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Kroger Takes the Helm

By Chris Lydgate '90 on July 02, 2012 01:52 PM

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Reed's new president, John Kroger, took office today and has already been spotted at strategic campus locations like Eliot Circle, commons, and the Paradox Café, leather satchel in hand.

Personally, I'm excited about Kroger's presidency for three reasons. The first is his book Convictions, a look at his career as a federal prosecutor fighting mobsters, drug kingpins, and Enron executives. It's provocative, philosophical, confessional, and a cracking good read.

The second reason is that I've now spent a couple of hours interviewing him for a forthcoming profile in Reed magazine. I won't say much more about our discussions (need to save some thunder for the piece) but I have been impressed by his intellectual range—he is equally at home discussing Aristotle and the Boston Red Sox.

The third reason is a pair of messages he wrote in the last couple of days. He sent the first one last week as he stepped down as attorney general:

June 28, 2012

As I conclude my time as attorney general, I want to thank everyone for their friendship and support. I am very proud of all that we have accomplished over the past three and a half years.

We took legal action against dozens of multinational corporations like tobacco company Philip Morris, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and big banks like Bank of America and Oppenheimer, recovering over $150 million for Oregon victims and taxpayers . . .

We created new units to protect civil rights, combat environmental crime, prosecute large drug trafficking organizations, and pursue mortgage fraud crooks. We tripled or quadrupled (depending on how you count) the number of women in Department of Justice senior management positions. We passed legislation to require, for the first time, debt collectors and banks to comply with Oregon consumer protection laws. We fought to protect the Affordable Care Act and a woman's right to choose in the courts. We blocked LNG projects that failed to comply with Oregon and federal law. And, we are the only Oregon state government agency to unilaterally cut its own budget—far beyond what the legislature asked us to do—and return $9 million in additional savings to taxpayer coffers.

I am confident Ellen Rosenblum will be an outstanding attorney general and wish her the best of luck in her new position.

Take care,

JOHN R. KROGER

This morning, just as I was reading Kroger's message as outgoing attorney general, I got another one from him as incoming president:

Dear Friends:

As you know, today is my first day as Reed's new president. As I settle in to my office in Eliot Hall, I wanted to take a moment to say hello and let you know how thrilled I am to be joining the Reed community.

Over the course of my life, I have worked for and been associated with many outstanding organizations and institutions, but I have never been more happy and more proud than today, joining you at Reed. For over 100 years, Reed has pursued an independent and courageous course, carving out a unique place in American higher education as our nation's most intellectual college. Reed possesses an unparalleled commitment to the life of the mind. For that reason, today feels like coming home.

All in all, it seems like a good omen. A prosecutor who quotes Aristotle? A politician who takes on Big Tobacco? A president who's proud of Reed's independent streak? So I say, welcome home, John Kroger. Seems like you're one of us.