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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


PORTLAND, OR--Colin Diver, the Charles A. Heimbold, Jr., Professor of Law and Economics and former dean at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, was elected president of Reed College by a unanimous vote of the board of trustees at its regularly scheduled meeting on Saturday, February 9. He will assume his responsibilities as the fourteenth president of the college on July 1.

Walter Mintz ’50, chairman of the Reed board, announced the decision immediately following the board meeting.

"Colin Diver is a spectacular choice to lead Reed at this time in the school's history," said Mintz. "He is a superb teacher-scholar and an acknowledged leader in American higher education; his integrity, strength of character, and commitment to intellectual openness are emblematic of the highest standards of American higher education," he continued.

Mintz went on to say that, in his opinion, Diver will become "an important voice in articulating the value of a vigorous undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, the sort of education for which Reed is famous."

Diver, 58, succeeds Peter Steinberger, dean of the faculty and Robert H. and Blanche Day Ellis Professor of Political Science, who was appointed acting president following the resignation of Reed president Steven Koblik. Koblik left last year after nine years at Reed to head the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Steinberger will return to his position as Reed's dean of the faculty.

Mintz also thanked the 16 members of the search committee, with special thanks to committee chair Stephen McCarthy ’66, for "their tireless and selfless commitment to an intensive and thorough yearlong search and for a stunning outcome." (This was a command performance for McCarthy, vice chairman of the Reed board, who chaired the search that brought Steven Koblik to the college in 1992.)

"The members of the search committee had the privilege of considering many of the most outstanding leaders in American higher education for the presidency of Reed," said McCarthy. "Colin Diver's record of inspired leadership and his ready grasp of Reed convinced us that he is eminently qualified to be a truly remarkable next president for the college."

"I believe passionately in the ideals of liberal education," said Diver on Saturday from Philadelphia. "To me, Reed embodies those ideals better than any institution I know. It is deeply humane, fiercely independent, and uncompromisingly rigorous. I can't think of a more stimulating environment in which to work and study.

"My wife, Joan, and I are also looking forward to making our home in the Pacific Northwest and becoming an integral part of the Portland community," Diver continued.

Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania, said "Colin has served Penn as a respected dean, an institutional leader, and a valued member of the faculty. While we regret losing a man of his caliber, we are pleased that he has the opportunity to lead such a prestigious institution.

"Penn's loss is Reed's gain, and we wish Colin well," Rodin said.

"Colin Diver was a superb dean at Penn Law for a decade," said Michael Fitts, current dean of the law school. "There is no better person to lead a fine institution. Colin is absolutely enthralled by Reed and excited about serving as president."

Diver, an expert in administrative law and regulation, received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Amherst College (1965), where he currently serves as a trustee, and his LL.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School (1968), where he was an editor of the Law Review. He also holds an honorary degree from Amherst.

Amherst president Tom Gerety said Diver is "an astonishingly and delightfully intellectual man, one of our very best trustees, someone who loves ideas and the arguments and differences that come with them. He will make a great president at Reed. And I relish the chance to be his colleague in this work."

Diver is the author of numerous scholarly publications, including a co-authored textbook on administrative law used in law schools throughout the country.

Upon graduating from law school, the Boston-born Diver declined an offer to join a prestigious private law firm; instead he entered public service, one of the hallmarks of a career that includes significant contributions to city and state government (1968–75) and to academia (1975 to present .

He served first as special counsel to the office of Boston mayor Kevin White and then held a series of positions in state government, including assistant secretary of consumer affairs for Massachusetts and undersecretary in the state's office for administration and finance.

His family's experiences trying to promote racial justice in Boston during the turbulent years of that city's school desegregation controversy were chronicled in Common Ground, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by New York Times journalist J. Anthony Lukas. (A trustee resolution of appreciation for Diver when he left his position as dean of the Penn Law School read, in part, "True to that book's depiction of him, he has brought to his leadership at Penn a seriousness of purpose and a rare balance of mind and heart.")

Colin Diver was dean of the Penn law school and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law from 1989 to 1999. During that time he increased and strengthened the Penn law faculty, improved the physical plant and access to technology, helped raise more than $110 million in new gifts and pledges, worked to attract some of the most able students in America and around the world, and added new programs in public service, interdisciplinary teaching and research, and clinical legal education.

Diver went to Penn after 14 years as a faculty member at Boston University School of Law, where he served as associate dean (1985–88) and dean (1988–89). He was a visiting professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and has held joint appointments in public policy at the Wharton School and the Boston University School of Management.

Diver has served as a consultant to numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Education, the New York Governor's Office of Employee Relations, and the National Training and Development Service for State and Local Government.

His extensive civic and charitable involvement includes service as trustee of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, trustee of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, member of the advisory board of the West Philadelphia Collaborative Program for Child Health, member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church vestry (Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania), chairman of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, and president of the Newton (Massachusetts) Historical Society.

Diver enjoys squash, tennis, yoga, music (especially opera), and cooking (especially baking). His wife is the director of contemplative and healing ministries at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill.

The Divers have two sons, Brad, 34, and Ned, 32. Brad, an artist and website designer, lives with his wife, Heidi Kapusta, an artist and teacher, and their one-year-old daughter, Margot, in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Ned, a graduate of the Penn Law School and candidate for a Ph.D. in philosophy at Penn, is clerking for a federal judge in Philadelphia. He and his partner, Kelly Davis, a public defender, are rehabbing a house in Center City Philadelphia.


Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, was founded in 1908 and named after Portland pioneers Simeon and Amanda Reed. The private, independent, nonsectarian, four-year college of the liberal arts and sciences has an enrollment of approximately 1,300 students and one of the most rigorous and intellectual undergraduate academic programs in the country. Reed has produced 31 Rhodes Scholars—a number exceeded by only one other small college in the country. Among liberal arts colleges it is first in the nation in production of Ph.D.s in all disciplines; among all institutions of higher learning it ranks first in life sciences, and third in science and engineering, social sciences, and all disciplines (National Research Council and National Science Foundation).

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