Alumnus Jim Kahan ’64 “Paideiagate” Analysis


Alumni response to January 2013’s “Paideiagate” has been articulate and emphatic, including the resignation of alumni board director Jessica Benjamin ’93, a challenge to a public debate from Bear Wilner-Nugent ’95 and an analysis and recommendation from Jim Kahan, a former RAND corporation analyst and prominent alumnus. Among other things, Kahan was the 2005 commencement speaker, is the founding chair of the Dorothy Johansen Society for the History of Reed College, has led “alumni college” at Reunions since 2010, is current chair of the Foster-Scholz club for older alumni and received the Jean Babson Society Award for service to the college in 2011.

In the executive summary to “Beyond Paideiagate: An Analysis-Based Recommendation for Going Forward” Kahan frames the issue and one possible solution.

Reed College President John R. Kroger abruptly in January 2013 cancelled two Paideia classes and demanded changes to two others. All four of these classes dealt in one way or another with alcohol or other drugs. Reactions to this action have ranged widely. Some fully support Kroger. Others have called for his resignation or firing. Yet others have called for a boycott of alumni financial support for Reed during Kroger’s tenure. And a small minority has disengaged from the Reed community.

This document presents an analysis of the events that have come to be called “Paideiagate.”

For those not familiar, president John Kroger unilaterally “censored” portions of this January’s Paideia program and only partially justified his actions before the student body. Download the full PDF of Kahan’s analysis and recommendation as Kahan201302PaideiagateAnalysisRecommendation.pdf

About Rory Bowman '90

Rory Bowman, Reed alumnus in philosophy, 1990.
This entry was posted in January Paideia, Paideia History, Strategic Planning. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Alumnus Jim Kahan ’64 “Paideiagate” Analysis

  1. Unless Paideia has changed significantly since its inception (in, I believe 1969), it is not a faculty run part of the curriculum. It was designed to be “unstructured individual study,” based on the idea that our academic lives were so rigorous and time consuming that we needed a break to dabble in other interests in a more free form setting. From my experience, mostly students and alum have offered the courses. Since graduating, I have taught jazz guitar and also creative writing at Paideia. I recall coordinating with only one program administrator to whom I sent my syllabus, and who assigned the room and the time for the class. There was no vetting that I know about.
    During the first Paideia, while I was still a student, I took on a teaching role that was unorthodox, but it was not publicly announced. I had only one student. It was his senior year and he was, lamentably, still a virgin, so I charitably provided him one (or two?) weeks of “sex lessons” as my contribution to “unstructured individual study.” He was a diligent student who later became a good husband (to somebody else) and a good father. I bet he’s glad our “class” wasn’t censored. (And, since he paid no “tuition,” there was nothing illegal about it.) I thought it might be helpful to reveal how this Reedie interpreted Paideia at its inception.

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