Reed Magazine February 2004 next page

building's window pictureAN ORAL HISTORY OF REED COLLEGE

As the college approaches its 100th anniversary, Reed’s alumni association has begun documenting the life of the college through an extensive oral history project. Volunteers plan to interview 250 selected alumni, faculty, staff members, and friends of Reed over a ten-year period, with an initial focus on those affiliated with the college before 1960. Oral historians are documenting the on-campus raspberry farm, the honor principle, elaborate Gilbert and Sullivan productions, the antics of the Doyle Owl, the humanities requirement, Canyon Day activities, long commutes by day-dodgers, dormitory life, and inspiring teachers and dedicated students. Reed plans to share excerpts from these interviews on these pages of the magazine.


George Joseph ’51
George Joseph ’51* entered Reed as a transfer student and majored in history. He went on to earn a J.D. at the University of Chicago Law School in 1955 and an LL.M. at New York University Law School in 1959. After clerking for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Hon. George Rossman, he taught in the law schools at Ohio Northwestern University, Dickinson, New York University, and the University of Arkansas; he was a part-time professor at the Northwestern College of Law (Lewis & Clark College). From 1963 to 1966 he was a deputy district attorney for Multnomah County, then worked in private practice until 1975, when he was appointed Multnomah County counsel. In 1977 Oregon governor Bob Straub appointed him to the Oregon Court of Appeals, where he was named chief judge in 1981. He retired from the court in 1992. Joseph was honored for his outstanding legal career by awards of merit from the Oregon State and Multnomah Bar Associations. He received Reed’s Foster-Scholz Club distinguished service award in 2001. This interview was conducted by Becky Chiao ’85 in August 2001; George Joseph died June 23, 2003, of respiratory failure due to complications from polio. Excerpts from his interview follow.

Reedspeak: a unique characteristic

As a prospective student George Joseph remembers being interviewed by Dorothy Johansen ’33, “a one-woman admission committee,” and learned that he was in charge of his own success. “I thought then (and I think now): perfect, absolutely perfect. This is the place for me.” He found that faculty and students at Reed differed remarkably from those he had encountered in other academic institutions. At Reed one learned for the sake of learning—not to achieve success as a test-taker or to create a smooth career path after college. Learning was characterized by discussions that moved from the classroom to the coffee shop and even to the “coffee shop extension,” the bookstore. “Talk was what we did at Reed. We talked at lunch, we talked at breakfast, we talked at dinner, we talked in the evening. We had a lot of reading to do. But we talked very little about trivia or what we would have thought of as trivia. We talked about important things; we had important fish to fry.”

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Reed Magazine February 2004