Prof. Alan Shusterman and team plant a Tupelo near Eliot Hall.
Prof. Alan Shusterman and team plant a Tupelo near Eliot Hall.

Doug’s Fir and Alan’s Organic Imprint

Profs. Doug Fix [history] and Alan Shusterman [chemistry] plant trees on the occasion of their retirement

By Robin Tovey ’97 | April 15, 2022


“It takes ten years to plant/grow a tree; it takes a hundred years to educate/cultivate people” 

(In this quote from around 700 BC, provided by Prof. Jing Jiang, the character in green literally means "trees" today.)

If faculty retirements make you feel autumnal, fear not, for Doug Fix [history] and Alan Shusterman [chemistry] are leaving their mark in arboreal form this spring. Two saplings have been planted in tribute to these longtime community members, and each tree was selected with intention.

On the pathway between the blue bridge and Eliot Circle to the north of Eliot Hall, you can see a Douglas Fir start, chosen by the history department and the Chinese Humanities faculty to honor Doug Fix, Elizabeth C. Ducey Professor of Asian Studies & Humanities. Zac Perry, grounds supervisor, did the planting and Prof. Jing Jiang said a few words, noting "the pine tree is the most beloved arboreal symbol for Chinese scholars through the centuries for its integrity (upright) and longevity (evergreen)." 

While this young Douglas is a clever nod in name, the fir is a felicitous symbol of Prof. Fix’s dedication to the planting and protection of Portland's urban forest, not to mention his dedication to scholarship and teaching on modern China and Japan, since 1990. Prof. Josh Howe observed that “It may take another 30 years for the tree to sequester enough carbon for Doug to break even on all of the thesis drafts his students have burned at Renn Fayre over those three decades!”

In the greenspace between Eliot Hall and Winch, you’ll notice the Tupelo tree honoring Professor Emeritus Shusterman, who retired in 2021 after 32 years of teaching organic chemistry; it was selected because it will display beautiful fall color for the eyes and offer benefits to native wildlife. Its fruit is a valuable source of nutrients for many bird species and it is a great host plant for native pollinators. In choosing this cultivar, called “Green Gables” (the first of its kind on campus), Zac was conscious of how it will fit into the surrounding canopy and be resilient in this changing climate. 

The grounds team is making specific efforts to introduce trees and shrubs that can withstand longer periods between watering and are tolerant of the hotter summers we are experiencing in the Pacific Northwest. While there was no formal ceremony, there was good chemistry at this gathering: Zac was joined in the planting process by Alan, the emeritus honoree, Randy Hicks, lab and department manager for chemistry, and Greg Dyrek, grounds technician.

We congratulate both professors on distinguished careers at Reed and look forward to the future foliage their trees will bring.

Tags: Climate, Sustainability, Environmental, Professors