Convocation 2012

President John R. Kroger

Kroger photo
John R. Kroger

Welcome, everyone, welcome to Reed. Welcome to the Reed community.

As you know, I feel like I have a special connection with the incoming class this year, and that is because, just like you, I am new to Reed. I've been president of Reed now for about 8 weeks. And in those 8 weeks, I've been sitting here just like you, trying to come to grips with what Reed means, what Reed is about. I feel like we have a special bond because at the precise moment you as students were deciding to come to Reed, I was deciding to come here as president. And so I thought I would take just a few moments to tell you why I think Reed is a really special place, why I'm really proud and happy to be here, and why I hope all of you who are new students here at Reed will be happy and proud to be Reedies as well.

In colleges and universities all over the country, people seem to care more about how their sports team do on the playing field than they do about academics in the classroom. Reed has always been very different than that. Reed has often been called the most intellectual college in America. And that's a very fitting and appropriate label. Reedies are fiercely committed to the life of the mind. People at Reed don't just study subjects, they fall in love with subjects. And their disciplines aren't just something they major in and leave behind, they become a major lens that they use to analyze and think about the world we live in.

For me, over the course of my life, there has been nothing more powerful than that feeling of intellectual reward that comes from study. And it is my very deep hope that as you sample all of the offerings that Reed has that you as students will fall in love with the subject just like I did as a college student. And that you will have the kind of rewarding experience that all of us here have had—that made us scholars—during your time at Reed.

It's not just Reed's intellectual rigor, though, that makes it such a special place. It's a particular intellectual style that Reedies have. Reedies are independent. Reedies are iconoclastic. Reedies are highly creative people. Reedies don't just read books in libraries, though they do that an awful lot of the time. They don't just spend time in labs. Reedies dance, Reedies sing, Reedies sculpt, Reedies paint, they write, they print books, they play musical instruments. And it's not just the artists or the art majors who do that, we have physicists who are poets, and we have psychologists who play the bassoon, and because of this mixture of the arts and the life of the mind, the Reed education is really like that offered by no other college in the country. It produces thinkers who are very self-critical, very imaginative, and capable when they leave Reed and go on with their careers of doing ground-breaking work that changes the world we live in.

I knew all of this about Reed before I came here, and I suspect it is because of those very virtues of intellectual rigor and creativity that you, as students, and your families, decided that this would be a great place for the next phase of your life. But over the past 8 weeks I've learned something more about Reed that I didn't know, and that this is one of the warmest, one of the kindest, one of the most welcoming institutions you could possibly imagine. There is a certain graciousness of spirit here at Reed that I found very moving. When you come here as an outsider—when you come here as someone who is new to Reed—the community welcomes you. Having chosen Reed, you become one of us and the institution wraps you in its arms.

Reed is full of people who always felt a little bit different. They come to Reed and for the first time in their lives, they feel a powerful sense of community. Here with your time at Reed I hope you have a great intellectual experience. I hope you try new things. I hope you have a creative and fulfilling series of years. But even more than that, I hope—and I expect—that you will make friends that will last you for the rest of your life. And that as I have done in the last  eight weeks, you will very quickly feel about Reed College that it is not only your college, but it is your home.

And so with that, I welcome very much all the new members of the Reed community—the students, their families. We are so happy to have you choose Reed and to join us.

Thank you very much.