President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: Our Capacity for Shenanigans

photo of Reed students celebrating and burning theses

May 19, 2021

Dear graduates, students, and parents,

We made it! Congratulations to the class of 2021! All graduating classes are noteworthy, and I know we would all agree that this is one for the history books. It was a joy to be able to hand diplomas to so many of you and to celebrate your accomplishments in person. Even though this is the end of my second year at Reed, this was my first Commencement. The applause, cheers, and feelings of love and community present during the ceremony were incredibly moving.

I want to thank our Commencement speaker, Dr. Ali Nouri, for his inspiring words. And speaking of inspiration, I remind you all to visit the virtual thesis board to view our graduating students and their impressive projects.

When the rest of us return in the fall, I hope to be able to dramatically reduce my use of the words “unprecedented” and “resilience,” as well as the phrase, “I think you’re still muted.” I also hope to say far too frequently, “How wonderful to see you again!”

Reed will follow the state’s recommendations to determine the health protocols that will guide us through the summer and fall, but indicators are giving us optimism for a relatively smooth return to something that will closely resemble pre-pandemic campus life. It truly will be wonderful to see you again.

As the academic year ends and gives way to the summer months, I encourage you to make time for rest and rejuvenation. And, as Aliza Phillips ’21 says in a joyful video recapping this year, I hope you will find ways to express your “capacity for shenanigans!”

All my best,



Audrey Bilger