Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

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Reedies win Fulbrights

Russian major Isabel Meigs ’16 won a Fulbright award to teach English in Ukraine. During her time at Reed, she edited the Quest, lived in the Russian House, and taught a Paideia course in the ancient art of psysanky.

Congratulations to our talented Reed students and alumni who just won Fulbright awards to study overseas. They are going to embark on some fascinating journeys!

Russian major Isabel Meigs ’16 has been chosen to serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Ukraine. Isabel edited the Quest, wrote for The Grail, is a house advisor in the Russian House, spent a semester abroad studying in Russia, and has taught Paideia courses in pysanky, the ancient art of Ukrainian egg-dyeing.

Recent grad Annelyse Gelman ’13 won a Fulbright award to create “poetry films” in Germany. Annelyse wrote her thesis on improvisation and comedy with Prof. Allen Neuringer [psych] and recently published a book of poems, Everyone I Love is a Stranger to Someone.

Tech firms come to Reed for skull sessions

Chemistry major Luke Kanies ’96 founded IT giant Puppet Labs, which employs more than 300 people in downtown Portland.

The room is a hubbub of debate about broken code, JSON arrays, and the finer points of system architecture. But we are not in a conference room of a tech startup. We are gathered in a Reed classroom for an innovative event organized by the Center for Life Beyond Reed.

Its name? MindStorm.

Huddled at a whiteboard typically devoted to Milton and Hobbes, a group of students led by former math major Chris Fesler ’96 discussed the minutiae of designing service discovery protocols with all the earnestness of Odysseus begging Achilles to return to the siege of Troy. In lay terms, a service discovery protocol tells individual copies, or instances, of programs how to find and communicate with each other—so that if, for example, one instance of a security program fails, another can quickly armor up to continue its defense. Or so that, in the case of Fesler’s financial clearing company, Apex Clearing, a member of al Qaeda can’t sell shares on the New York Stock Exchange when one of Apex’s trade screening systems goes down.

Making a Career out of Creativity

This year’s Working Weekend featured an in-depth workshop on Arts and Beauty in the World for students interested in pursuing careers in the creative field.

The two-dozen students in attendance got a chance to spend time with a dynamic group of Reed alumni:

conservator Jim Coddington ’74;

Student Performers Win Kahan Fellowship

Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies ’16 was one of the winners of the Jim Kahan Fellowship.

Dance/music major Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies ’16 and art/dance major Grace Poetzinger ’16 are first-ever winners of Reed’s new Jim Kahan Performing Arts Fellowship.

The purpose of the fellowship is to provide students with the means to be able to spend their summer working on a music, dance, or theater project, which is performed at Reed during the following year.

Both students took creative risks with their projects. Grace travelled to Vienna to study an obscure but influential modern dance movement. Hannah, a talented dancer, spent the summer learning the clarinet. They performed a joint concert (or was it a Kahan-cert?) of music and dance in October.

Students Drub Alumni in Ultimate Match

LEAP OF FAITH. Xander Harris ’16 seizes the day as Reed students triumph over alumni in epic Ultimate match. Photo by Jordan Yu ’16

The Berserk—Reed’s men’s ultimate team—narrowly defeated an all-star alumni team 9–8 on the sports field near Sullivan Hall, Saturday, September 5. The victors gave an impressive demonstration of speed, endurance, and determination that left the alumni panting.

The game was held to honor the wedding of two Reed ultimate coaches: Shane Rubenfeld ’06, who has coached the Berserk since 2011 and played ultimate all four of his years at Reed, and Whitney Mount, who coached the Reed women’s team last year. Alumni ultimate players converged on Portland to celebrate the occasion and decided to seize the opportunity to play a game against the students.

The alumni team was the odds-on favorite—last time they faced the students, they racked up a score of 17-8. But Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, was not on their side in this contest. While the alumni demonstrated superior skill and cunning, the students had the hustle and energy to run down the disc.

Annual Fund raises record-breaking $4.4 million

AWE-INSPIRING. Alumni, parents, and friends gave a record-breaking $4.4 million to the Annual Fund. Photo by Leah Nash

We made it!

Thanks to a last-minute surge of support, Reed alumni, parents, and friends shattered the record in giving to the Annual Fund this fiscal year, which ended on midnight June 30.

