Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

Class of ’15 Takes the Stage

Proud Reed grads march at commencement.

Joy reigned and jubiliation rang across the Great Lawn as 318 proud Reed graduates stepped up to the stage on Monday to receive their hard-earned diplomas at commencement.

Sporting robes and mortarboards, fancy shoes and running shoes—and accompanied in one case by an adorably enormous canine companion—the grads listened to an inspiring address from civil-rights leader Kathleen Saadat ’74.

“To live intentionally requires you to keep learning for the rest of your lives,” she said. “Building a better world requires compassion, forgiveness, immense amounts of courage, love, and delight in the process.” (Check out the audio recording.)

Bart Simpson and the Apocalypse

Apocalypse survivors reenact a Simpsons episode that revolves around cartoon villain Montgomery Burns in Anne Washburn's play. Photo by Joan Marcus

The highly-acclaimed Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, by Anne Washburn ’91, will have a regional premiere at Portland Playhouse, May 13–June 7.

The play leads us into an unlikely post-catastrophe, post-electricity future in which survivors pass the time recounting episodes from The Simpsons. As they are told, and told, and told again, these snippets from our pop culture become the stuff of epics, myths, and legends.

Prof. Peter Ksander [theatre 2012–] is scenic and lighting designer for the production. 

Linguistics Grad Wins Humanities Award

Esmeralda Herrera ’14 won a Humanity in Action fellowship to promote human rights. Matt D’Annunzio

Esmeralda "Momo" Herrera ’14 has been awarded a Humanity in Action fellowship—one of 43 U.S. students to be selected from a pool of 688 applicants at 253 colleges and universities.

Esmeralda is a first-generation American, born and raised in South Bronx, New York, who graduated from Reed with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and a strong command of the Chinese language. Currently living in Portland, she works as a student support specialist helping at-risk youths explore successful life options. In her spare time, Esmeralda conducts HIV testing at Cascade Aids, a nonprofit clinic that supports people living with HIV.

“As global citizens we all need to commit not simply to learning about the injustices of this world but being brave enough to stand against them,” Herrera says. “We need to be patient enough to listen and sincere enough to know when we are wrong. As a Latina, first-generation American from the South Bronx, I have to be ready to teach, to listen, and most importantly to love—to help not just those similar to myself but to everyone who demands and needs help.”

Reedies win grants for peace and understanding

Environmental studies-chemistry major Celebrity Nyikadzino ’17 won a $10,000 grant to help villagers in Zimbabwe lift themselves out of poverty.

Nine Reed students have won grants to pursue summer projects to promote peace and strengthen understanding.

Celebrity Nyikadzino ’17, an environmental studies-chemistry major, was selected for a Davis Projects for Peace for her project “A Step toward Hope: Education and Self Reliance.” Celebrity will be implementing the project this summer in Chivhu, her home village in Zimbabwe.

“I grew up with many talented kids by my side," she says. "Unfortunately, most of my friends had to drop out of school because they could not afford the cost of education.” Celebrity intends to use the $10,000 award to address poverty by teaching community members how to sew and also how to market and maintain a business using the finished products. Her goal is to create ways for families to have the means to return their children to school and to keep them there. “I also aim to bring my community together through cooperation in the project, and by creating a support group for sharing struggles and successes.”

Apuleius Prevails Despite Student Protest

Prof. Sonia Sabnis [classics] delivers lecture on Apuleius on steps of Vollum, while students voice protest against the Hum 110 syllabus inside. She is flanked by Prof. Michael Faletra and Prof. Steve Wasserstrom.

Student activists chalked slogans on the blackboard and engaged in a silent protest at the final Hum 110 lecture of the semester today to push for a more inclusive curriculum.

The protest posed a thorny dilemma for the lecturing professors. If you erase the blackboard, people might accuse you of censorship. But if you don't erase it, you appear—at least tacitly—to endorse the protestors' position. So Prof. Sonia Sabnis [classics], Prof. Steve Wasserstrom [religion], and Prof. Michael Faletra [English] hit on a creative solution. Following ancient tradition, they decided to hold the lecture outside, on the steps of Vollum, where they discussed the reading of the day: Apuleius and the Golden Ass.

It is somewhat paradoxical that the protest took place at a lecture on the Golden Ass, one of the most intriguing texts in the Hum 110 syllabus. Written by a North African intellectual, the story is a piercing critique of the Roman Empire in general and of slavery in particular.

