FROM THE EDITOR
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FROM THE EDITOR
Overtaken by Time and Chance
Youth is wasted on the young,” my grandmother used to sigh, paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw. My brother and I, shoveling down our oatmeal at the kitchen table in the morning, were apt to greet this statement with downcast nods and skeptical grunting, but now that I’m back at Reed—more than two decades after my freshman year—I begin to see what she meant.
Like most alumni, I remember the canyon—that is, I have a dim recollection that there was a canyon, and that it contained trees and water and feathered life forms. What I somehow failed to notice is the sheer delight of wandering among the pine and fir on a January morning, as mergansers spread ripples across the glassy lake and geese vanish honking into a primeval mist.
I feel a similar sense of déjà non-vu whenever I step inside the Hauser Library. Goodness knows how many hours I logged in the stacks my senior year without exploring the passages to the thesis tower, or contemplating the grotesques who guard the reading room.
Why didn’t I pay more attention to these things when I was a student? It’s possible that the intervening years have washed away all trace of these impressions from my mind, but a more plausible explanation is that I was too preoccupied—with Plato’s Republic, the chaconne in D minor, the Fibonacci sequence, and the girl from Belgium—to spare a thought for geese and grotesques.
Now I can appreciate Reed from a different perspective. I see the enormous work, dedication, and sacrifice that make the institution thrive. I see passionate young scholars brimming with potential, diving into a world of opportunity. Sometimes it’s hard not to be envious—surely there is no other time of life when so many possibilities beckon from so many directions. But I console myself with the thought that even if opportunities grow less abundant with the passage of time, we grow more likely to recognize them—and seize them—when they come our way.
This issue of Reed presents many opportunities for exploration and seizure (not, I hope, of the apoplectic variety). The old News of the College department has been reborn as Eliot Circular, with a stronger emphasis on the flavor of campus life (see page 6). A new column, titled Apocrypha, will investigate Reed myths and traditions—beginning with startling new revelations from coach Jack Scrivens on the infamous episode of the Half-Time Crucifixion (see page 60).
In Defending the Citadel (page 21), Laura Ross ’98 traces the origin and outcome of the “curriculum wars” of the late 1960s. This piece, the culmination of many months of research, kicks off a series of articles exploring Reed’s intellectual heritage—a discussion we invite you to join at Reunions 2009 (see insert).
In a similar vein, Reed is hosting a series of roundtable conferences across the country to celebrate our upcoming centennial—check out centennial.reed.edu for more information.
Finally, we have received several excellent letters on legendary dean Jack Dudman ’42. Keep them coming—if there was anyone who appreciated a good story, it was Jack.
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