President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: Reflections on a productive week at Reed

February 12, 2020

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

Last week the college held its first Reed Union in many years, and I participated in my second board of trustees meeting, which was held on campus. It was a big week. Considering that Reed is a community with long-standing traditions of asking students, faculty, staff, and the board of trustees to share responsibility for governance, it is essential that we join together to think about and discuss issues that are of great importance to our community. These two meetings have given me confidence in our ability to work together to guide the college forward.

The frame of this Reed Union was broad—community responsibility in a time of climate crisis. It was heartening to see so many members of our community gathered in Kaul Auditorium. From my perspective, the Union succeeded in reminding us all of the urgent challenges posed by climate change and our collective responsibilities. It also created a space for us to share perspectives and encourage action. Further, the Reed Union reconnected the community to the college’s Sustainability Mission Statement.

I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone who participated. I also want to thank the organizers and speakers who dedicated their time to making this important event happen.

  • Isabelle Sinclair, junior and chair of the Reed Union committee
  • Alex Montgomery, associate professor of political science
  • Hayden Hendersen, senior, sustainability coordinator, and student sustainability committee co-chair
  • April Sams, director of risk management and environmental health and safety
  • Troy Cross, professor of philosophy and humanities
  • Carl Vance, former chief investment officer for Lewis & Clark College
  • Julia Adams ’80, professor of sociology and international & area studies at Yale University, head of college at Grace Hopper College, and Reed College trustee

For my part, I left this discussion with a strong sense that campus audiences benefit from additional information about ongoing actions the college is taking to improve the sustainability of its operations. I am grateful to have opportunities to engage in dialogue about the college’s future plans and aspirations in this area and to consider what individuals on campus can do to support these efforts.

As reported in the past, the Reed board of trustees has had several conversations over the past year about sustainability, including the issue of divestment from fossil fuels. This Reed Union inspired further discussion at the board meeting, and trustees expressed a strong desire to take some specific actions in the near future in response to the comments they heard at the Union. To that end, I am pleased to announce two specific actions the college will take to reduce Reed’s energy consumption.

Sustainability Coordinator Position. The board of trustees asked me to explore the prospect of adding a full-time sustainability coordinator staff position, and they have pledged their financial support to fund the position. I will work to define the responsibilities of this job in the coming months. I am grateful to Hayden Henderson and others for advocating for this change. We expect to fill the position by the beginning of the 2020–21 academic year.

Bike Parking Solutions. I will be allocating funds for a convenient, safe, and secure bike parking solution that will encourage biking to and from campus.

I am committed to engaging with sustainability at Reed as an ongoing part of our overall mission. We have much to continue to examine and address, including questions related to divestment. I am encouraged by the progress we are making together.

Love Reed,

Audrey Bilger

Learn more about sustainability at Reed and how you can get involved:

Sustainability committee