Amid the call of bagpipes and the flourish of horns, roughly 1,500 people descended on campus on Friday to welcome John R. Kroger as Reed's 15th president. Under the big top on the great lawn, Roger Perlmutter '73, chair of the board of trustees, invested Kroger with the trappings of office—including a copy of the Iliad and a bottle of spring water drawn from the Reed Canyon—in a grand inauguration ceremony.
Student body president Brian Moore '13 hailed Kroger as "the ultimate prospie" for his infectious enthusiasm for all things Reed and for enrolling in Hum 110.
Reed's presidential history, like that of the college itself, is a history of paradoxes.
This was the argument of trustee and historian John Sheehy '82 in his lecture "The Presidents of Reed" at Reunions 2012. The central paradox of Reed, he said, is the combination of academic conservatism with cultural progressivism. This has given birth over the years to such quandaries as Reed's historically high attrition rate (as students struggled to impose the self-discipline required for intellectual freedom) to ongoing debates like faculty pay equity or marijuana use on campus.
These conflicts, though, have by no means held Reed back. Instead, Sheehy said, "the only way to move forward was to work within the paradoxes." The Honor Principle was one example of this, occupying the "middle ground" between rules and anarchy. In the end, it has been how well each president has embraced the Reed paradox that has determined his success.