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LETTERS
reed magazine logoWinter 2009

Reed welcomes letters. The sender must be identified, and letters may be edited. Send them to reed.magazine@reed.edu, or Reed Magazine, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., Portland OR 97202-8199.



Remembering Jack Dudman

I was saddened to read that Dean Dudman had passed away. I believe I can write on behalf of all the “troublemakers” of 1962–65 (and beyond), including one member of the board of trustees, in expressing our recognition of Jack’s remarkable independence, human warmth, and honesty throughout a period when the administration and part of the faculty were enraged by perfectly reasonable demands which now seem self-evident parts of Reed’s “culture.”

As student body president in 1963, and then as student senator through graduation (with various classic or outlandish titles when my successors gracefully withdrew in times of crisis), neither President Sullivan nor his faction within the faculty and administration treated those of us who represented the vast majority of students with any spirit of “fair play.” Throughout, Jack and Vice President Dick Frost were the only members of the administration to advocate, usually in vain, for a political and personal dynamic based on the Honor Principle.

In fact, Jack never lost sight of his role as teacher, adviser, and, indeed, friend, despite the pressures we knew were brought to bear on him. Every September, he would call me in to provide me with a matter-of-fact, confidential briefing on new or continuing students with a need for potential sensitivity to any stigma others might project on them (within and without the Reed community). He did that with a justified confidence that the “radicals” were, if anything, more dedicated to revitalizing the Honor Principle than the top of the administration.

Jack surely played a key role as a faculty member (with Marvin Levich, Gail Kelly, Howard Jolly, Keith Baker, and others) in defending the college from disappearing into a university structure dear to President Sullivan’s heart.

With alumni, board members, and our adoption, however reluctant, of community government, this unwelcome and well-prepared assault was defeated. At the same time, the college led the nation in recognizing that students were adults (24-hour intervisitation, complete authority over student disciplinary affairs vested in students, hiring and curricular oversight and participation in faculty evaluation). Similarly, Reed’s students set off a coast-to-coast wave of reform movements (first across small colleges and then among state and private universities) that created political “space” for student civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests.

Reed’s community government, using student funds (including bookstore profits), sponsored the first debates—at the Portland Civic Auditorium—on the Vietnam War (Senator Wayne Morse vs., I recall, Senator Proxmire) and on Progressivism vs. “Conservatism” (the defeat by technical knock-out of William F. Buckley by our own Marvin Levich). Reed’s students played crucial roles in supporting a newspaper strike, as well as carrying out the first Draft Board sit-in in the country, eventually extending to an official role as adviser on negotiation to UC Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement and an unofficial role in the fall of several university administrations over students’ rights equal to the burden of military service: full citizens, no longer under in loco parentis.

The passing of Jack Dudman should, I hope, serve the Reed community as a chance to dissipate the silence over “what happened at Reed in the ’60s.” Without Dean Dudman, and key faculty members, a sensitized board of trustees, and years of effort, Reed would have become the “brand name” for “Big State U.”

—Tom Forstenzer ’65
Paris, France

I was deeply saddened by the news in the recent edition of Reed that former dean of students and math professor Jack Dudman has passed away. I’m sure many alumni remember him fondly, because he was such a helpful presence in the lives of Reed students during his long tenure at the college.

At a time when national events and cultural changes were driving students and their parents apart from each other, Dean Dudman was there for us, our wise, helpful and mostly nonjudgmental in loco parentis. When students “found themselves in a jam” (one of his favorite phrases), one could trust in his unfailing discretion, his ability to sort out complicated situations with utmost subtlety and respect for a student’s privacy.

In keeping with Reed’s character, Jack was not a typical dean of students. He often took unorthodox steps to help students who sought his assistance. He did not assume, for example, that it was the first duty of the dean to enforce the law, a position that sometimes brought him into conflict with local authorities as well as the college administration. Whatever the “jam” happened to be—a drug bust, an unwanted pregnancy, a roommate talking about suicide, an eviction—Jack believed in being a student advocate and mentor, rather than the official enforcer of rules. This way, he believed, he could make himself more useful to a student who might otherwise refuse to seek out help from an adult authority figure. Dorm advisers took inspiration from his example and tried to provide the same sort of help to the students in our dorms.

A few years after graduating from Reed, I worked for him as his assistant (1970–73). I was privileged to learn about the inner workings of his office, and to watch him handle an endless stream of student problems, sometimes 24 hours a day. A native Portlander, Jack enjoyed friendly connections with people downtown in medicine, the courts, and law enforcement. When local authorities sometimes harassed countercultural and politically deviant Reedies, he could work minor miracles in his efforts to resolve the situation in a student’s favor.

