About Reed College
Since its founding in 1908 as an independent undergraduate institution, Reed College has remained steadfast to one central commitment: to provide a balanced, comprehensive education in liberal arts and sciences, fulfilling the highest standards of intellectual excellence. Reed offers a liberal arts education of high quality under unusually favorable conditions, including a challenging curriculum involving wide reading, conference- and laboratory-based teaching in small groups, and a student body motivated by enthusiasm for serious intellectual work.
Reed College is an institution of higher education in the liberal arts devoted to the intrinsic value of intellectual pursuit and governed by the highest standards of scholarly practice, critical thought, and creativity. Its undergraduate program of study, leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, is demanding and intense and balances breadth of knowledge across the curriculum with depth of knowledge in a particular field of study. The goal of the Reed education is that students learn and demonstrate rigor and independence in their habits of thought, inquiry, and expression.
- The Reed education balances broad study in the various areas of human knowledge and a structured, in-depth study in an academic discipline through degree requirements established by the faculty.
- The educational program’s pedagogies are characterized by close interaction of students and faculty in an atmosphere of shared intellectual and scholarly concern and active learning. Small conference and laboratory classes are the norm, providing students the opportunity to demonstrate intellectual initiative and creative engagement.
- College-wide distribution requirements provide a foundation for all students in the assumptions, basic theoretical frameworks, techniques, and current literature of a range of academic disciplines, both humanistic and scientific.
- The program in a student’s major area of study is an intensive examination of the objects, literature, theoretical concerns, and research models characteristic of an academic discipline. Among the requirements for the major are successful performance on a junior qualifying examination, completion of a yearlong senior thesis based on original research or artistic expression, and a successful oral defense of the thesis before an interdisciplinary faculty board.
- The Reed education is distinguished by a yearlong interdisciplinary humanities course, required for every first-year student. The college further encourages interdisciplinary study through upper-division humanities courses, as well as established interdisciplinary majors representing areas of research and scholarship that span traditional disciplines.
- To ensure the highest quality education for its students, the college supports and encourages scholarly research by the faculty and the application of such scholarship throughout the teaching program.
Operating Principles of the College
Free Exchange of Ideas
The Honor Principle
No Religious Affiliation
Central Educational Mission
Activities of the Staff
No Division by Academic Ability
The Evaluation of Coursework
A Residential Community
Health and Counseling
History of the College
Reed College was founded in 1908, and its first classes were held in 1911. Reed is named for Oregon pioneers Simeon and Amanda Reed. Simeon Reed had been an entrepreneur in trade on the Columbia River; in his will he suggested that Amanda “devote some portion of my estate to benevolent objects, or to the cultivation, illustration, or development of the fine arts in the city of Portland, or to some other suitable purpose, which shall be of permanent value and contribute to the beauty of the city and to the intelligence, prosperity, and happiness of the inhabitants.” Amanda Reed followed that suggestion in her will by setting up a board of trustees to found the Reed Institute. After extensive research, the trustees of the Reed Institute made the decision to establish a college of liberal arts and sciences in Portland, with no limits other than an insistence on equality and secularism.
Reed’s first president was the visionary William Trufant Foster, who served from 1910 to 1919. He was followed by Richard F. Scholz, 1921–24; Norman F. Coleman, 1924–34; Dexter M. Keezer, 1934–42; Arthur F. Scott, 1942–45; Peter H. Odegard, 1945–48; E.B. MacNaughton, 1948–52; Duncan S. Ballantine, 1952–54; Richard H. Sullivan, 1956–67; Victor G. Rosenblum, 1968–70; Paul E. Bragdon, 1971–88; James L. Powell, 1988–91; Steven S. Koblik, 1992–2001, Colin S. Diver, 2001–12, and John Kroger, 2012–18. The current president is Audrey Bilger, who assumed the office in 2019. Reed was led by an administrative committee from 1919 to 1921 and by seven acting presidents: Frank Loxley Griffin, 1954–56; Byron L. Youtz, 1967–68; Ross B. Thompson, summer of 1968 and 1970–71; George A. Hay, 1980–81; William R. Haden, 1991–92; Peter J. Steinberger, 2001–02; and Hugh Porter, 2018–19.
Governance of the College
The affairs of the college are conducted under constitutional government. How the faculty, students, and staff participate in governance is set forth in the faculty constitution, the community constitution, and the student body constitution.
Ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the college rests with its board of trustees and president. Educational policy is the responsibility of the faculty. An elected faculty Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (CAPP) makes recommendations about curricular change to the faculty and provides advice to the president about the college budget and faculty resources. A parallel Student Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (SCAPP) works with the CAPP. An elected faculty Committee on Advancement and Tenure (CAT) makes recommendations to the president about faculty personnel matters. Many faculty committees have student members, and students may also attend regular meetings of the faculty. The advice of students is sought, particularly in the evaluation of the faculty’s classroom performance.
An elected student senate works with the faculty’s Community Affairs Committee on the nonacademic life of the college. The student body controls expenditures of student fee money through the student senate and makes appropriations that fund the budgets of most campus organizations.