Colin S. Diver is Reed’s new president

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Colin Diver pictureOn February 9 the Reed College board of trustees unanimously accepted the recommendation of the presidential search committee and elected Colin S. Diver as the fourteenth president of Reed. He and his wife, Joan, will move to Portland this June from Philadelphia, where he is currently the Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Professor of Law and Economics and former dean at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

"Colin is an astonishingly and delightfully intellectual man, someone who loves ideas and the arguments and differences that come with them. He will make a great president at Reed.”
Tom Gerety, president, Amherst College

Diver, 58, will assume his new responsibilities on July 1, succeeding 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.

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 search committee chair Stephen McCarthy ’66, who also chaired the search that brought Steven Koblik to Reed in 1992. “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.”

The Reed College faculty unanimously passed a resolution on February 11 enthusiastically welcoming Colin Diver as president. The resolution went on to say that the faculty “looks forward to working together with him in a positive and fruitful way to carry forward the values and mission of the college.” It also congratulated members of the search committee for “the successful conclusion of their arduous labors.”

Fun Facts:

Colin Diver is the fourth Amherst College alumnus to become president of Reed. The others were Dexter Keezer, Duncan Ballantine, and Paul Bragdon, the longest-serving president in the history of Reed.

Diver currently serves on the Amherst board of trustees, and Bragdon is a former member of the Amherst board. In addition, former Reed president Peter Odegard was previously a member of the Amherst faculty. Colin Diver is the third lawyer to be president of Reed. The two others are Victor Rosenblum, who came from and returned to the Northwestern law faculty after his presidency, and Paul Bragdon, who was educated at Yale law school.

In a message emailed to the Reed faculty, Diver wrote, “Joan and I appreciate, more than perhaps you can imagine, the warmth of your welcome and the many calls and email messages we have received during the past week. With each passing day we feel more fortunate that this opportunity has come our way and more eager to embrace this new passage of our lives.

“Since my appointment was announced,” he wrote, “I have received congratulatory comments from friends and colleagues around the country. What is so striking about those comments is the admiration, almost reverence, so many people feel for Reed College. My interlocutors have variously described Reed as “an amazing place,” “the best value-added in American education,” “a school that has stuck to its principles,” “the embodiment of liberal educational ideals,” and, simply, “a treasure!” You, my new colleagues, know all those things, but it’s awfully nice to know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“So, as I contemplate the opportunities and challenges of the presidency, I start with my own version of the Hippocratic Oath: ‘First, don’t screw it up. Second, make it even better. Third, have fun.’

“I so look forward to working with Peter Steinberger, as dean of the faculty and resident expert on what it’s really like to be president, and with all of you over the coming years, to make Reed . . . well, Reed. Only, even more so.”

“There is no better person to lead a fine institution. Colin is absolutely enthralled by Reed and excited about serving as president.”
Michael Fitts, dean, Penn Law School

Diver coupleDiver received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Amherst College (1965), and his L.L.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School (1968), where he was an editor of the Law Review. 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.

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.

“Colin has served Penn as a respected dean, an institutional leader, and a valued member of the faculty. Penn’s loss is Reed’s gain.”
Judith Rodin, president, University of Pennsylvania

Diver is the author of numerous scholarly publications, including a co-authored textbook on administrative law used in law schools throughout the country. He has served as a consultant to numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 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, and a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church vestry (Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania).

Colin and Joan Diver have two sons, Brad 35, and Ned 32. Diver enjoys squash, tennis, yoga, music (especially opera), and cooking (especially baking). Joan is the director of contemplative and healing ministries at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. 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.

More information about Diver can be found at http:// An interview with the new president will appear in the November issue of Reed. End of Article


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