From the Department of Justice to Virgil and Augustus: John Kroger takes the helm this summer.

From the Department of Justice to Virgil and Augustus: John Kroger takes the helm this summer.

Kroger Named President

By Kevin Myers | March 1, 2012

John Kroger, Oregon’s attorney general, was named Reed College’s fifteenth president by the board of trustees in April. 

“John impressed us with his brilliance and clarity, advocacy for the primacy of the liberal arts education, and his commitment to the mission and vision of Reed College,” said board chair Roger Perlmutter ’73. “We are very excited about his arrival on campus this summer.”

Kroger, who taught law at Lewis & Clark and majored in philosophy at Yale, is a passionate defender of the liberal arts.

“Reed College is a remarkable institution with an unparalleled commitment to the life of the mind,” he said. “It possesses a brilliant faculty and a thoughtful, creative, highly intellectual student body. Reed has fostered independent thought and expression for more than 100 years. I am honored to join the Reed community and look forward to joining Reed’s faculty, students, staff and alumni in advancing the cause of the liberal arts education.”

Kroger, 46, was selected after an extensive national search. He met with faculty, staff, and students as part of the process, and made a strong and positive impression.

“The committee was impressed by his commitment to diversity while at the Attorney General’s office and at Lewis & Clark Law School,” said professor Gerri Ondrizek [art 1994–]. “He understands the benefit a diverse faculty brings to the academic program. John had many attributes the committee admired, but one of the things that really clinched it for us was that he went to Yale on scholarship. He reminded us so much of the brilliant students we get at Reed. His education transformed his life. It made him such a believer in the type of education Reed provides.”

Kroger has had a long and distinguished career as a public servant and educator. Elected Oregon’s Attorney General in 2008, he created new units to prosecute environmental crimes, protect civil rights, and combat mortgage fraud. He has testified before Congress and argued twice before the United States Supreme Court.

Before serving as AG, Kroger was a tenured professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, where he taught criminal law and legal philosophy and won the Levenson Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004, 2007, and 2008.

From 1997 to 2001, Kroger was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York—serving as lead counsel in more than 200 criminal cases involving racketeering, violent crimes, narcotic trafficking, public corruption, and white-collar crimes. He wrote about his experience in Convictions: A Prosecutor’s Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves, which won the Oregon Book Award in 2009. 

Kroger earned both BA and MA degrees in philosophy from Yale and graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude. He has also won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard Law School, and the Aspen Institute. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deputy policy director of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

Kroger is an avid runner, cyclist, and hiker. He has run Oregon’s Hood-to-Coast Relay seven times and biked across the United States. His wife, Michele Toppe, is the dean of student life at Portland State University. 

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