News of the College Novemberspring2006

Reed Commencement 2006

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commencement banjo
Lucas Donahue ’06 handed President Diver a banjo and got a diploma in return. Diver also got a piÑata.

Post-graduation euphoria under the big tent in front of Eliot Hall

For once, the tent on the Great Lawn in front of Eliot Hall protected graduates and well-wishers from sun, not rain, as President Colin Diver bestowed diplomas on the 287 members of the Class of 2006. At the beginning of the ceremony—held on May 15 in 90-degree-plus heat—Reed’s Collegium Musicum sang an English glee song by Dr. Samuel Arnold (1740–1816), In summer’s cool shade. “One thing we are very good at here at Reed College,” said Diver, glancing at the blazing sun, “is wishful thinking.”

Two long-serving trustees were given honorary degrees. John D. Gray and Richard P. (Dick) Wollenberg retired as trustees in the past year and received the first honorary degrees the college has awarded in 13 years. Dick Wollenberg’s son, Richard H. (Rick) Wollenberg ’75, vice chair of Reed’s board, accepted the degree on his father’s behalf.

tamim imageTamim Ansary ’70 delivered the commencement address, “Living Your Life Story.” The Afghan-American author was catapulted to worldwide attention after 9/11, when he emailed a small circle of friends denouncing Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, but urging Americans not to retaliate by destroying Afghanistan. The email was passed on and a bicultural memoir, West of Kabul, East of New York, followed. (Ansary’s address is excerpted in the Endpaper)



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Honorary degree recipient John Gray (center), with President Diver and board chair Daniel Greenberg ’62



These were the honorary degree citations:

John D. Gray

“Gifted entrepreneur, visionary builder, devoted civic leader, enlightened philanthropist, John Gray, you embody the adventuresome ideals of this, your native state and this, your adopted college.

“After serving your nation with distinction in World War II and earning an M.B.A. from Harvard, you returned home to join a fledgling Portland chain saw manufacturer where your first chair was a nail keg. In five years you owned the company and a decade later your company had revolutionized the industry. Turning your hand to real estate development, you established a new standard for environmentally sensitive design in scenic areas such as the Oregon Coast, high desert, Columbia Gorge, and Willamette River.

“In partnership with your beloved wife, Betty, you became a passionate advocate for, and protector of, Reed College. You joined the board of trustees in 1961, later chairing the board for 15 years until 1982, when you led Reed’s first fundraising campaign. This spring you conclude 45 years as a trustee, a stewardship that has carried Reed from a time of instability to a period of unprecedented success. The Gray Fund is but one prominent example of your extraordinary generosity to Reed, inspiring the college in 1998 to name our campus center for you and Betty. Today, as a gesture of our appreciation and admiration, we extend to you Reed’s highest honor.”

gray image Richard P. (Dick) Wollenberg

“Skilled engineer, adroit manager, involved citizen, versatile musician, Dick Wollenberg, you exemplify the qualities on which this college was built—discipline, intellect, stewardship, and humanity.

“Pioneering and engineering were in your blood. Born in Alaska, where the hydroelectric project your father designed still powers much of Juneau, you moved to Washington when your father co-founded the Longview Fibre Company. You studied engineering at UC Berkeley and business at Harvard, then rose to lieutenant colonel in World War II before returning to earn your stripes at Longview. As its president, you ushered in a long period of unprecedented expansion, innovation, and prosperity.

“Business acumen is but one facet of a life ennobled as well by devotion to family, support of education, and love of music. Reed College has been a proud beneficiary of those qualities. You recognized this college as an important resource on the intellectual landscape of your cherished Pacific Northwest and devoted more than 40 years to sustaining and strengthening Reed, including a crucial decade as chairman of its board of trustees. Today, we are honored to recognize your truly historic service to the college.”