UPDATED July 16, 2015: According to the latest unofficial returns, contributions to the Annual Fund amounted to an astonishing $4,442,186.22—the biggest in Reed’s history—blowing past last year's total of $4,084,000.

Reunions ’15 Opens with Fanfayre

Cheered on by Reunions attendees, retiring professors and staff were inducted into the ranks of honorary alumni. Photo by Leah Nash

More than 1,500 Reed alumni and allied life forms descended on campus last weekend for Reunions ’15and the celebration began with Fanfayre, the formal-informal opening ceremony that took place this year in the Cerf amphitheatre.

The event began with a charmingly odd welcome by musician Paul Anderson ’92, the composer of Reed classics such as “Sensitive Guy” and “On the Night Bus.”

Paul’s offbeat presentation set the tone for the afternoon: President John Kroger made quips about Reed lacking a football team, raising a rousing cheer from the audience, while Scott Foster ’77, the outgoing president of the alumni board, assured the crowd that his cowboy hat he sported was legitimate because he does in fact own livestock.

Class of 2014 Begins Quest for World Domination

Snapshot of the class of 2014 six months after graduation, based on a study by the Center for Life Beyond Reed. The knowledge rate for the survey is 85%; in other words, the destinations of 15% of the class remain unknown.

Like wildflower seeds on the wind, the class of 2014 has dispersed to the far reaches of the globe in search of work and opportunity.

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Life Beyond Reed (CLBR) six months after graduation, of those who responded that finding a job was their primary destination, 76% had found full-time or part-time employment, 10% were in grad school, and 4% were doing service work such as AmeriCorps.

Their activities span everything from monitoring human rights in Mexico, to working in the district attorney’s office in Portland, to promoting sustainable textiles in Tibet. More than 30 are doing research of one kind or another and about two dozen are teaching or tutoring.

Reed Alumni Go to Hell

Dante Alighieri, author of the towering Inferno.

President John Kroger and Reed alumni gathered in Prexy last week to discuss a burning issue—Dante’s Inferno.

Balancing copies of the Divine Comedy and glasses of wine, alumni listened intently as President Kroger shared his thoughts about this 14th-century masterpiece of allegorical verse.

Like many Reedies, Kroger read the Inferno in college. (It's currently on the syllabus for Hum 210.) Recently, however, he committed some leisure time to exploring not just Inferno but its two lesser-known companions, the Purgatorio and the Paradiso.

Working Weekend Connects Seekers with Knowers

Data scientists Ross Donaldson '06, Allison Morgan '14, and Melissa Lewis '13 share career advice with Reed students at Working Weekend.

Building a career is dependent on both what you know and whom you know, as Reed’s fourth annual Working Weekend proved. The event, organized by the Center for Life Beyond Reed, attracted a record 336 students and young alumni who came to network with more experienced alumni and gain job-seeking skills.

Reed alumni created Working Weekend three years ago to help students transition from college to career. The two-day event brings alumni panelists from around the country to mentor students, answer questions and provide a window on the world of careers such as banking, law, medicine, technology, music, writing, and food.

The campus buzzed with notable alumni, including:

Film Focuses on Enigmatic Psychologist

Psychologist, veteran, holocaust survivor, and jazz fanatic Frank Wesley '50 is the subject of new documentary by David Bee.

Like a jazz movement, the new documentary Frank’s Song, by Portland filmmaker David Bee, is at times languid, at others staccato, and sometimes a little drawn out.

Truth is, it’s a tall order for any film to capture the protean life of Frank Wesley ’50, who survived the holocaust, worked in the shipyards, became an influential psychologist and author of many books, and still, at the age of 95, cuts a distinctive figure in the Hawthorne district of southeast Portland.

Frank also is obsessed with jazz. The grizzled, diminutive, always-smiling nonagenarian is often caught on camera sitting in a chair, clutching and absentmindedly repositioning his brass wind instrument, much like a father with an infant. That is, when he’s not blowing into his sax with everything he’s got. “Jazz doesn’t let me die,” he says in his accented, soprano English.

Marketplace Spices Up Reunions 2014: Reedfayre

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.

Alumni Trounce Students in Ultimate Showdown

Alumni Frisbee Game

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.