The work took a lot out of him, but he was good at it. He obviously felt he was doing something vital, making Reed a better place for its students. In addition to his difficult work as dean, Jack also enjoyed teaching math, and was well regarded in that role. His legacy is an entire generation of students who loved and respected him. This came home to me a few days ago, when I mentioned his passing to a Reed graduate. “Oh, Dudman,” she said. “He just saved me.” Those of us who knew Jack are grateful that he was at Reed when we were.

—Gray Pedersen ’68
Seattle, Washington

I am sad to learn of our loss of Dean Dudman. I was fortunate to know him in the early ’70s when I was at Reed. More than anything, he was an icon of elegance at Reed. When I consulted him on personal issues I faced as a student, he presented the most thoughtful, caring, and clear solutions to difficulties that, to this day, inspire me with admiration for his contribution to my life. I will miss him dearly.

—Herb Dreyer ’74
Palm Desert, California

Dean Jack Dudman was an invaluably kind and supportive force during my time at Reed. During my first fall break, one of my housemates had a health crisis that led him to call Dean Dudman at two in the morning. “Where are you, John?” Dudman immediately asked, and then got up and dressed and drove to where John was and took him to the hospital. Details of other specific instances have become fuzzy in my mind (or perhaps always were fuzzy—this was, after all, the ’70s), but I remember Jack Dudman as a peace-broker, troubled-water easer, compromise-finder. Sometimes simply seeing him walk by on campus gave me a little boost of calm. I hope he knew how greatly he was appreciated.

—Stephen Lindsay ’81
Victoria, B.C.

Last night, I opened the Reed magazine and read the editor’s letter—stunned and deeply saddened to learn that Jack Dudman had passed away this summer. Chris Lydgate did an excellent job describing the role that Jack played in countless students’ lives—during some very vulnerable years. Jack was a kind and caring and fair man, and a hero to the students. For those needing advice or guidance, his door in Eliot Hall was always open.

I was one of the many who stepped through that door, and if it were not for Jack I doubt I would have been financially able to stay at Reed. I treasure many fond memories of working during the summers with Jack while planning the yearly freshman backpacking trip. Last night, I was finally unable to hold my sorrow in, and my concerned husband came to check on me as I wept uncontrollably. Al sat by me and listened as I described the role Jack had played in my life. “I wouldn’t be what I am today if it hadn’t been for Jack,” I said.

I am so glad I got in touch with Jack a few years ago; we passed a couple letters back and forth and caught up with one another. I wrote to tell him I finally published a book, and I wanted him to read it. Fortunately, it also gave me the opportunity to tell Jack what a great help he had been to me during my years at Reed.

I was so lucky to know you Jack, I will miss you deeply.

—Tara Meixsell ’83
New Castle, Colorado

Remembering John Tomsich

It was with great sadness that I read the news of the death of John Tomsich in Reed [In Memoriam, Summer 2008]. Though I lost touch with John after my Reed years, I remember him as a mentor, friend, and inspiring teacher. John’s classes were always a profound experience, both academically and spiritually. I felt honored to have John as my thesis adviser.

With so many of Reed’s beloved teachers gone now (I also note with sadness the passing of Claude Vaucher), it is important to recognize the gifts these teachers gave to many of us. We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us become the people we are today.

—Roberta Alice Siegel ’76
Portland, Oregon

The Staircase of Learning

As an old ’54 graduate, I feel compelled to pass on to the younger Reed community, faculty included, comments made by two of my physics professors, William Parker and Kenneth Davis, lest their words of wisdom be forgotten. Professor Parker would occasionally make philosophical remarks during his lectures. He once said, “the sign of an educated person is someone who knows, the more he knows, the less he knows.”

I have observed that many, if not most, self-proclaimed experts or knowledgeable individuals possessing college degrees, including doctorate degrees, often fail to meet Parker’s “sign of an educated person.” I have concluded that those who wear their egos on their sleeves tend to fall into the “uneducated” category. It is therefore reassuring to me to hear in these troubled times, “educated” economists explaining that the world is in an unprecedented financial crisis and that they do not know exactly how to deal with the problems or how much worse they will get.

In one of Professor Davis’ second-year lectures, a student complained that the subject matter was too difficult to understand. I thought that Davis showed remarkable restraint and empathy when he replied, “learning science is like climbing a spiral staircase. If you drop a plumb as you ascend the stairs you will observe that it traces a circle.” He went on to explain that the circle represents the subject matter. As you climb farther you repeat again and again the subject matter, but it becomes more rigorous and difficult each time. Hence, a deep understanding of scientific knowledge is not something you easily achieve in a few college courses.

