June 3, 2011
I am writing to inform you of my decision to retire as president of Reed College, effective at the close of next academic year, June 30, 2012. I have informed Roger Perlmutter '73, chair of the Reed board of trustees, of my intentions a year in advance so as to provide the college ample time to conduct a search for my successor.
I have loved Reed College more than any other institution for which I have worked, and I have loved being its president more than any other job I have ever held. Being a part of this extraordinary school is a rare privilege. Reed College challenges you every day, and it rewards the effort it takes to meet those challenges. It has provided to me and to my wife Joan a treasury of friendships, memories, and teachings.
But the time is approaching when I need to seek new challenges, strike out in new directions, and, yes, smell the flowers. When I came to Reed in 2002, I expressed the view that the ideal tenure for my presidency would be about ten years. Nine years later, I still hold that view. I have learned much of what Reed has to teach me, I have accomplished most of what I hoped to accomplish, and I will leave the college in superbly qualified hands to begin its second century.
The greatest blessing of this job is the extraordinary group of people with whom I have had the privilege to associate and collaborate: the college's talented and devoted faculty and staff, inquisitive and spirited students, loyal and generous alumni, engaged parents, and unfailingly supportive board of trustees. Working together, we have made remarkable progress over the past nine years, while honoring Reed's history and preserving its character. We have substantially increased student retention and graduation rates; the proportion of students living on campus; the selectivity of our admissions process; the funding for our financial aid program; the ethnic, racial, and international diversity of our student body; and the level of support for student academic success, health, and wellness. We have enriched the academic program with a new environmental studies major, additional faculty staffing, and enhanced support for faculty and student research. Perhaps dearest to my heart, we have significantly enhanced support for the performing arts, an essential component of Reed's historic mission as a beacon for liberal education in the arts, humanities, and sciences. This summer, as part of our celebration of Reed's centennial, we will break ground on an interdisciplinary, state-of-the-art performing arts building, thus realizing a dream first articulated at the college's fiftieth anniversary. This project, and indeed most of the achievements I describe, would not have been possible without the extraordinary generosity of Reed's trustees, alumni, and friends, and the tireless efforts of our development staff.
These projects and achievements are works in progress, begun before my time, continuing after it. They are all part of the ongoing, unending process of discovery, striving, and improvement that is Reed's nature. I look forward to continuing to work on these and other projects during the coming year, and then passing the baton to a successor who will lead the college in the next stage of its unfolding.
I am also eagerly looking forward to Reed's upcoming yearlong centennial celebration, which begins in earnest with an all-class reunion next week. Throughout the coming year I look forward to joining with many of you to commemorate Reed's distinctive history, celebrate its contributions to society, and savor its indefatigable spirit. Let the centennial celebration begin, and let the journey continue.
Colin S. Diver