News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Search: or

Press Release


Media Contact

Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Reed College has received a grant of $1,600,000 from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust in support of the renovation, enlargement, and updating of its biology building. The grant, the largest Reed has ever received from a private foundation, will pay for the construction of faculty research facilities and offices. A continuation of the collegewide effort to improve laboratory science facilities, the renovation project is expected to cost $9.6 million and begin in May 2000.

Plans for the building, originally constructed in 1959, include expanded faculty and student research laboratories, reconfigured offices and laboratories to maximize interaction between faculty and students, increased office space for the growing number of thesis students and faculty members, a 70-seat stair-stepped classroom that can accommodate lectures, and extensive data lines to facilitate further integration of computing into research and teaching.

In the past eight years, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has made grants to Reed totaling over $4.3 million, supporting the Reed library automation project, the renovation of the physics advanced laboratories, and the construction of the Arthur F. Scott Laboratory of Chemistry.

The Reed biology program

Reed’s biology program, which has earned national recognition as a model for the integration of teaching and research, has been continually expanding for over 45 years. This growth has mirrored the dramatic changes in the discipline of biology. The biology building was designed to accommodate 5 professors and less than 20 thesis students; these numbers have now more than doubled.

All Reed biology faculty members are experienced scholars, researchers, and teachers committed to the Reed tradition of mentoring students in the laboratory. They regularly receive national awards for excellence in both teaching and research, and outstanding support for their research programs: since 1987 they have received over $3.1 million in funding for research activities from nationally competitive funding sources. Since 1993, members of the biology department have published 36 scholarly papers, 22 of which were written with undergraduates. Biology professor Robert Kaplan was named the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching’s 1996-97 U.S. Baccalaureate Professor of the Year.

Among all U.S. institutions of higher education, Reed is first in the percentage of graduates who go on to earn Ph.D.s in the life sciences. Fourteen percent of Reed graduates receive degrees in biology or biochemistry and molecular biology. Out of the 1,100 biology graduates for which the college has survey data (representing almost all of its living biology graduate) almost 200 have Ph.D.s. Over half of all of Reed’s graduates in the sciences go on to work in biology and biomedical sciences as college professors, laboratory researchers, or physicians, and others pursue careers in computer science, engineering, electronics, and health administration.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created by the will of the late Melvin J. Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix, Inc. and resident of Vancouver, Washington. Murdock was an idealist who felt that science was a main source of knowledge and that knowledge was the key to resolving issues. The Trust reflects Murdock’s beliefs by providing grants to organizations that seek to strengthen the Northwest region’s cultural and educational base in creative and sustainable ways.

# # # #