Young Alumni Triumph in “March Madness” Tourney

Alumni dominated Reed’s annual March Madness basketball tournament last week as Just Blasé (composed of younger alumni) edged out the Has-Beens (older students) 30-26 in a hard-fought final match.

Now in its 26th year, the madcap single-elimination tournament features eight teams, composed of students, alumni, professors, and staff. Some players show considerable skill, others haven’t touched a ball in years. It’s not uncommon to see teams fielded by dorms, academic departments, the Ultimate Frisbee team, or the rugby team. The combination of wildly different levels of talent makes for exciting games, which progress from fun and sloppy to tense and skilled as the tournament moves into its final rounds.

There are some unique rules, too, that add elements of unpredictability to March Madness, including a running game clock, meaning that play is never stopped during the 12-minute halves, and the three-foul-limit per player, which requires any player who commits three fouls to leave the game immediately. This can cause teams to have to play with less than five players, if too many of their players foul out.

Combating Sexism in STEM

Reed students. Reed College students. STEM. Working Weekend.

Reed students attended a panel on "Women in STEM" at Working Weekend ’14.

As snow fell outside, Reedies braved the cold to take part in “Women in STEM,” a panel discussion for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, on Saturday.

The session was part of Reed’s 2014 Working Weekend, an event hosted by the Center for Life Beyond Reed to help students learn about career paths and strategies from Reed alumni.

Attendees might have anticipated that a major theme in the discussion would be the difficulties of being female in the male-dominated STEM world, but Janet Gunzner-Toste ’93 set the tone by saying, “I didn’t know there were gender issues in science. I just plowed ahead and enjoyed it.”

Performing Arts Building Takes Center Stage

Dancers perform "L'esprit de l'escalier," choreographed by Heidi Duckler ’74, to ring in the new Performing Arts Building. Photo by NashCo

Reed’s performing arts just got an 80,000 square-foot, glass-paned, light-filled, no-holds-barred, swanky new home. Years in the making, the Performing Arts Building is finally ready to take center stage. Classes are already being held in the building and its myriad rooms and performance spaces are beginning to hum.

The building opened Friday, September 20, amid pomp and circumstance, shiny red ribbons, and several gargantuan pairs of scissors.

The ceremony began with Blast!, a fanfayre for trumpet and synthesizer, composed by Prof. David Schiff [music 1980–]. Then, standing on the grand staircase that graces the atrium, President John Kroger welcomed students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests, giving thanks to the many people who ushered the building into reality.

Rescuing Survivors from Syria's Rubble

Eliot Stempf ’11 works to aid the victims of Syria's civil war from Gaziantep, Turkey.

When surgeon Muhammad Abyad was killed in Syria on September 5, as he did humanitarian work for Doctors Without Borders, it was hardly an isolated incident. Hospitals are routinely bombed in the chaos of current-day Syria, and so far over 20 staffers for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have perished while responding to disasters. On Monday, 50 medical professionals from across the globe united to publish an open letter in the Lancet saying that the Syrian health system is at a breaking point.

Somewhere in southern Turkey, Eliot Stempf ’11 knowingly nodded his head—and shifted in his low-rent desk chair as he contended with a glacially slow internet connection. Eliot lives in Gaziantep, Turkey, roughly 20 miles from the Syrian border, and is currently masterminding the launch of a humanitarian startup, SERA (Special Emergency Response and Assistance), which specializes in prehospital care and has so far trained roughly 50 Syrians to become emergency first responders.

SERA was founded in late 2012 by Peter Kassig, a 24-year-old Army Ranger and Indiana native who returned from Iraq intent on mitigating the carnage of war. Kassig, who’s an EMT, lives with Eliot in Gaziantep and frequently forays into war-torn Syrian towns like Deir Ezzor to lead training sessions, distribute supplies, and provide basic medical care. Eliot, meanwhile, remains in Turkey, hunched at his computer, networking with care providers, such as the Red Crescent, and conferring with two Syrian doctors who advise SERA on, as Eliot puts it, “how to deliver aid in a way that’s sensitive, without exacerbating political tensions.”

Dispute over Reed’s location brightens Senate hearing

Dr. Beth Robinson ’82 at Senate confirmation hearing

Stalwart correspondent Ed Mills ’80 drew our attention to a lighthearted exchange that took place this week during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Senator Ron Wyden [D-Oregon]. The committee was meeting to consider several of President Obama’s nominations—including Dr. Beth Robinson ’82 to the post of Under Secretary of Energy.

