New Rudolf Scholarship Established for Students of German
Four years ago, after being introduced by a mutual friend, Catherine Rudolf accepted an invitation to drop in on emeritus professor of German Ottomar Rudolf’s seminar on eighteenth-century classical theatre. The two proceeded to get married, and all the while Catherine’s fondness for German literature and Reed culture grew. “I find the students very sensitive, and I have a great appreciation for their intellectual gifts,” Catherine says. She recently established the Catherine and Ottomar Rudolf Scholarship to assist students of German language and literature.
“I believe in scholarships,” says Catherine. “I think they’re needed and important. I remember how thrilled and grateful I was to have a scholarship during my freshman year [at Lewis & Clark College], and this was an opportunity for me to do that for someone else.” Catherine chose to fund her scholarship through a deferred charitable gift annuity, a planned gift that makes fixed payments based on her age and offers certain tax benefits.
“Around 1995, I became involved personally in investing,” says Catherine. “I spent a lot of time at it, and I did well, but it was time consuming. This is a way to give to the college and have a good investment, so it’s a win-win situation. And it’s a way for me to honor Ottomar’s life here.” Rudolf has taught at the college for 44 years; he was recommended for the position by British historian Wallace MacCaffrey ’42 when they were both teaching in the early 1960s at Haverford College.
Rudolf gives credit to Reed’s humanities program for keeping him at the college for nearly his entire academic career. “It’s very important to a language department at Reed to have people teaching in the humanities,” he says, “because then students hear a professor from the German department present the material, and they say ‘that’s an interesting subject; why don’t I major in that or take some courses?’”
Catherine’s investing background leads her to highlight the importance of German as the language of a global economic powerhouse; Ottomar, on the other hand, values the language for the culture it conveys. “In high schools,” he says, “German is hardly taught. I feel strongly that today German is important. There’s something about German culture that is enduring. There is only one Goethe, as there is only one Shakespeare.”
“I’m glad we have added Russian and Chinese at Reed,” Rudolf adds. “When I arrived in ’63 we had French and German, and the classics of course. In the department, we taught the canon—the novel, drama, the lyrics; we taught a more straightforward literature course. Today—here and all over the country—one teaches in the German department courses such as Holocaust Literature, Turn of the Century Vienna and Prague, and Modern German Jewish Writers. Courses are more thematically grounded, across different boundaries, not just literature. I think it is fine, but it also can be problematic, because what gets left out are often the great German writers of the past. That’s one of the reasons why I still teach a course once in a while, such as a course on Goethe. He is our giant in German literature. Sure, one can move in different ways to achieve a critical understanding of German culture, but you still need the old masters.”
Of Catherine’s gift, Ottomar comments, “It’s something that I didn’t expect, and I hoped I could do something for the college beyond teaching. Now I have a wife who loves the college. So when she came up with the idea, I said, ‘That’s fabulous.’”