NOAA August 2004

Holly Gudmundson Leighton ’78 A message from the alumni association president

The noble experiment

by Holly Gudmundson Leighton ’78

I was recently on campus for Reunions and went up to the thesis tower in the library to look around. I was surprised to see that there seemed to be twice the number of theses there than when I graduated in 1978 (I’m not THAT old, am I?). But more than that, the thesis tower is a reservoir of the knowledge, the opportunity, the incredible achievement that symbolizes what President Colin Diver calls the “noble experiment” that is Reed. As I always do in the thesis tower, I thumbed through my thesis on the novels of Raymond Queneau. This year, though,I actually read a bit of the conclusion, and, quite honestly, I was impressed.

The thesis also represents a tradition at Reed, one that is becoming increasingly rare at our sister liberal arts colleges. Reed is not just about buildings, books, Hum conferences, and socials—it’s about tradition. One of those traditions is featured in this issue of Reed, Reedies working to change the world around them.

Keeping the Reed tradition going also costs money.

Let me tell you the story of two alumnae and the different ways in which they contribute. One of them is yours truly. I have been an irregular donor over the years because I thought I had to give a certain amount for it to make a difference. I sent in checks when I could, but there were many years I didn’t contribute. Due primarily to my increased involvement with Reed, I have decided to do my part financially to ensure that someone else can look at their thesis in 26 years and realize what an important part of their life the Reed education has been. I have designated Reed as a beneficiary in my will and have set up a quarterly contribution.


Barbara Pijan Lama ’79, my freshman roommate, is a single mom in graduate school, works part-time, and doesn’t have much extra money. But she told me she gladly sends in $10 every year with a note offering her “abundant good wishes” to help maintain the high caliber of the Reed education.

Does it matter whether you give $10 or $100? Not really. What matters is that alumni acknowledge the value that Reed has had in their lives and choose to ensure that the tradition of Reed as a purveyor of an unparalleled liberal arts education continues. Why do I contribute? To keep the “noble experiment” alive. End of Article

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Reed Magazine August

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