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Convocation Marks 97th Year of Classes at Reed College

Entering class of 2011 will graduate in Reed’s centennial year.

diver imageColin Diver

savery imagePancho Savery

PORTLAND, OR (August 23, 2007) – Reed College President Colin Diver welcomed 397 new students—including freshmen, transfers, and exchange students—and their families at convocation ceremonies on Wednesday, August 22, 2007. The entering Class of 2011 is again the most selective in Reed’s history. The overall admission rate was 33.1 percent, down from 40 percent for the class of 2010, and down from 71 percent just six years ago for the class of 2005.

“Be prepared to surprise yourself,” said President Diver, describing Reed as a college where one must question not only accepted academic truths, but even one’s own thinking. “Always look for more evidence, better evidence,” said Diver. “Examine the arguments, the presuppositions, the unexamined premises. Put on new disciplinary lenses and look at your beliefs from a new vantage point.”

Reed’s first-year students are assigned to read Homer’s Iliad over the summer in preparation for Humanities 110, an intensive year-long interdisciplinary study of classical culture. Many begin their academic year before convocation with an off-campus odyssey—a back-country orientation trip with fellow freshmen that includes backpacking, rafting, or rock climbing. Other orientation trips focus on community service projects in education, economic development, homelessness, and the environment.

International students also arrived at Reed to begin their studies this week. They come from 22 countries—including three from India; two each from Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines, South Korea, China, and the United Kingdom; and one student each from Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.

Reed’s Peer Mentor Program organized a retreat during orientation week for freshmen who self-identify as students of color, comprising 25 percent of the non-international incoming class, or who are first-generation college students—11 percent. Founded in 2001 to help first-year students from underrepresented groups make a successful transition to college life, the program’s annual retreat provides incoming students the opportunity to pair up with returning students to get support and mentoring throughout the year.

Pancho Savery, professor of English and humanities, delivered the annual Odyssey lecture, which kicks off the Humanities 110 curriculum for freshmen. His topic was: “‘Who’s that Lady?’: Looking for Penelope.” A member of the Reed faculty has given a talk on Homer’s Odyssey at convocation each year since 1998.

Paul Marthers, dean of admission, crunched the numbers on the incoming class. He noted that the male/female ratio of the Class of 2011 is 46:54, roughly reflecting the national average for all college-goers; 11 percent of freshmen are the first in their family to attend college; and, while 25 percent of non-international students self-identify as students of color, 17 percent of incoming students chose not to report ethnicity on their applications. Marthers called this “another sign that Reed people resist categorization. The statistics tell just part of the story; statistics cannot measure the passion for learning exhibited in your applications or convey the intriguing points of view you will share in the classroom and across the dining table.”