I mentioned Professor Davis’ analogy because the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in high school biology classes is today, in Texas, for example, under assault by proponents of Creationism or Intelligent Design who want the idea of divine intervention taught as part of a “critical analysis” of evolution theory. What I have observed missing in the arguments that I have read from both sides is the issue of whether high school students are intellectually mature enough to critically analyze current scientific theories. If they are, then would they not be qualified to review scientific manuscripts for publication?

I believe the Davis analogy of climbing a staircase to learn science discredits the belief that high school students, or anyone with meager science knowledge, is qualified to critically analyze scientific theories or review scientific manuscripts for publication. Therefore, state and local school boards, whose members are usually laypersons with a modicum of science knowledge, should not determine the content of high school science courses. That should be left up to the experts in the respective fields and to the science teachers to recommend which texts would be appropriate for their students.

—Marvin H. Lehr ’54
Austin, Texas

The Religion Issue

I think the discussion about religion at Reed is a good thing, but would like to see it broadened. As much as Reed seems to be an ivory tower, it is very much immersed in, and a product of, American culture. Religion not only poses personal questions of the roles of faith and religion in personal life and in the questions of personal liberties and the value of reason and empirical science in the search for truth at Reed, but there are parallel issues for the nation as a whole. The rise of “alternative religions” and practices like tarot cards, belief in astrology and paranormal phenomena, plus the rise of fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam, and perhaps other religions, demands inquiry into the question “why are these happening, and what are the effects?” We’ve just had eight years of an administration that professes to be religious, and has done more than most to try to ignore or suppress scientific findings, and intimidate scientists into not reporting results the administration doesn’t like. Ideology appears to be a belief system in politics that leads people to not want to be bothered with the facts. Europe and Australia have become much more secular than the United States, where religious practice has remained strong and moved toward the fundamentalist view that every word of the Bible is to be believed literally, and some passages that don’t fit current viewpoints are best forgotten, and evolution is totally wrong and a threat. A study found that among developed countries, those that are the most religious, like the U.S., are the most dysfunctional in things like infant mortality, education levels, violence, etc. Why is that? Surely these are important things to discuss and debate; what type of society do we want?

—Douglas Fenner ’71
Pago Pago, American Samoa

I liked Arthur Lezin’s letter in the latest issue of Reed magazine. I did not like the quoted statements of President Diver that the reason religion was so absent at Reed was so many Jewish students and children of Godless professors (that’s me). Maybe I missed something at Reed, but I did not perceive an imbalance of any subgroup—I didn’t even know my boyfriend-husband was Jewish until several months into the relationship.

I went to church when I was a teenager but I thought that was something to leave behind at college. I have never been religious as an adult and neither are my children. I do not think we have missed out at all—I really believe Reed should not go seeking religion.

—Ruth Cederstrom Wolfe ’50
Lake Oswego, Oregon

Of Time and Tidepools

I shall never forget my first introduction to the Oregon beaches and tide pools in Dr. Ralph Macy’s Biology 101 class in 1953. I have returned many times and always feel as though the coast is a dynamic stage in the drama of existence.

So, as Emily Dickenson wrote:
This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,—
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

—Christopher Ray ’57
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Editor’s note: Ray enclosed a delightful poem, “Oregon Beach,” which is unfortunately too long to include here.

The Houses of Eliot

The article, “A history of the trees of Reed,” inside the front cover of the calendar, refers to plantings by W.A. Eliot. The reference states that W.A. Eliot’s son (Craig P. Eliot ’24) and grandson attended Reed. You should know that his two daughters, Calista Eliot Causey ’20 and Mignon Eliot Eliot, attended as well; and there were two grandsons, Robert F. ’48 and myself.

Willard A. Eliot, the tree planter, was not related to the Thomas Lamb Eliot associated with the founding of Reed, but Willard’s daughter, Mignon, married another Reed graduate, Theodore S. Eliot ’21 (hence the seeming stutter of Mignon’s name above), who was the grandson of the founder, Thomas Lamb Eliot. So Willard did have an in-law connection to the founder, but that’s all.

—Warner A. Eliot ’46
Winchester, Virginia

Beat a Dead Horse

Please please please please please enough with the Beat poets already. They’re all lovely, especially Snyder, but for heaven’s sake there must be some other Reed grads in the last 50 years worthy of a feature literature article. While you’re at it, please give Lloyd Reynolds a break as well. The magazine seems stricken with glory-days syndrome.

—Julie Dugger ’91
Bellingham, Washington

reed magazine logoWinter 2009