President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: Looking back, moving forward.

President Audrey Bilger profile in the thesis tower

December 8, 2021

Dear Reed Community,

Looking back, moving forward. It is a time of year for commemoration and gratitude. As we reach the final days of the fall term and approach the end of 2021, I reflect upon who we are as a community and all we continue to accomplish together. I have the privilege and the joy of championing this magical place, and I am truly grateful for all you do to make Reed Reed. You are all engaged in critical work, and there is much to celebrate. While we have a long list of achievements to be proud of, I focus here on three that are top of mind for me today.

We are a vibrant learning community that continues to attract the world’s most intellectually curious students. This year, we welcomed to Reed 502 first-year and 20 transfer students, with an average high school GPA of 4.0. They comprise the largest first-year class chosen from the greatest number of applications in the college’s history. (We had 7,010 applicants for fall 2021 versus 3,075 for fall 2011—a 128% increase.) But of course, these students represent so much more than that. Each was drawn here by their individual intellectual curiosity, by their belief in our mission, and by what Reed embodies as an institution. Students come here to translate their curiosity into demonstrated rigor of thought and habit.

Reed professors are on the cutting edge of their disciplines and partner with students on important research. Our faculty in the sciences, arts, and humanities are exceptional teacher-scholars who are acclaimed in their fields and compete successfully for grant funding with professors from other top universities and colleges throughout the world. Reed professors have been awarded more than $12.4 million in grants over the past five years. I encourage you to check out the articles about the research conducted at Reed in the December issue of Reed Magazine where you will meet Reedies who are—among other pursuits—investigating the heavens, scrutinizing microscopic aquatic plants, delving into political biases, listening in on gossip, and examining ancient art objects. (The issue mails this week, or you can​ read it now ​on ISSUU, a digital publication platform, by creating a free account.)

We are committed to asking and answering the important questions that will improve the Reed experience for our students. We work together to make important decisions, choose resources to invest in, and set our institutional priorities. A prime illustration is the October announcement that Reed will curtail endowment investments in fossil fuels to further its commitment to sustainability. Yet this is only one among many examples of our community working together to build a better future. Across the college, we are all doing our part to make Reed and the world a better place. Other examples include 

I am so proud of this college. We are critical thinkers and creative problem solvers. There is no limit to what we can accomplish together, and there is no group I would rather accompany on this journey.

With deep appreciation and admiration,



Audrey Bilger
Reed College