The Reluctant Philosopher: Prof. Darius Rejali Brought in for Questioning

John Perry, Ken Taylor, Darius Rejali

Prof. Darius Rejali flanked by John Perry (left) and Ken Taylor (right), hosts of NPR's "Philosophy Talk."

On Thursday, April 16, at approximately 8:35 p.m. Professor of Political Science Darius Rejali followed his GPS to an industrial zone along Macadam Avenue in southwest Portland.

Rejali traded the warmth of his SUV for the damp night air. He was wearing a silver crewneck shirt, a dark brown sports jacket, jeans, and black court shoes. Combined with his windswept hair and salt-and-pepper muttonchops, he was easily marked as an academic.

He ambled toward what looked like a glass and steel warehouse. Light radiated from within the building’s core, but it became dim as it reached the foyer, which obscured the image of the man waiting for Rejali. The doors swung open and a voice pierced the darkness, “Are you here to talk about torture?”

Avengers Cut through Blue Tape

Students in Sequoia won the 2015 Blue Tape Art Competition with this mural of the Avengers. Gary Granger

While many college students fret about tangling with red tape, Reedies like to tangle with blue tape.

Last week Reed’s Grove Dorms held their fifth annual Blue Tape Art Competition, which gives students a chance to decorate their dorms and demonstrate their creativity—without making headaches for the maintenance crew.

Students in Sequoia won the competition with a vengeance— or rather with Marvel’s Avengers. This year’s winning mural for the theme of “Sci-Fi” was a sequence of panels depicting six of Marvel’s Avengers including the Hulk, Iron Man, and their leader, Capitan America.

Digital Pioneers Help Reed Design CS Program

Computing experts converge on Reed to help the college design a computer science program.

A formidable array of computing brainpower converged on campus yesterday to help Reed think through a long-awaited computer science program.

The digital elders represented a full spectrum of computing expertise: mathematicians, cryptographers, AI gurus, network wizards, codeslingers, and technology innovators, all focused on a fascinating problem—how Reed can build a computer science program that dovetails with its academic mission.

Reed has a long and proud tradition of computing, but has never had a CS department or a CS major. Courses in computing are currently offered through the math department, but students’ ravenous intellectual appetite for the subject is overtaxing the department’s resources. Since 2007, the number of students enrolled in the introductory CS course has soared from 34 to 102. The college has recently created a computer science concentration in the math department and launched a Software Design Studio to give students more hands-on coding experience.

History Major Redefines “Student Athlete”

History major John Young ’15 ran the 50K Gorge Waterfalls ultra-marathon two days after turning in his thesis draft on the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.

While most Reed seniors spent their last precious hours of spring break polishing their thesis drafts, history major John Young ’15 was performing another impressive feat.

On Friday, John turned in a 100-page draft of his thesis on the yellow fever epidemic that struck Philadelphia in 1793. On Sunday, he ran a heart-stopping 50 kilometers in the Gorge Waterfalls ultra-marathon.

This wasn’t the first time John has pushed the limits of his endurance. Last year he was the youngest runner to complete the 50-mile American River Ultramarathon, and in November he finished the Portland Marathon in 3 hours 14 minutes and 19 seconds.

From John’s own account of his achievement:

Tango Masters Tear It Up with Reed Orchestra

Tango ensemble Astillero, led by pianist Julián Peralta, performing live with students in the Reed Orchestra.

When the soundcheck wrapped up and the doors swung open, hundreds of excited music lovers swarmed inside, packing Kaul Auditorium for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Astillero, a highly influential band on the cutting edge of Argentina’s contemporary tango vanguard, spent a week at Reed visiting classes and rehearsing with the student orchestra, culminating in a performance of Soundtrack Buenos Aires on February 20. Led by pianist Julián Peralta, the band spent the evening alternately bantering with the audience in Spanish and delivering their revolutionary original music – urgent, aggressive, and bursting with rhythmic energy. By the end of the concert, the crowd was on their feet, cheering and shouting for more.

Astillero’s visit to Reed was co-sponsored by the departments of music, Spanish, political science, the office of the dean of the faculty, and the office of institutional diversity, and was made possible by donations from Christine Green, John Clark, Elizabeth Barringer, and James Richardson Clark ’14.

