The New (Olde) Reed Almanac (continued)

Philosophy: A game played with extremely high stakes, the objective of which is the discovery of its own rules. Philosophy has been taught at Reed since 1911, including a course titled Logic and College Life (which seem like totally incompatible subjects). Although all Reed students gain some exposure to the discipline through Hum 110 (q.v.), they have also had the opportunity to deepen their misunderstanding in courses such as Aesthetics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. The department has at times offered courses on both the history of philosophy and the philosophy of history. Other intriguing courses have included Social Philosophy; Philosophical and Religious Thought of India; and Minds, Brains, and Machines. Influential profs (q.v.) have included Edward Octavius Sisson [1911–43], Edwin Garlan [1946-73], Stanley Moore [1948–54], Marvin Levich [1953–94], Bill Peck [1961–2002], Robert Paul [1966–96], George Bealer [1975–90], David Reeve [1976–2001], Neil Thomason [1980–88], Mark Bedau ’76 [1991–], Mark Hinchliff ’81 [1991–], Steven Arkonovich [1998–], Paul Hovda [1992–], and Margaret Scharle [2003–].

Physical education: A field of exertion. Contrary to popular misconception, P.E. has been a mandatory part of Reed’s curriculum since the founding. Unusual courses have included cricket; captain ball; advanced exercises with Indian clubs, dumbbells, and wands; Physiology and Hygiene; Anatomy, Anthropometry and Kinesiology; Theory of Play and Playgrounds; and Playground Leadership. Influential figures have included Charles Botsford [1912–52], Dorothy Elliott [1918–30], Evelyn Hasenmayer [1930–46], Jerry Barta [1956–88], Pearl Atkinson [1959–77], Jack Scrivens [1961–99], Angela Dreher [1976–88], and Ann Casey [1990–2006].

Physics: The study of things bumping into other things, occasionally producing electricity. The range of courses offered at Reed over the years is astonishing: Theoretical Mechanics, Mathematical Physics, The Electron Theory of Matter, Signal Corps Physics, Electronics, Atomic and Nuclear Physics, Solid State Physics,  Classical Field Theory, Astrophysics, Elementary Particles; Molecular Biophysics, and Scientific Computation. Notable experiments at Reed have involved catapulting water balloons across the Great Lawn, lighting fluorescent bulbs from a distance with a Tesla coil, and placing your head in the path of a bowling ball suspended by a rope at an angle of 45 degrees. Influential profs (q.v.) have included A.A. Knowlton [1915–48], Marcus O’Day [1926–45], Ken Davis [1948–80], William Parker [1948–79], Jean Delord [1950–88], Byron Youtz [1956–68], Dennis Hoffman [1959–90], Robert Reynolds [1963–2002 and 2006-08], Nick Wheeler ’55 [1963–2010], David Griffiths [1978–2009], Richard Crandall ’69 [1978–2012], Johnny Powell [1987–], Mary James [1988–], John Essick [1993–], Darrell Schroeter ’95 [2003–05 and 2007–], and Joel Franklin ’97 [2005–].

Picts: Late Iron Age Celtic people living in what is now Scotland. Also a ferocious horde of unclad Reedies covered in blue paint. Picts are commonly found roaming campus during Renn Fayre doing battle with the notorious Copts—clothed assailants wielding squirt guns filled with orange paint. Ritual and Renn Fayre have long gone hand in hand, but signs point to Lynn Rosskamp ’95 as the progenitor of this tribe.

Political science: The study of human nature in action. By the time they graduate, poli sci majors have gained an understanding of what this entails and developed a suitable sense of despair. From the Student Handbook: “Welcome to Political Science. There’s no reading fun books written by pundits or professors of pop or whatever. You want to read Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics? Good. Only after you’ve read his Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime. This is Reed. Accessibility is for the weak.” Originally lumped in with history, poli sci spun off its own department in 1913 and has been busy plotting revolution ever since. Classic courses have included Machiavelli, Marxism, New Marxism, Hegel and Marx, Approaches to Violence, The Internet and Politics, Power and Money, Torture and Democracy, and Nuclear Politics. Influential profs (q.v.) have included Charles McKinley [1918–60], George Bernard Noble [1922–48], Maure Goldschmidt [1935–81], Frank Munk [1939–65], Kalesh Dudharkar [1959–88], Richard Frost [1960–69], Kirk Thompson [1964–71], Peter Steinberger [1973–], Stefan Kapsch [1974–2005], Darius Rejali [1989–], and Paul Gronke [2001–].

