CSO Of The Week: George Ebner
Where are you from?
I’m a first generation German immigrant, and I was nationalized at nine. I was raised in Maryland farm country. That was about as close to an ideal environment for children as you get. Now it’s all subdivisions, sadly. Back when I flew planes, I got to fly right over where I grew up. I lived in Surprise, Arizona for a while, and now I live in Boring, Oregon, which is funny. Life is really good here. I raise eighteen hens, and one rooster, who makes a point to crow at 4:30 AM every morning. They all have their own personalities, some are affectionate, and some won’t come near you. I also keep bees.
You keep bees?
Yeah. After keeping bees for a while, you see that bees are more intelligent than you are. When you smoke the hive, you can get the honey from beehives, and the bees just chill. They feel right at home when you smoke them, and there will be dozens of them sitting on your arms and they won’t sting you. It’s really cool.
So you used to fly planes?
Yeah, I was a licensed pilot when I was twenty-eight. But flying was too dangerous: commercial aviation is a lot safer than flying personal planes. A lot of the airports you fly into are just a strip of dirt, or had no control tower, and there’s really poor communication between planes and the ground. Even if you don’t make a mistake, somebody else’s mistake could kill you. So I voluntarily gave up my license. My wife was happy about that. Of course, we still go whitewater rafting with our kids and our grand kids and we go cross country skiing, so we stay active.
Sounds like it. What did you do before you were a pilot?
I was a police officer in Silver Spring, Maryland, that wasn’t a very good neighborhood. You see things that you wish you didn’t see. I was on my local rescue squad for five years before that. I left law enforcement and re-joined my fathers’ construction company. After that I moved to Phoenix and was a builder on my own for five years.
What did you do after that?
Well, I got my Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix at age forty. I wrote my thesis about a local neighborhood enhancement program, which is when you work with members of a community to try to improve the appearance of neighborhoods and bring them up to code using existing resources. You work alongside police, fire, social services, public works and other departments to make improvements. After I got that degree, I worked as a stockbroker and as a financial planner for Merrill Lynch. The way people feel about their work and the high degree of competence I saw there is paralleled only by Reed.
What made you want to be a CSO?
Well, I was at the point in my life where I was able to do what I wanted, and the job description piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know what campus life was like, so I visited and sat on a bench at the Library main entrance, and just observed people. After listening to people talk and interact, I sensed that it was a close-knit community. I knew that I would love to work at Reed. The students reminded me of my kids, well, my kids are thirty now, so more like my kids ten years ago.
What’s your favorite thing about Reed?
It has to be the students. People here are awesome, whether you talk about the president to the students to Building Services. As a CSO you get to interact with students who are respectful, kind, sometimes even apologetic.
In my job, you get to talk to students a lot, and their background- wow. You should profile students. There are a few people here who have done things that are really incredible. I don’t mean to gush, but this is how I feel, I really love the Reed student body. They’re people I can relate to.
One last question: What’s your favorite item from Commons?
The Soup of the Day. I like that. You can tell it’s made fresh. But what I really like about Commons is that student, staff, and faculty all come together to eat there. I sometimes see students who I’ve met before, and sometimes they’ll even sit and eat with me. When that happens, it’s an honor.