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Kroger Inaugurated—with Iliad

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President John R. Kroger sports snazzy Reed medallion at inauguration. Photos by Leah Nash

Amid the call of bagpipes and the flourish of horns, roughly 1,500 people descended on campus on Friday to welcome John R. Kroger as Reed's 15th president. Under the big top on the great lawn, Roger Perlmutter '73, chair of the board of trustees, invested Kroger with the trappings of office—including a copy of the Iliad and a bottle of spring water drawn from the Reed Canyon—in a grand inauguration ceremony.

Student body president Brian Moore '13 hailed Kroger as "the ultimate prospie" for his infectious enthusiasm for all things Reed and for enrolling in Hum 110.

"Libations!" They Cried

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Monday morning, 8:45 a.m. First day of class. As the new crop of freshlings streamed towards Vollum for their first real Hum lecture, laden with backpacks, and clutching coffee cups and water bottles, they were greeted by an unusual spectacle: a veritable pantheon of Greek gods hooting and hollering on the steps outside the lecture hall.

"Libations!" cried the gods. "Libations to honor mighty Zeus!"

Convoking the Muse

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Students, parents, and professors descended in their multitudes upon the Great Lawn on Wednesday for Convocation 2012. Under the billowing big top, 358 newly-minted Reedies were formally inducted into the tribe by an equally fresh president: John Kroger kicked off the ceremony with his first public address as head of the college. Kroger remarked that what he has been struck most by in his first eight weeks cannot be conveyed in a brochure: "Reed is one of the warmest kindest, most welcoming institutions I have ever experienced," he said. "It feels like home."

Home may now be Anna Mann or Foster-Scholz for new students, but they came from all over the globe to get here. Keith Todd, dean of admission, laid out the impressive pilgrimage; students hailed from China, Kenya, New Mexico, and Jakarta, among others. They include more Texans than Minnesotans, several Nicholases and Katherines, not to mention a Thor and a Zeus.

A Song of Two Syllabi with Prof. Wally Englert

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The first lines of Homer's Iliad reverberated to the carved rafters of the chapel on Friday as Reedies of all generations were reunited in the shared experience of reliving their first Hum lecture during Centennial Reunions. However, there was a twist. On the back of the lecture handout (distributed by a beaming President Colin Diver, who marched up and down the aisles brandishing copies) was a timeline that began, not in Greece, but in Egypt. And the Homeric epic of choice for the semester was not the tale of Achilleus and his anger, but that of Odysseus and his quest to return home. As professor Wally Englert [classics 1981-] explained, the Hum syllabus has undergone some significant changes in the past year...

"We used to say 'The Greeks were strange,'" Englert noted, while discussing the inclusion of new material from other Mediterranean cultures on the reading list, "But I'm going to do something a little radical here and say: Ancient cultures were strange."

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