The event was presented by Tango for Musicians, North America’s leading tango workshop for musicians. Led by Prof. Morgan Luker [2010-present], the workshop takes place at Reed each June and attracts musicians from across the globe. It now boasts an artistic faculty coming directly from Buenos Aires that includes some of the most outstanding tango musicians and educators active today.

President’s Summer Fellows Travel the Globe

Linguistics major Knar Hovakimyan ’16 will travel to Armenia to translate contemporary poetry.

Reed is proud to announce the latest winners of the President’s Summer Fellowship: eight outstanding projects that combine intellectual pursuit, imagination, adventure, personal transformation, and service to the greater good.

Inaugurated by President John R. Kroger, with generous support from trustee Dan Greenberg ’62 and his wife, Susan Steinhauser, the fellowship attracted scores of creative proposals. The winners will be awarded $5,000 each to pursue their projects during summer 2015. Here they describe their projects in their own words.

President Kroger Seized by Owl Frenzy

President Kroger catches Owl Fever during epic struggle in the Quad.

A furious fight erupted in the Quad Friday night as scores of students struggled for possession of the Doyle Owl, a 300-lb slab of concrete statuary that has become a monumental Reed mascot, in an exuberant mêlée that eventually engulfed President John Kroger.

As rival student factions vied for victory, Kroger dodged elbows, copies of the Iliad, and overzealous rugby players to plant a hand on this remnant of Reed’s history.

The chaos began at 7 p.m., when students discovered an owl near the Reed reactor. A frantic scrum took place as students wrestled for ownership until word filtered through that the object at the center of the mayhem was actually a decoy—one of two fakes planted to maximize confusion.

Senior wins Watson Fellowship to study coral reefs

Environmental studies-history major Rennie Meyers ’15 has won a Watson Fellowship to pursue a year of independent study after graduation. Photo By Chris Lydgate

Environmental studies-history major Rennie Meyers ’15 has won a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the formation of artificial coral reefs.

Rennie's project is titled Deep Water, Horizons: Artificial Reef Communities, Above and Below the Water Line and she will pursue it in the Canary Islands, Fiji, Brunei, and Japan.

"From oil rigs to submerged eco-art to coral farms, coral growth occurs at the hands of humans with or without their intent," her proposal states. "By exploring interactions between human and non-human communities above and below artificial coral habitats in four island nations, I will engage artificial or anthropogenic reef habitats and the humans who have (sometimes accidentally) created and lived with them. I hope to better understand the ways in which humans continue to alter the marine landscape, to photo document those landscapes, and to consult with the human communities responsible for these new habitats in the face of global climate change."

Student wins Watson to report on Soviet ruins

History/lit major Sasha Peters ’15 won a Watson Fellowship to explore ruins in the former Soviet sphere. Photo by Chris Lydgate

History/literature major Sasha Peters ’15 won a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to explore abandoned sites and cities in the Soviet sphere through the medium of radio.

Sasha's project is titled Radio in the Ruins and will take her to Latvia, Czech Republic, Poland, Norway, Bulgaria, and Germany. "The Soviet Union and its influence produced an impressive array of buildings, monuments, and sites that embodied communist ideology," her proposal states. "After the Soviet Union’s fall, many of these places became inessential or unsupportable and were abandoned. Some of those places, decaying as they are, remain today. For my Watson year, I will travel to ruins in the Soviet sphere and make radio pieces about each of them. I aim to encapsulate the rich histories and eerie beauty of these ruins with sound."

Her friend Rennie Meyers ’15 also won a Watson Fellowship.

Two Reedies Win Watsons

Reed students Watson Fellows.

Reed students Sasha Peters and Rennie Meyers won Watson Fellowships to pursue a year of independent study after graduation. Photos by Chris Lydgate

We're thrilled to announce that two Reed seniors have won Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for purposeful, independent study outside the United States.

Environmental studies-history major Rennie Meyers ’15 won a fellowship to study the formation of artificial coral reefs and history/literature major Sasha Peters ’15 won a fellowship to explore abandoned sites and cities in the Soviet sphere through the medium of radio.

Coral Reefs

Class of 2014 Begins Quest for World Domination

Snapshot of the class of 2014 six months after graduation, based on a study by the Center for Life Beyond Reed. The knowledge rate for the survey is 85%; in other words, the destinations of 15% of the class remain unknown.

