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reed magazine logoAutumn 2009

Convocation 2009


On a brilliant, sweltering August afternoon, as the final stirring cadence of John’s Stanley’s Trumpet Voluntary echoed into anticipatory silence, President Colin Diver convoked Reed’s ninety-eighth entering class with this memorable welcome:

“[What you’ll find at Reed] is the spirit of intellectual adventure that infused this college from its founding. You will tap into traditions that are among the most durable and distinctive in American higher education. Humanities 110; junior qualifying examinations; senior thesis; the Doyle owl; Renn Fayre; and T-shirts that proclaim the creed that generations of Reed students have embraced: Capitalism, Faith, and Sexual Abstinence. Or something like that. . .

“Reed College was founded during one of the most momentous periods of recent history. In the arts and literature, the soft contours of romanticism were giving way to the jagged edges of modernism. In technology, the harnessing of electricity and radio waves ushered in a new era in communication; while the internal combustion engine revolutionized transportation and launched a century-long addiction to oil. Agrarian societies were rapidly disappearing in the march of urbanization. Colonial empires were crumbling everywhere. And social collectivization was sowing the seeds of state socialism, and producing military machines that would soon unleash terrifying destructive forces. . .

“Whether the current age will indeed prove to be a period of transformation as momentous as the early Twentieth Century remains to be judged by history. But you will live that history. And we can predict at least one thing with confidence: as it unfolds, that history will sweep you along on powerful and unpredictable currents. Maintaining a sense of personal agency will require from you a remarkable degree of skill and wisdom. You will need perceptual acuity, methodological flexibility, investigative rigor, and intellectual discipline of the highest order. That, in a nutshell, is why you are here. For nearly a century, Reed College has equipped young men and women to embrace change and to shape change, rather than to be overwhelmed by it. This is what we offer to you, beginning here, beginning now. Now all you have to do is grasp it.”

For the full text of President Diver’s address, see

The Sound of Cells Dividing


Cellular, by Gerri Ondrizek

Reed art professor Gerri Ondrizek’s installation for the Western Gallery at Western Washington University, The Sound of Cells Dividing, intimately explores the nuances of cellular development and division. For her piece Cellular, she worked with Reed biology professor Steve Black to capture three-dimensional images of a cell dividing on a stereomicroscope. She compiled these images and projected the resulting film loop onto a semitranslucent screen. For Sound Wall, she used an atomic force microscope, courtesy of UCLA biophysicist Andrew Pelling. This microscope is used to “feel” the vibrations of cells; when these vibrations are translated into sound, the disparity between healthy and diseased cells becomes apparent to the listener. Sound Wall is comprised of three cells—in both the biological and architectural sense of the word—constructed of handmade palm-leaf paper and held in place by aluminum frames, through which various sounds are transmitted via speakers embedded in the paper. “Both works rely on physical interaction,” she writes. “These are performance spaces for viewers to listen, touch and occupy in order to understand the relationship between our senses, internally and externally.”

—Alix Vollum ’12

juggler at Canyon Day

An Apple in the Air.

Bio major Nathaniel Raley ’12 takes a break from planting saplings on Canyon Day to practice his juggling skills. For more images, see

Photo by Leslie A. Zukor ’10

reed magazine logoAutumn 2009