Commencement 1999

Adam Peenberg '86
Hundreds of family members and friends cheered for their graduates on commencement day, May 17. As usual, nothing stopped the smiles and happiness, not even the unseasonably cold and wet weather.

This year the highest number of the 264 graduates came from the English department, at 41; the psychology department, at 37; and the biology department, at 33. Four MALS graduates came away from commencement with new master's hoods.

Michele Funk '95, president of the alumni association, reminded grads and their families that "Graduating from Reed means that you can learn anything in a week-especially if it's the week before your thesis is due."

President Steven Koblik reassured graduates that "What you have learned here will be of enormous value as you move forward. You will always be capable of learning, of rein-venting your capacities as the challenges demand it. . . . Don't be afraid to take risks: the fun is in the challenge!"

Walter Mintz '50, chairman of the board of trustees, also addressed the audience. Reed's Collegium Musicum-a group of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends led by director Paula Creamer-provided choral music during the ceremonies.

Adam Penenberg '86, senior editor of Forbes magazine, was the youngest commencement speaker that Reed has ever had. In his spirited speech he discussed his amazement at being named the speaker and addressed history professor Ed Segel: "Hey, Ed! I guess Hell did freeze over!" An accomplished jazz musician, Penenberg revealed that he first learned about Reed from the late Max Gordon '24, owner of the famous Village Vanguard jazz club. He went on to say, "I've been a lot of places, done a lot of things, and have written for a number of brainy publications-the New York Times, Wired, Forbes Magazine. But to this day, I can honestly say I have never been in a more intellectually stimulating environment than Reed College. . . . I learned how to research, to digest mountains of material and be able to make sense of it. I learned how to structure an argument. I learned how to write. And along the way, I also learned to believe in myself. For instance, I found out I could research and write 3 research papers in 48 hours fueled only by microwaveable burritos and Mountain Dew. In short, to coin that dreaded old Reed College clich‚, I learned how to learn."

"A college can not keep up with the pace of technological change," he continued. "But liberal arts is forever."

(See the November 1998 issue of Reed for Penenberg's story about his investigation that revealed that Stephen Glass of the New Republic had been writing fraudulent stories. Penenberg gained national recognition as a result.)

Next Page
Next Page