Committee hearings not exactly famous for their levity. When they aren’t immobilized by partisan wrangling they tend to be--how shall we put it?--less than riveting. Approximately two and a half hours into the hearing, however, the session was enlivened by a surprising geographic issue:

Dr. Robinson to Senator Cantwell [D-Washington]: "Yes, the issues at Hanford are very complex and very important, and as you mentioned, I grew up in Seattle, which is--"

"Star" Graces Performing Arts Building

Artist Lucinda Parker ’66 adds the finishing touches to the installation of "Our Solo Round Star Squeezed Between the Sky and Sea" in Reed's Performing Arts Building. Chris Lydgate ’90

Reed has received a grant of $28,000 to acquire the painting Our Solo Round Star Squeezed Between the Sky & Sea by celebrated Portland artist and Reed College alumna Lucinda Parker ’66. This acquisition was made possible with the assistance of the Ford Family Foundation through a special grant program managed by the Oregon Arts Commission (OAC). “The college is thrilled to acquire such a substantial work of art by a distinguished alumna during an era of profound growth and innovation in the arts at Reed," says Cooley Gallery director Stephanie Snyder ’91. "Lucinda Parker is a visionary painter, and an integral part of the Reed community. Her work chronicles the living history and vitality of the Northwest with unmatched vibrancy.”

Our Solo Round Star Squeezed Between the Sky & Sea, completed this year, is a monumental acrylic on canvas painting, measuring 91 x 153 inches. Its particular subject matter and the circumstances of its creation are unique within the artist’s oeuvre. Parker created the work while an inaugural artist-in-residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency Program at the late artist’s Florida studio complex. During the residency, Parker spent an entire month observing and making small gouache studies of the sunset. Concurrently, she began working on this encompassing vision of natural rhythm and spiritual transformation. In her words: “The painting explores death and renewal—the mystery of where the sun goes when it disappears into the ocean—old myths.”

Lucinda Parker is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most significant and enduring painters. She is associate professor in painting and drawing, emerita, at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where she studied fine arts in a dual-degree program with Reed, and an MFA graduate of the Pratt Institute. Her work has been shown at numerous institutions, including the Portland Art Museum, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and Marylhurst University. Her work is represented by the Laura Russo Gallery in Portland.

Sketching Infinity

Snapshot of the ForeverScape by Vance Feldman

Snapshot of the ForeverScape by Vance Feldman ’05

The universe of Vance Feldman ’05 explodes with jumbled houses, bridges and aqueducts, businessmen shaking hands, dolphins jumping out of rivers, and spacemen kicking their feet back in lawn chairs. To call his work monumental would be something of an understatement. Modestly titled the ForeverScape, his drawing rivals some of the longest art pieces in the world. Spanning roughly 650 feet from left to right—the equivalent of two football fields—the ForeverScape is assembled out of 700 sheets of letter-size paper and grows longer by the day.

The ForeverScape started in September, 2009, when Vance was in between jobs and found himself sitting in a bar with a ream of paper. He started aimlessly sketching a landscape and when the first page ended saw no reason to stop. The first couple hundred pages, drawn in ballpoint pen, feature a smoggy, industrial landscape littered with crowded buildings twisting into each other and spilling onto the road and barbed wire fences about to snag innocent hummingbirds. These give way to apocalyptic scenes of civilization being swallowed by the sea. Squid and clownfish lazily swim above a submerged city whose buildings are wreathed in slimy weeds and whose skyscrapers are tickling the belly of a whale. One scene depicts several men attempting to subdue and photograph what appears to be the Loch Ness monster. Later, after Vance switched to using a Sharpie, the sea becomes the sky and we zoom into a psychedelic rendition of outer space, filled with boats and clams and astronauts playing badminton in reclining lawn chairs.

The chairs pay homage to Prof. Michael Knutson [art 1982–], who once told Vance that all he painted for several years were lawn chairs. Prof. Knutson likes the piece so much that he shows it to his art classes every year. The ForeverScape demonstrates, he says, “an incredible imagination, focus and energy.” In a subtler way, it also evokes a childhood loss and a lesson Vance learned at Reed.

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