Presidents of Reed

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Ross B. Thompson


Born on September 12, 1931, in San Francisco, California
Died on March 29, 1991, in Portland, Oregon

Ross B. Thompson joined Reed as financial vice president and treasurer of business affairs in 1965. Twice he served as interim president—first in 1968, during the summer between Youtz’s departure and Rosenblum’s arrival, and again for a year after Rosenblum’s resignation in 1970.

Thompson was an environmentalist and businessman whose face became well known in Portland during his second term as interim president. Reed students rented billboard space along McLoughlin Boulevard to post a photo of Thompson with the tagline, “Would you buy a used college from this man?” The students claimed to be protesting conservative control of the college, and called themselves “College in Exile.” Thompson took the joke in stride.

After leaving Reed, Thompson became more recognizable throughout Oregon. In 1977, Governor Bob Straub appointed Thompson to the Oregon Educational Coordinating Commission, where he served for eight years. Thompson also worked to negotiate the purchase of environmentally protected lands to place them in trusts, helping to protect Oregon’s wildlife in the Columbia River Gorge and in the state’s northeastern high desert areas.

Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in business administration from Stanford. After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1955 to 1958, Thompson worked for Litton Industries in California in several executive positions before coming to Reed.