Eliot Circular

100 Years of Greatness

Photos by Leah Nash

Portland descends on campus to celebrate Reed's centennial.

By Anna Mann

Reed celebrated 100 years in September with a gargantuan party, complete with dancers, drummers, jugglers, mad scientists, and a massive chorus reciting lines from the Iliad in Greek.

Alumni, professors, and students strode to the podium to talk about how Reed changed their lives. “Reed taught me that the root of genius is passion,” said ecologist Sasha Kramer ’99. “I was lucky to meet so many passionate geniuses at Reed.”

Kramer wrote her thesis on the nitrogen cycle with David Dalton [biology 1987–] and later founded a nonprofit in Haiti that builds outhouses that convert human waste into fertilizer. Her pioneering work inspired economics senior Molly Case ’12 to write her thesis about the economics of nonprofit agriculture in developing nations.

“This is a place where anything can happen,” Case said, her voice quavering with emotion. “The Reed community is not just bounded by campus. It stretches across the globe and spans the generations.”

President Colin Diver declared that Reed is not just about academic rigor, but also about gaining transformative skills.

“For 100 years Reed has been synonymous with rigorous training,” he said. “Reedies read voraciously, argue endlessly, debate vigorously, master complex analysis and intricate argument. Yes, when those silly websites do rankings on ‘Colleges that Kick Academic Butt,’ Reed will always be at the top of the list. But what is less appreciated is that Reed has also become synonymous with the practice of transformative skills: the ability to approach problems in nonroutine ways using analogy and metaphor; conditional and abductive reasoning; taking initiative in the face of ambiguity. This is a description of what we do at Reed every day.”

President Diver invited the audience to join him in invoking the Muse to guide Reed through the next century. Together, students and alumni chanted the Iliad’s haunting first line, Menin aeide thea Peleiadeo Achileos (Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus)—a fitting start to the next 100 years.

The celebration continued through the weekend, as thousands of Portlanders flocked to campus. Reed held its first ever 5K Odyssey Run, won by chem major Paul Whittredge ’12 in 17 minutes 5 seconds. (Registration fees benefitted local public schools Duniway, Grout, Lewis, and Woodstock). The Quad echoed with the beat of Taiko drummers while students demonstrated experiments with liquid nitrogen on the SU porch. A ceremonial English walnut tree was planted in the restored orchard in the Canyon while students squeezed cider from a bicycle-powered apple press. Other highlights included Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, a bluegrass band, a performance of Iphigenia in Tauris, and fireworks. If that weren’t enough, Oregon Public Broadcasting aired an hourlong documentary about Reed for its Oregon Experience series in October.

For more photos and information about the centennial, see centennial.reed.edu.