by David L. Perry ’73, alumni association president
It is late at night, you’re near exhaustion, struggling with a paper, behind on your reading in most of your classes, not getting along with your significant other (or too stressed to even have one), and on top of all that, it’s been gray and raining for as long as you can remember . . .
Or take my experience of March 6, 1970. Ken Kesey and his friends were coming to campus. Why go to class when you can hang out on the front lawn with a great writer and number-one hero of the counterculture? So I didn’t go to class, and had a fantastic day—at least until dinner when I met my friend Terri, who asked if I was ready for the French test. “What French test?” I replied in horror. “Oh, tomorrow we’re having a test on everything we’ve studied up to this point.” Sigh. It had been a great day, but it was a painful night as I crammed into my tired brain as many irregular verbs as I could. (I still have a soft spot in my heart for Professor Danon, who always welcomed me to class warmly, despite my indifference to le français.)
Did you hate Reed when you were there? I sure did. Not all the time, of course, or I would’ve dropped out. (If you add in the dropouts, I actually graduated in the top third of my class—sounds better than my actual class rank, oui?) When Michele Funk ’94 was a student, she asked my friends, Katie Bretsch ’74, J.R. Russell ’74, and me (over a dinner at Hung Far Low) how we looked back on our Reed experience. We all agreed that they had been four of the hardest years of our lives, and that nearly everything since then had been easier.
But enough of that. Imagine a kinder, gentler Reed, where the weather is warmer and sunnier than any time of year you’ve ever experienced in Portland. A place where you can study a topic of interest with no exams, or skip studying altogether and drink some great Oregon wines with old friends—as well as with the many new friends you’ll meet.
It’s called Reunions 2006 (May 30–June 4), but you don’t even have to be part of one of the “featured” classes (years ending in “6” and “1” this year) to come. You’ll be amazed at how much you have in common with your fellow Reedies (or Reedites, if you’re a little older than I am), despite the differences in our ages or the times we were there. Sit five or six of us down together—of any age or era—and it’s like we’ve picked up a conversation that’s been continuing our entire lives.
Alumni College (the intellectually challenging phase of reunions week) always has a theme, and this year it’s “You Are What You Eat,” featuring Stephen Arch, Laurens N. Ruben Professor of Biology, on how food and food production affect the development of societies. That’s the “study” part (no exams, though). Pressed for time? Then come later in the week for activities including a canyon tour, a golf outing, fun for the kids on the front lawn, a “thesis parade” before the all-campus dinner and dance Saturday night . . . you get the picture. Too much to do, too many people to see, and it’s over before you know it. Believe me, it’s a time (as the button says) to really “Love Reed.”
I hope to see you there.