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Feature Story
reed magazine logoAutumn 2009

Centennial Campaign builds momentum

Reed Buoyant Despite Slump

Despite the deepest recession since World War II, the alumni, parents, and friends of Reed supported the college at a record level last fiscal year.

That generosity was particularly striking in the Annual Fund, which raised $3,536,058 from 5,674 donors, setting a record for the fourth year in a row.

Combined with a historic $18 million bequest from author David Eddings ’54 (see In Memoriam), supporters committed a total of $31.6 million to the college in FY 2009. The Campaign total now stands at $132.9 million, or 66% of our $200 million goal.

People gave both in spite of and because of the financial crisis. “Every year around reunions time, I give a little more to Reed than I did the year before,” says D. D. Wigley ’77. “But I am giving almost triple what my little formula suggests, because times are hard. And because I love Reed!”

“I’m as crushed by the economy as everyone else,” says Xander Twombly ’87, “but feel the need to support Reed even with a token amount. My years there were some of the greatest times of my life, and I’d like to help keep this unique institution going.” Seven first-time major donors stepped forward with gifts of $75,000 or more, and 11 new scholarships were created this past year.

Aravind Sankar ’91 established the Dr. Arun and Rajammal Sankar Family Scholarship (for the most needy math and science students) in honor of his parents. Aravind transferred into Reed but stayed for four years to get the full Reed experience. “I never felt comfortable anywhere,” says Aravind, “but I finally found my place at Reed.” He cites influential teachers like David Griffiths, Les Squier, and Dell Rhodes, but also valued his fellow students. “Getting into a discussion about some reading material at two in the morning, and not being ridiculed for it—celebrating it, in fact—that was the key thing for me.”

Why now? “When the economy is contracting and more people are in need—there’s no better time,” Aravind says. “I’m not starving. There’s somebody else that can use that money much more than I can. And hopefully that will spur them on to greater things and then they can give back. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

To make a gift, or to learn about Reedís Centennial Campaign, visit

Thanks to this strong level of giving, Reed was able to protect students who might otherwise have been forced to drop out due to deteriorating family finances. Many students requested extra aid at the beginning of the year because of circumstances such as medical emergencies and parents who were laid off. In addition, as many as 15 students requested extra aid halfway through the academic term, far more than in typical years. In keeping with its policy of guaranteeing 100% of demonstrated need for all continuing students, Reed was able to accommodate these requests, providing $1 million more in aid than originally budgeted. Gifts to the Annual Fund allow the college to be nimble and respond to changing need without making drastic cuts elsewhere.

One student currently receiving financial aid was so moved by the recent New York Times article that he decided to make a gift himself. “Financial aid is essential for me being here,” says Adarsh Pyarelal ’11. “I’m pretty grateful for the aid I receive, so my gift is a token of appreciation.”

Adarsh, a student senator, enjoys the sense of community on campus and the spirit of self-governance under the honor principle. He has especially appreciated teachers such as David Griffiths and Mary James in physics.

One day, he recalls, Mary hung a heavy ball on the end of a rope, pulled the ball back to the edge of her nose and pronounced: “I believe in physics.” Then she let go. And didn’t move. The ball swung out, and back, stopping just a hair shy of her nose.

Mary James believes in the laws of physics. As long as alumni, parents, and friends believe in the transformative power of a Reed education, the college will weather the recession.

—Matt Kelly

annual fund chart
reed magazine logoAutumn 2009