Photo: Rex Ziak
Mary James, now a Reed physics professor, was an undergraduate at Hampshire College when she first encountered David Griffiths, Howard Vollum Professor of Science, physics, in the 1970s.

"Five of us at Hampshire studied physics seriously," she says, "and we could take courses at any of four other colleges in the valley. My friend Howie Kaufman said he wasn't learning anything from his electromagnetics professor at U. Mass, but he found on reserve a set of professor's notes from the year before. These notes were so clear. Just stunningly clear. We said, 'Where is this guy? We've got to find him.' David at that time held several temporary teaching jobs in the valley. So for junior and senior years our strategy was to take whatever David was teaching, wherever."

For two decades now students at Reed, too, have known Griffiths for the clarity and quality of his lectures and for his engaging, nearly ego-less style.

"David renders himself transparent," says Robert Reynolds, a fellow physics professor, "but if it were not he doing the presenting it would be an entirely different experience."

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