Portland: Mythical realm said to lie somewhere to the north of Steele Street.

Powell, James [prez 1988–91]: Originally a geologist, Powell arrived from Franklin and Marshall College with the goal of safeguarding Reed’s accomplishments, rather than changing its direction. Powell worked to hike faculty salaries and also created a stronger administrative presence on campus, imposing stricter policies on drugs and alcohol: no more free beer at Reed socials! However, Powell clashed with the faculty and departed to become president of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Premeteorology: Intensive one-year program set up by Army Air Corps in 1942 to relieve acute shortage of meteorologists for airborne operations in World War II. Professor A.A. Knowlton [physics 1915–48] ran the program at Reed, which was notoriously demanding. “It had nothing to do with weather,” says Lyle Jones AMP ’44. “We took math, physics, history, and humanities, all taught by Reed professors.” Premeteorology was a godsend for Reed and other colleges, which were starved of students because so many college-age men were serving in the armed forces. Federal revenues from the program helped Reed scrape through the duration.

Professors, easy: Purely theoretical category never populated at Reed.

Professors, influential: Defined in this almanac as those who taught at Reed for more than six years. We salute them for demanding more of us than we thought we could give, and showing us that we were capable of more than we knew.

Psychology: Discipline that first lost its soul, then its mind, and then consciousness. Amazingly, it gained them all back and still behaves. Psychology has deep roots at Reed and was taught from 1912, but only a handful of courses were offered until the ’40s, when interest appears to have exploded. By 1947, students could pursue courses in abnormal, social, comparative, genetic, experimental, and educational psychology. By the mid-’50s, most courses had a behavioral flavor, but the advent of Neural Basis of Behavior in 1965 and of Cognitive Psychology in 1987 heralded intellectual  diversification. Classic courses have included Sleep and Dreaming; Human Sexual Behavior; Psycholinguistics; Self-Experimentation and Self-Control; Stereotyping and Prejudice; Stress and Coping; and our all-time favorite, Problems in Psychology: Gender. Influential profs (q.v.) have included Eleanor Rowland Wembridge [1911–17], Monte Griffith [1926–54], Frederick Courts [1945–69], Leslie Squier [1953–88], Carol Creedon [1957–91], Bill Wiest [1961–95], William Devery [1963–70], Richard Katzev [1967–91], Allen Neuringer [1970–2008], Dell Rhodes [1975–2006], Daniel Reisberg [1986–], Marion Underwood [1991–98], Enriqueta Canseco-Gonzalez [1992–], Kathryn Oleson [1995–], and Jennifer Henderlong Corpus [2000–].

view larger

The Quest

Waxing wroth. Students utilize cutting-edge technology (aka razor and scissors) to lay out the Quest, 1982.

Quest, the: Beacon of press freedom, bane of administrators, fiercely independent student newspaper published more or less weekly since 1913. Named for the famous phrase of Norm Coleman (q.v.), “Comrades of the Quest,” referring to the intense camaraderie at Reed among students and professors alike. Early editions of the paper demonstrate an admirable level of journalistic skill; indeed, the Quest is the sole source for many episodes in the college’s history, since no other record remains. The first edition, for example, describes a “tong war” in which the denizens of House F repelled an invasion by House H by drenching the attackers with a three-inch fire hose “and quenched an accumulation of ardour with a well-directed stream.” In addition to reporting the news, the Quest has sometimes created the news. In 1967, for example, it ran a story about a nude “swim-in” in the gym, with a photo deemed so provocative that Dean Jack Dudman ’42 begged the editors to black it out. (They did so, but the story got out anyway.) Because of the peculiar system at Reed in which editors are elected, the quality and character of the Quest has varied dramatically over the years. One week, it reads like the New York Times. The next, like the Revolutionary Worker, the Weekly World News, and the Sellwood Bee—sometimes all at once. Nonetheless, the paper’s longevity is a testament to generations of editors who have sweated over its inky pages for nothing more than the thrill of seeing their work in print.

