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reed magazine logoSummer 2008

One Year at Reed and $1 Million for Performing Arts

Jane Buchan's pledge, along with matching funds from
the Andrew Mellon Foundation, will help support
performing arts at Reed.

Although Jane Buchan did not graduate from Reed, the classes she took at the college for a year as a high school student in the Young Scholars Program influenced her career and shaped her philanthropic commitments.

Buchan, co-founder and CEO of Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company (PAAMCO), recently pledged $1 million to Reedís performing arts endowment. Her generosity puts Reed within $146,000 of its goal of raising $4.5 million in private donations to create a performing arts endowment. Donations will be matched by the Andrew Mellon Foundation at a rate of 3:1 to create a total endowment of $6 million.

The new endowment will add faculty positions in music, theatre, and dance; programmatic resources for the dance department; and a librarian to support the performing arts departments. In order to offer students a more global perspective on dance, the college has taken advantage of early successes in the establishment of the endowment to recruit Minh Tran, a choreographer whose approach to modern dance draws from his Vietnamese heritage.

In 1982, Buchan was poised to graduate early from Portlandís Wilson High School and head off to Harvard. Instead, she deferred college in order to run track with her friends at Wilson for another year, and took political science and economics classes at Reed.

Buchanís passion for track, which eventually led her to the Olympic trials, had steered her to a Division I sports school, but her encounter with Reed changed her perspective. As a young scholar at Reed, Buchan took a course on civil rights and liberties, which cemented an interest in public policy, as well as the year-long Introduction to Economic Analysis class, which spurred her to a career in the field.

“What I treasure about Reed,” she says, “is the intellectual environment, the willingness to think outside the box, to respect people and encourage them to not be a number. My Reed experience totally changed my direction.” After the intensity of Reed students and the excitement of small-group discussions, the large lecture classes at Harvard paled in comparison. Jane looked for another option that would still allow her to pursue competitive track. “I walked into Yale, and it felt like Reed,” she says. “Here were these really smart people who loved ideas for ideasí sake.”

After graduating from Yale, Buchan did attend Harvard, earning a Ph.D. in economics. She went on to teach at the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and worked at various investment firms before starting her own company, now based in Irvine, California.

Buchanís continuing interest in both public policy and economics is evident in the hedge fund investment company she co-founded. She envisions a broad mission for PAAMCO, which manages $11.1 billion in customized portfolios of hedge funds. “This is not an investment firm thatís here to make wealthy people wealthier,” she says. “Itís very important to us, the public policy mission of providing strong retirement returns for these big public pension plans.” She credits Reed with encouraging these values. “One of the things I like about the people at Reed,” Buchan continues, “is that they have very good value systems and they go off and do their own thing.”

Buchanís interest in the performing arts grows out of a broad understanding of education, a belief nurtured by her parents and shared by her husband, and PAAMCO colleague, Jim Driscoll. The two met as teammates at Yale; they also share an interest in numbers, with Driscoll earning a degree in mathematics. Before joining PAAMCO, Driscoll competed in the hammer throw for the United States at the international level. Now an active supporter of the performing arts in Orange County, he maintains an appreciation for the discipline and athleticism he sees in a friend who became a leading ballet dancer.

Buchan is delighted that her family can support the artistic aspirations of Reed students, the great majority of whom will not pursue full-time careers in the performing arts. “To be a truly educated person,” she says, “you need to be holistic and well-rounded. You need lifelong interests, and the arts are a really important part of that.” She sees her gift as encouraging even greater numbers of students to participate in the performing arts at Reed, regardless of their major. “That,” she says, “is the best part about it.”

reed magazine logoSummer 2008