Letter from the Alumni President


“Eye of the Tiger” in the library, Gilbert and Sullivan, formals, the House F Owl, Nitrogen Day, Epistemology Forever, Canyon Day, Chem for Pyros, folk dancing, River Day, Friday at Four, Thesis Parade.

At Reed, there is a saying: If it happens once, it’s a tradition.

Some of these traditions are recognizable today and some would be familiar to the Reed class of 1915. (As I write this, I wonder what traditions the class of 2019 will invent.) The Reed College Alumni Association is a tradition created by the class of 1915, and this year we celebrate its 100th anniversary. Its purpose is:

to foster the continuing welfare of both the college and its alumni by promoting mutually beneficial interaction and a sense of community among alumni and between the college and its alumni.

But what does that mean? How does that happen? How did we get here?

A common thread that joins us all when we become, in the words of Reed’s founding president William Trufant Foster, “Comrades of the Quest,” is the belief among those who have come before us in the potential of the next generation of Reed and Reedies. You see it in Amanda Reed’s will establishing Reed, in the admissions volunteer who interviews prospective students, in the Loyal Owl who makes a donation every year, in the alumni who welcome recent graduates into the fold.

Building on Amanda Reed’s generosity, the alumni association came into being with the adoption of the constitution by the first graduating class of Reed—the class of 1915. Four years later, the alumni welfare committee writes to alumni: “Now as to what all of us as Alumni can be doing.” 

In the first organizing of the alumni association you see the idea that carries through to today—that it is our special opportunity as alumni to support Reed and Reedies so that each class can create its own Reed and its own traditions. 

Today Reed alumni, to quote that report from 1919, show their “interest and belief in the future of Reed College” and a “sense of community” in numerous ways. The volunteers of Alumni Fundraising for Reed give their time and resources to create more opportunities for Reed. The Reed Career Alliance connects students with alumni mentors in similar fields, Outreach Committee brings us together across the globe and helps other Reedies figure out how to connect, our Chapter Cities and  Reunions volunteers reminds us all that we are certainly more interesting when all in one place. 

That spirit is there when as a student you connect with an alumnus who helps you get a job, access research, takes an informational interview with you. And it is there in the tremendous feeling of honor when as an alumnus you receive that call from a current student asking for your help.  

Our opportunity as students is to make our own Reed. And our privilege as alumni is to support each other and each generation of Reed. Olde Reed creating New Reed—a tradition started by the class of 1915.

To participate in the tradition of volunteerism, please contact Todd Hesse at hesset@reed.edu or 503/777-7215.

By Kristen Earl ’05