Quest, first editorial: Excerpt: “Our chief concern is not with bricks and stone nor with landscape architecture. The few of us who are here, teachers and students alike, are working not for the Present, nor even for ourselves, but for the Future. As Comrades of the Quest we have set out, as President Foster has expressed it, ‘to do something significant in the realm of Higher Education.’ We do not feel that our enthusiasm and purpose are commonplace or ordinary and we shall not be satisfied with mediocre results.”

Rain: Uncouth term for the meteorological phenomenon known in Oregon as “liquid sunshine.”

Reed, Amanda Wood (1832–1904): Founder of the college that bears her name. Born to a wealthy and prominent local family in Quincy, Massachusetts, the youngest of nine children, Amanda was married at 18 to an industrious young storekeeper named Simeon Reed (q.v.). They went west to seek their fortune and settled in Portland. In contrast to Simeon, who chomped cigars and swirled brandy while building a legendary fortune, Amanda loved music, sewed her own dresses, and was deeply concerned with charity and spirituality. She and Simeon joined the Unitarian church under the leadership of T.L. Eliot (q.v.) and sang in his choir. It was Eliot who encouraged them to found a college, to the fury of their heirs, who challenged the will in court and almost certainly would have prevailed but for the extraordinary efforts of Amanda’s nephew Martin Winch (q.v.). Amanda’s will mandated an “institution of learning, having as its object the increase and diffusion of practical knowledge,” but was vague on key details. Eliot and Winch later battled over the question of whether Reed should focus on the liberal arts or technical instruction.

Reed, Simeon Gannett (1830–1895): Shipping, mining, and trading tycoon who amassed the fortune that built Reed. Born in East Abington, Massachusetts, Simeon was an infant when his father died; his mother married his father’s brother, a small landholder who dabbled in lumber and flour milling. Simeon attended a local academy, learning arithmetic, penmanship, and bookkeeping, until he was 15 years old. Restless, he worked as a clerk in a dry goods store, cut shoes, and milled flour. At 18, he moved to Quincy, Massachusetts, and set up shop as a grain merchant; there he met and wooed Amanda Wood (q.v.). In 1852, he sailed for California to see if he could set up a profitable trading business, but lost many of his goods in a fire that swept the tent city of Sacramento. Undaunted, he sailed north to Oregon and eventually became a clerk for pioneer trader William Ladd. Soon he was investing in steamships, particularly the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which proved a fantastically lucrative venture. Reed branched out into mining iron ore, railroads, and real estate. The quintessential self-made man, Simeon had a quick wit, a round belly, and a knack for making friends—and deals. Fond of poker, cigars, and bourbon, he raised thoroughbred race horses and loved to hunt (he shot off two of his fingers in a hunting accident). In 1892, his kidneys failing, he and Amanda retired to Pasadena. He died of a paralytic stroke three years later. In his will, he left his fortune to Amanda and urged her to spend it on “a suitable purpose of permanent value that will contribute to the beauty of this city and the intelligence, prosperity and happiness of its inhabitants . . . all the details I leave entirely to the good judgment of my wife in which I have full confidence.”

Religion: A discipline that introduces students to the major sacred traditions of the world and demands that they go beyond small talk. Although religion was an important part of the curriculum in the first years of the college, it did not earn departmental status until 1969, despite dire prophecies from some quarters that the establishment of a department at Reed portended a disaster of biblical proportions. The apocalypse failed to materialize, however, and the department has flourished. Intriguing courses have included Classical Mythology; Egyptian Christianity; Women in Buddhism; The Qur’an; Early Chinese Cosmology and Its Ritual Response; Deep Time and Biblical Narrative; and Christian Philosophers, Poets, Historians, Magicians, and Burners of Books. Influential profs (q.v.) have included Dan Deegan [1957–69], Simon Parker [1968–75], John Staten [1969–76], John Kenney [1980–95], William Long [1982–89], Edwin Gerow [1985–96], Steve Wasserstrom [1987–], Michael Foat ’86 [1996–], Ken Brashier [1998–], and Kambiz GhaneaBassiri [2002–].

