Inauguration of Audrey Bilger
On October 4, 2019, Audrey Bilger was formally installed as the 16th president of Reed College. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the college celebrated in jubilant style.
The inauguration and related events like the bookmark contest were inspired by the ampersand. The ampersand, which was calligraphed by Gregory MacNaughton ’89 for this occasion, originated as a ligature of the letters “e” and “t,” from the Latin word “et,” meaning “and.” The symbol, in its ability to join surrounding elements, represents the leadership of Reed College, which seeks to inspire excellence in the Reed community and beyond through collaboration, inclusion, and connection.
President Bilger was welcomed to Reed and to Oregon by the Honorable Earl Blumenauer, U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, and Justice Adrienne Nelson, Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. Greetings on behalf of Reed College were given by Pax Lloyd-Burchett ’21, President of the Student Body; Nigel J. Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty & Walter Mintz Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Studies; Hugh Porter, Vice President for College Relations; and Jinyoung Park ’11, President of the Alumni Board.
Shadab Zeest Hashmi ’95 read a poem, “To Ampersand, with Love,” that she wrote for President Bilger in honor of the occasion.
A stirring inaugural keynote address was given by Yoon Sun Lee, professor of English at Wellesley College. Yoon Sun Lee and President Bilger were colleagues at Claremont McKenna College.
There was a special guest performance by Claudia Brant, a dear friend of President Bilger and her wife, Cheryl Pawelski. Claudia performed “Sincera,” a song about inspiration, freedom, and the unique power of our fearless words from her Grammy-winning album.
A classical quartet of Aaron Mead ’22 (violin), Victoria Miller ’22 (violin), Hannah Card ’21 (viola), and Eric Mount ’19 (cello) performed “Op. 110, No. 8” by Dmitri Shostakovich.
Immediately following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a reception and dinner along with tunes by a jazz trio comprising Nolan Anderson ’20 (guitar), Nikhil Wadhwa ’19 (guitar), and Elihu Knowles ’20 (drums). Dinner led to a dance celebration as one of President Bilger's favorite bands, NRBQ, brought freewheeling fun to the Quad.
We hope that the following collection of moments conveys the joy of the occasion.