Bill Tudor ’65
In one capacity or another, Bill Tudor has been an important part of the Division of History and Social Science for over four decades. He is a Reedie himself—a history major who wrote a thesis under the direction of Richard Jones on the migration patterns of emancipated slaves after the Civil War. The thesis already demonstrates his penchant for social scientific analysis. It pursues an empirical hypothesis regarding differences between former slaves who had worked on small versus large plantations and tests that hypothesis with quantitative data.
After earning his Ph.D. in sociology at Vanderbilt, Bill joined the Reed faculty in 1973, and mentored many cohorts of Reed students until his recent retirement. He taught a wide range of courses over the years including social psychology, the sociology of work and occupations, historical sociology, and research methods. Along with his colleague John Pock, he was instrumental in maintaining and enhancing Reed’s reputation as a renowned source of sociologists who emerged from their undergraduate experience with exceptionally strong training in the fundamentals of sociological theory and empirical analysis. He was also a significant scholar in his own right. A paper on the relationship between feelings of powerlessness and varieties of workplace experience was published in 1972 in the American Sociological Review, the leading journal in the field. Another paper, on the implications of gender differentiation for different norms or standards of intellectual development, appeared in 1996 in an important anthology on social differentiation and social inequality. In both his scholarship and his teaching, Bill represented the very highest standards of serious, sophisticated and intellectually compelling social scientific inquiry.
After 31 years at Reed, physics professor David Griffiths announced his retirement this spring to the general consternation of his students.
A graduate of the Putney School and Harvard, where he earned a PhD in physics, David always dreamed of teaching at Reed. In 1970, he wrote a letter inquiring about a position but received only a polite postcard in return. He wrote again the following year with the same disappointing result. He kept this up until 1978, when he reluctantly decided to forget the whole thing. That summer, to his astonishment, he got a letter inviting him to apply for a position!
With his plaid shirts and undomesticated hair, David cut an iconic figure on campus. But it was his teaching, not his appearance, that was truly remarkable. “David is simply the best teacher I ever had, kindergarten to grad school,” says Craig Mosbaek ’83.
“He was so incredibly clear that I felt like I understood everything—relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.—at least for that moment,” says Natasha Dehn ’85.
David told Reed he was first drawn to teaching “because it’s something that’s important, and it’s something I happen to be good at. I enjoy research when it’s going well, but there are often long stretches when it doesn’t go well. Teaching is a source of continuing satisfaction. I like explaining things and explaining them with crystal clarity. I don’t mind spending four or five hours thinking about how to describe how a block slides down an inclined plane.”
He prepared for each lecture by writing out his notes verbatim the night before. Then he would set them aside and deliver the lecture with nothing more than a stick of chalk. “I just hate it when a lecturer walks you through a problem and keeps peeking at his notes and says, ‘therefore…uh…’” he says. “To me, that violates the trust between lecturer and student. I want my students to know I’m really thinking it through with them.”
As word spread that David was planning to retire, scores of former students plotted a surprise party to send him off in style. Bennett Barsk ’82, Rob Calvert ’82, Ed Gronke ’82 and Ernest Kinsolving ’84, aka the Multnomah Boys, crooned Gregorian chant and Toch’s Geographical Fugue. Sasha Hinkley ’98 wrote a skit, performed by Frank Selker ’81 and John Selker ’81. Jason Baker ’00 composed a laudatory villanelle and Alex Krebs ’99 intoned David’s praises in Tuvan throat-singing style. Others composed limericks:
THERE IS A PROFESSOR, QUITE MAD,
(TO STUDENTS, THE BEST THEY HAVE HAD)
HIS SHIRTS ALWAYS ACT AS
AN X- AND Y-AXIS,
A CHALKBOARD ALL COVERED IN PLAID —BB
THERE WAS A PROFESSOR NAMED DAVID
WHOSE PHYSICAL TASTES WERE DEPRAV-ED
HE GOT A POSITIVE CHARGE
FROM QUARKS SMALL AND LARGE
AND HE LIKED HOW ELECTRONS BEHAV-ED —TT
In his time at Reed, David wrote three influential textbooks: Introduction to Electrodynamics, Introduction to Elementary Particles, and Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. He also won several awards, including the Robert A. Millikan Medal from the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award. He sat on the committee of examiners for the Physics GREs, served on the editorial boards of Physical Review and Foundations of Physics Letters, was book review editor for the American Journal of Physics, and currently serves on its editorial advisory board.
For more details (and video highlights) about David’s retirement party, see http://www.vimeo.com/6109694.
—Chris Lydgate ’90 and Bennett Barsk ’82