," said Jennifer Bates, director of public affairs for the college. "The college’s centennial was an opportunity to strengthen that relationship and showcase this jewel of a house to benefit the neighborhood school."

Graduation Rate Hits 70%


Reed's four-year graduation rate has jumped to an all-time high of 70%.

Out of 337 freshlings who arrived on campus in the fall of 2007, fully 236 marched with the Class of '11, yielding the highest four-year rate in the college's history.

"This is wonderful news," says Dean of Students Mike Brody.

National Insecurity


In a lecture that might have been titled "The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men," Former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig '65 challenged the premises underlying America's policies on national security.

Speaking in Vollum lecture hall November 8 as part of the Public Policy Lecture Series (audio or video version), Danzig noted that both Reed College and the national security establishment put their eggs in a rational thought basket. This can lead to trouble as rational thought has poor predictive capabilities.

Improvements to sexual assault response

Last August, President Diver shared with the Reed community the substantive changes made to prevent and respond effectively to instances of sexual assault on campus. Since that report, further changes have been made in the areas of staffing and adjudication.

Out of the many highly qualified candidates for the position of assistant dean of students for sexual assault prevention and response, Reed was able to hire its top choice. Jyl Shaffer will be arriving on November 28 from Vanderbilt University, and Reed is delighted to have her onboard.

The goal of Jyl's position is to coordinate sexual assault prevention programs, including educational resources for students, staff, and faculty; design and implement sexual assault response protocols; gather, interpret and prepare data to inform and improve programmatic efforts; and collaborate with campus groups and committees, as well as community partners to assure the quality of Reed's sexual assault prevention and response resources.

The Belly of the Beest

The spirit of invention is alive and kicking--or at least creeping.

A band of ingenious Reedies has pulled off a engineering triumph known as the Beest, a wheelless vehicle with twelve articulated legs, which scuttles across the floor of the SU like a gargantuan headless spider.

Inspired by Danish sculptor Theo Jansen and his exotic StrandBeest, David Lansdowne '09, Michael Page '10, and their co-conspirators in the student group DxOxTxUx (Defenders of the Universe) bolted their Beest together out of particleboard and two-by-fours. Here David shows editor Chris Lydgate '90 how the creature works--and walks.

Reedies in Rwanda

What would you do to promote peace in the world? Each year, undergraduates from around the country have this opportunity through Davis Projects for Peace grants. Reedies Kirsten Mandala '11 and Skye MacDonald '10 taught nonviolent conflict resolution to youth in Rwanda last summer.

Kirsten collaborated with Shabab Mirza '13 and Chiara Packard '14 to put together this video talking about her definition of peace and what that meant in Rwanda, which witnessed brutal ethnic massacres in the 1990s.

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