Presidents of Reed

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Richard Frederick Scholz


Born on October 24, 1880, in Madison, Wisconsin
Died on July 23, 1924, in Portland, Oregon

Following the presidency of William T. Foster, Richard F. Scholz became president of Reed College in April 1921. From the outset, the college’s second president aimed to revise Reed’s educational structure to include a “correlated and integrated curriculum.” He hoped to help guide students on a path of historical understanding by means of required courses, rather than allowing students to choose courses as they saw fit.

In support of this core curriculum development, Scholz reconstituted the Reed faculty, adding several new hires by September 1921. His initiative to mold the curriculum of the college, and create a cohesive intellectual community, lasted for 20 years, before it was revised in 1942. He organized academic departments into four divisions—Literature and Language; History and Social Science; Mathematics and Natural Science; and Philosophy, Religion, and Psychology—to encourage intellectual relationships based on common interests. In this endeavor, his imprint on the community long outlasted his presidency.

Under Scholz’s leadership, the Rockefeller Foundation granted Reed $133,333, with the condition that endowment drives continue to meet the $450,000 mark. The funding came at a crucial time for the college, given the hardships that affected educational institutions during World War I. Though the money did not lift Reed out of financial difficulty, it enabled the college to continue operations.

Richard Scholz earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1902, and a master’s in classics in 1903. The following year, he became a Rhodes Scholar, and continued his studies at Oxford University and throughout Europe.

When he returned to the U.S. in 1907, Scholz began teaching at his alma mater before moving to the University of California. Immediately before coming to Reed, Scholz was a faculty member in the history department at the University of Washington.

Ailing health and overwork led to Scholz’s early death in 1924, while he was still president of the institution. His wife, Cheryl Scholz, was a dean, administrator, and instructor at Reed. She later married the college’s seventh president, E.B. MacNaughton.