Mission statement

Approved by the Reed College Board of Trustees on June 22, 2008

The mission of Reed College

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 Reed College

  1. The educational mission of the College requires the freest exchange and most open discussion of ideas. The use of censorship or intimidation is intolerable in such a community.
  2. All members of the College community, including students, faculty, and staff, are governed by an honor principle, which emphasizes personal responsibility and mutual respect in the conduct of one’s affairs.
  3. Because the College fosters and defends academic freedom, it avoids taking positions on political issues that do not directly affect the fulfillment of its educational mission.
  4. The College has no religious affiliation and maintains neutrality regarding religions and religious practices.
  5. Any post-baccalaureate educational program that the College chooses to offer must be consistent with and supportive of the College’s central educational mission.
  6. Reed is by design a small college that values opportunities for in-depth and sustained academic exploration and the development of close professional relationships among students, faculty, and staff.
  7. The activities of the staff are essential to the well-being of the institution, and, in areas related to the educational program, the staff supports and advances the pursuit of the College’s academic goals.
  8. Students are not divided by academic ability or promise, and there are neither “honors” degrees nor other such programs.
  9. Each student works with a faculty advisor, who helps plan a course of study that is consistent with the student’s academic goals and that meets the distribution and major requirements. Faculty advisors also provide evaluation and advice related to the student’s performance.
  10. Instructors provide students with frequent and substantive evaluation of their performance in order to promote student intellectual growth. Although grades are recorded for all classes, they are not routinely reported to students.
  11. The affairs of the College are conducted under constitutional government that accords primary governing responsibility to faculty, students, and staff within their appropriate spheres, and encourages collaboration and cooperation among all constituents in the development of policies of general concern. Matters concerning the curriculum are ultimately decided by the faculty.
  12. Reed is a residential college that provides on-campus housing in small residential communities for a majority of its students in order to sustain vibrant social and intellectual exchange outside of the classroom and laboratory.
  13. The College believes that pursuit of its academic goals is advanced by actively seeking a student body, a faculty, and a staff that reflect a diversity of social, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.
  14. The College seeks to attract and enroll students solely on the basis of their suitability for the academic program, and, to the degree possible, without regard to financial need or other disadvantages unconnected with academic performance or ability.
  15. In service of its educational mission, the College provides a broad array of counseling and health-related programs, cultural events, extracurricular and community service activities, and recreational sports to support the academic growth and physical and emotional health of its students.

(Page last modified: December 7, 2017)