Presidents of Reed

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Dexter Merriam Keezer


Born on August 24, 1885, in Acton, Massachusetts
Died on June 26, 1991, in Orleans, Massachusetts

“The proper position on fly versus egg fishing is that no civilized citizen uses a salmon egg,” wrote Reed’s fourth president, Dexter M. Keezer, in a letter to the Oregonian in 1939.

Keezer's love of fishing was well known at Reed, as was his concern for a well-rounded—and civilized—citizenry. While his academic vision for Reed differed from the faculty’s, Keezer worked on behalf of the social welfare of students during his presidency, attempting to complement a rigorous academic and intellectual life with social and recreational activities. This—and his love of the outdoors—was perhaps the impetus behind his approval of the construction of the Reed College ski cabin on the flanks of Mount Hood.

Before coming to Reed in 1934, Keezer worked as an educator, journalist, and New-Dealer economist. He served in an Army machine-gun battalion in World War I and taught at Cornell, the University of Colorado, the University of North Carolina, and Dartmouth College. He graduated from Amherst College in 1920 and earned an M.A. from Cornell University in 1923 and a Ph.D. from the Brookings Graduate School of Economics and Government in 1925.

When he left Reed in 1942, he returned to the East Coast and worked for the government on behalf of the war effort. In 1945, Keezer joined the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, where he gained worldwide attention for developing annual surveys of capital spending and of research and development expenditures by many of the nation's leading businesses. He retired from McGraw-Hill as vice president in 1960.