President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: In Anticipation of Inauguration Day

January 19, 2021

Dear Reed students, faculty, and staff,

Tomorrow morning, a fairly and democratically elected President of the United States will take the oath of office. Although there has not been a peaceful transfer of power, there will be new leadership. The institutions of American democracy have been tested, but democracy will prevail. This is both a cause for optimism and a call for attention and action.

The insurrection that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6 was fueled by white supremacy, racism, hate, and disinformation. The crisis we face reveals the vulnerability of democracy, the need for diversity in representation, and the importance of an informed electorate.

At a time like this, I am reminded of the value of a Reed education. I think about the opening of Reed’s mission statement: “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.” For a democracy to thrive, citizens must understand the electoral process; the structures of government; and the role of evidence, science, and critical thinking in public discourse. The people must be able to see through the lies, logical fallacies, and distractions that prevent democracy from functioning as it should. Clearly, the world needs more Reedies.

I feel grateful to be part of a community that is passionate about learning, guided by honor, and committed to shared governance. As we move forward together through this uncertain and chaotic period, I hope you will take refuge in knowing you are surrounded by people who care about you, your success, and your well-being.




Audrey Bilger