Like wildflower seeds on the wind, the class of 2014 has dispersed to the far reaches of the globe in search of work and opportunity.

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Life Beyond Reed (CLBR) six months after graduation, of those who responded that finding a job was their primary destination, 76% had found full-time or part-time employment, 10% were in grad school, and 4% were doing service work such as AmeriCorps.

Their activities span everything from monitoring human rights in Mexico, to working in the district attorney’s office in Portland, to promoting sustainable textiles in Tibet. More than 30 are doing research of one kind or another and about two dozen are teaching or tutoring.

Reed Alumni Go to Hell

Dante Alighieri, author of the towering Inferno.

President John Kroger and Reed alumni gathered in Prexy last week to discuss a burning issue—Dante’s Inferno.

Balancing copies of the Divine Comedy and glasses of wine, alumni listened intently as President Kroger shared his thoughts about this 14th-century masterpiece of allegorical verse.

Like many Reedies, Kroger read the Inferno in college. (It's currently on the syllabus for Hum 210.) Recently, however, he committed some leisure time to exploring not just Inferno but its two lesser-known companions, the Purgatorio and the Paradiso.

Reed Arts Week (RAW) 2015: <i>Might Now</i>

Students gather at the RAW banquet/theme reveal Image by Jade Novarino '16

This year, Reed Arts Week (RAW), March 3–8, takes a turn for the understated and the peculiar, with the highlight of the opening exhibition being a fist-sized rock. The rock displays a smiley face on its surface, and its owner is attempting to sell it for $1 million on eBay, despite never having received a bid.

Other installations include a camera obscura inside Vollum lounge, which uses vibrations from Eliot Circle to create a subdued shadow world, and captures students walking to class in the form of indistinct silhouettes.

The Gray Campus Center features a “quiet room,” or traceless environment; the space is light and soundproof, completely cut off from the rest of campus. The intent of the room is to give students an experience of being entirely solitary, while still in the heart of campus. The sports center is home to the opposite effect, with an audio system set up in the racquetball courts that records the sound in the room and then plays it back a minute later, simultaneously with all of the sound that has been recorded previously. The cacophony will increase relentlessly throughout the week, resulting in a complete audio record of the room during RAW.

Theatre Major Goes down the Rabbit Hole

Thesis production "Here, Now" by Marisa Kanai ’15 is an interactive performance with an "audience" of two. Here the enigmatic Rabbit offers tea to a member of the audience. Fiona Wiedermann

I’m standing in the middle of an old-fashioned living room, surrounded by empty suitcases, tea cups, overflowing bookshelves, and a Twister mat, attempting to communicate with a dapper rabbit brandishing a tennis racket.

This could only happen at Reed—to be precise, onstage at Here, Now, a remarkable thesis production by theatre major Marisa Kanai ’15, which is performed for only two audience members at a time.

Marisa is working with her faculty adviser, Prof. Peter Ksander [theatre 2011–], to explore immersive environments and interactivity in performance, inviting the audience to engage in an intimate relationship with the actors, the space, and the content of the event itself.

Reed's Prince of Fashion Makes Splash at Art Museum

Reed College grad Pucci at his work table surrounded by hanging garments.

Thinker, tailor, soldier, spy. Emilio Pucci '37 at work.

You may associate Reedies with conspicuous non-consumption, yet we have cut a distinctive swath (both high and low) in the fashion world, with none more celebrated than Emilio Pucci MA ’37. After graduating from Reed, the legendary fashion designer led a fascinating life of international intrigue and was tortured by Nazi interrogators. His original designs are included in the exhibition Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 showing at the Portland Art Museum through May 3, 2015.

Italian Style documents Italy’s dramatic transition from post-war devastation to burgeoning industry. Sumptuous displays include more than 100 ensembles and accessories created by leading Italian fashion houses, including Pucci, Valentino, Gucci, Missoni, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Prada, and Versace. As Emilio Pucci propelled Reed into the world of alpine sport, as founder of the college ski team, his breathtaking designs propelled Italian fashion onto the world stage.

For its presentation in Portland, the only West Coast venue, the museum has organized a variety of programs for the general public, as well as a private tour for alumni led by docent Nancy Johannsen Morrice ’78 in April (see details). In addition, Reed students are eligible for a $5 discount (show your ID at the box office). Reed alumni, staff, and faculty are eligible for a $5 discount by using the code REED when purchasing a ticket online

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