Renn Fayre: Annual bash held after theses are submitted. Organized and named by Linda G. Howard ’70 [trustee 1988–] in 1968 as the First Annual Reed College Renaissance Faire, Renn Fayre has evolved far beyond its roots to include spectacles such as bug-eating contests, parachute jumps, fireworks, water slides, and glo opera. Still, some medieval flavor persists: Renn Fayre still features a human chess game and jousting (admittedly on bicycles).

Rosenblum, Victor [prez 1968–70]: A passionate teacher, lawyer, and political scientist, Rosenblum arrived from Northwestern University with a plan to strengthen the humanities but was quickly sucked into a raging controversy over whether Reed should establish a program in black studies (q.v.). Soon after he arrived, student protestors blockaded themselves in Eliot Hall. Rosenblum was caught between the demands of students and the misgivings of senior faculty who had lived through the Stanley Moore affair (q.v.). The faculty eventually approved black studies, but student dissatisfaction remained strong. In December 1969, approximately 100 students went on a tuition strike over tenure and curriculum issues. Somehow Rosenblum managed to persuade about 60 to come back, but meanwhile many other smoldering issues had burst into flames: a chronic shortage of money; a bitter debate over “relevance” in the curriculum; changing cultural mores; and sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll generally made Reed a difficult place to govern. After Reed, Rosenblum returned to Northwestern, where he earned numerous teaching awards.

Rugby: A game played by men (and women) with odd-shaped balls. First known games at Reed took place in 1974; early players were refugees from the crew team. The sport has flourished ever since (though we’re not sure why). In particular, the women’s team, sometimes known as the Badass Sparkle Princesses, has produced several outstanding national players.

Russian: The language and literature of the greatest civilization ever known. First introduced into the Reed curriculum in 1939 with a single class on grammar. Intriguing courses have included Formalism and Structuralism, Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (in the original Russian!), Russian Symbolism and Decadence, Horror and the Sublime in Russian Culture and Literature of Destruction. Influential profs (q.v.) have included Vera Krivoshein [1949–72], Ieva Vitins [1970–77], Lena Lencek [1977–], Judson Rosengrant [1979–90], Charles Isenberg [1985–97], and Evgenii Bershtein [1999–]. Former professor Judson Rosengrant organizes popular Paideia tours to Russia for Reed alumni.

Scholz, Richard F. [prez 1921–24]: Reed’s second president took the helm when the future of the college hung by a thread. His immediate task was to restore a sense of purpose to a college shaken by war, misfortune, and friction with the community. Adamant that Reed should maintain its commitment to intellectual rigor, he balanced the academic program by requiring broad readings in the humanities for the first two years, followed by specialization in a chosen field. In this sense, he is the godfather of the Reed curriculum. He hired a cadre of iconic professors who would shape the college for generations to come. He led a fundraising campaign that eased an acute financial crisis brought on by the recession in the 1910s. Unfortunately, Scholz never got a chance to pursue many of his long-term goals. Following an appendectomy in 1923, he rose from his sickbed, against medical advice, to deal with a student rebellion over smallpox vaccinations. (See spring crisis.) This led to a series of complications and further operations from which he never recovered. After his death, students published a heartfelt tribute: “Dr. Richard Frederick Scholz, a man among men, in whom nature fused the noblest of human attributes and to whom she gave a deep sensitiveness to the full meaning of life, freely and without thought for himself, gave his life to his ideals.”

Scott, Arthur [acting prez 1942–45]: A graduate of Colby and Harvard, Scott taught chemistry at Reed from 1923 to 1979 (albeit with a gap of 11 years). He served as president during World War II, a difficult time for Reed because the war diverted so many male students into the armed forces. Nonetheless, “Scotty” led the war effort on campus and was pivotal in the development of Reed’s nuclear reactor. On his 75th birthday, the chemistry department gave him a blue three-speed bicycle. Scotty had never ridden one before, but gamely mounted the saddle and proceeded to pedal. “A little wobbly, but not too bad for a beginner,” said one student. The bike—and the chemistry building now named for him—testify to the community’s enduring affection.