President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: Regarding video of a faculty member

March 29, 2022

Dear Reed parents, alumni, and friends,

As a number of you have heard, a tenured Reed professor disparaged employees at a Portland-area business in an incident captured on video and shared widely. This appalling incident has been the subject of a number of communications, including an apology from the professor. Some community members have called for the professor to be dismissed from the college. Dean of the Faculty Kathy Oleson wrote to the campus community explaining the process for addressing policy violations by faculty—a process which is underway, and I include that communication below.

Above all, we are focused on supporting our students as they enter their final weeks of the semester at Reed. We are in contact with students, faculty, and staff, offering guidance and support and acknowledging the impact of this event. We are planning additional work to engage the campus community in conversation and to complete a campus climate survey launched earlier this semester. These steps and others to come will inform our efforts to create and sustain a climate of belonging for all campus community members.

With appreciation for your engagement and support of Reed’s students,

Audrey Bilger


Communication from Kathy Oleson, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Psychology

Dear Reed students, staff, and faculty,

I, like the rest of the community, was shocked by the video of a faculty member that has been circulating on social media. It was painful to watch and in no way reflective of what we hope for our community. Since that time, I've engaged faculty in numerous conversations. In consultation with President Bilger, I am asking the Committee on Advancement and Tenure (CAT), a committee composed of elected tenured faculty members, to formally begin the process of investigating and determining appropriate next steps as it relates to this faculty member’s position on the Reed faculty.

Over the weekend, I communicated with CAT about investigating unprofessional conduct and discriminatory harassment. CAT will be guided by our governance documents. A faculty member charged with having violated policies about professional ethics or discriminatory harassment will be subject to the Faculty Rules of Procedure, sections F, G, and H.

Tomorrow, I will meet with CAT to determine whether “an investigation of unprofessional conduct may be warranted according to the procedures of Section G or Section H” (as presented in F-2b). Section G considers sanctions less than suspension or termination; this procedure involves an investigation by a faculty hearing board. Section H considers fixed-term suspension or termination of academic tenure. In this case, the faculty members elected to the Appeals and Review Committee could appoint a committee of faculty to investigate the incident and make recommendations to the president for action by the full board of trustees. The processes for investigating and disciplining a tenured faculty member are handled directly by the faculty. While the faculty member is currently on sabbatical and not teaching, it is my hope that the faculty committees involved in these procedures will resolve their work prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

I recognize and understand the desire for immediate action, and we will address the matter as swiftly as possible. I ask for your understanding as we move through our confidential processes.

While this process is starting, we are seeking to support those students who have been directly working with this faculty member. We want to ensure they have a safe space to complete their studies. Faculty from psychology and neuroscience will step in to support thesis students and academic advisees impacted by this event, ensuring that they receive the assistance and access they need to complete their projects.

Kathryn C. Oleson, Ph.D.
Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Psychology
Reed College