Michael Frazel '17 finds his route on the new climbing wall, which was installed as a part of sports center renovations. Photo By Christopher Onstott

Michael Frazel '17 finds his route on the new climbing wall, which was installed as a part of sports center renovations.

Photo By Christopher Onstott

Reaching Higher

Reed lovers give $20 million to support the college.

By Katie Pelletier '03 | December 1, 2016

Reed alumni, parents, and friends made a series of generous gifts totalling more than $20 million during the fiscal year ending June 30 to meet some of the college’s long-standing—and pressing—needs.

Thanks to their leadership, the college has been able to make progress on several big projects: launching a fully-fledged computer science program; completing a long-held goal of a comprehensive program in environmental studies; and renovating the chemistry labs, the sports center, and the cross-canyon residence halls. Support for student research and for preparing for careers beyond college received significant contributions from alumni and parents who believe in Reed students’ talents. Donors also provided funding for Reed’s longest-term aspirations: strong financial aid and general support for the endowment and the college’s operations.  

“Without philanthropy, Reed could not educate the wide range of students coming to the college nor provide them with the same rigorous academics, opportunities for research, small classes, and overall campus experience that it does today,” said President John R. Kroger. “I thank all of those who contributed. Their support enables Reed to create and recreate one of the finest and most distinctive educational programs in the country.”

Computer Science

Reed’s roots in computer science run deep. In the 1950s, Prof. John Hancock [chemistry 1955–89] built the DIMWIT system for molecular analysis, using relays from confiscated pinball machines. The late, great polymath Prof. Richard Crandall ’69 [physics 1978–2012] famously taught students to design and build a system to transmit computer data from the physics lab to Eliot Hall by means of a laser beam. The link was an integral part of Reed’s computer network for many years.

Thanks to strong leadership from trustee Kurt DelBene and former trustee Suzan DelBene ’83, and generous gifts totalling almost $5 million, including a grant from the Microsoft Corporation, Reed is now poised to launch a fully fledged computer science program in September 2017. The college will hire two new tenure-track professors, offer deeper and more advanced coursework to a wider range of students, and establish a major in computer science. Out of this fundraising effort, a chair in computer science was created and named in honor of Crandall.

The list of renowned Reed alumni in technology is impressive, and includes Howard Vollum ’36 (Tektronix), Dan Drake ’64 (Autodesk), Peter Norton ’65 (Norton Utilities), Howard Rheingold ’68 (Stanford), Steve Jobs ’76 (Apple), Suzan DelBene ’83 (Microsoft and Drugstore.com), Larry Sanger ’91 (Wikipedia), Luke Kanies ’96 (Puppet Labs), Mara Zepeda ’02 (Switchboard), and Michael Richardson ’07 (Urban Airship).

Environmental Studies–Biology

Gifts, including lead support from trustee Gary Rieschel ’79 and his wife, Yucca Wong Rieschel, have enabled the college to add a biology position in the environmental studies program, which completes the college’s vision for a program that enables students to engage in cross-cutting issues facing the environment while focusing in a home department (chemistry, political science, history, economics, or biology). New positions in chemistry, history, and political science got the program up and running; bringing in an additional biologist with specific interdisciplinary expertise was the last piece of the puzzle.

Chemistry Renovation

Reed students want to do more research in chemistry than ever before. To meet the demand, the college is renovating the chemistry labs to better support student and faculty research. Work is underway to double the size of an existing student lab and to upgrade a faculty lab.

Sports Center

The concept of the importance of mind-body balance goes back at least as far as Plato. In keeping with Juvenal’s classic ideal mens sana in corpore sano—or, a sound mind in a sound body—Reed has long integrated a physical education requirement into the curriculum.

The sports center was originally built in 1965. Thanks to a generous gift from trustee Tim Boyle, the college was able to renovate the building to respond to changes in Reed’s program and student interest. This extensive renovation will create a center for our nationally recognized outdoor program, offering equipment and resources and training for students interested in activities from kayaking to backpacking to advanced climbing. These space changes will expand the overcrowded cardio and weight rooms, and implement ADA and energy-saving upgrades to the pool. Other projects include a new basketball floor and overhauling the locker room facilities. 

Over the years, the sports center has nourished adventurous souls such as Arlene Blum ’66, the first American woman to summit Annapurna; Dan Young MALS ’70, who spent 17 years as offensive line coach of the fearsome University of Nebraska Cornhuskers; and Jennifer Ferenstein ’88, the youngest president of the Sierra Club.

Student Research and Career Support

Internships, summer research positions, and academic conferences are meaningful opportunities for students to gain real-world experience in their field of interest, but are often unpaid or costly. This year, because of generous student opportunities gifts, Reed has been able to strengthen and expand our financial support of students eager to present original research at conferences, conduct research with faculty over the summer, or secure highly competitive internships. The President’s Summer Fellowship, now in its third year, was created by trustee Dan Greenberg ’62 and his wife, Susan Steinhauser, to offer students a chance to think big and tackle a summer project that combines intellectual pursuit, imagination, adventure, personal transformation, and service to the greater good. This year the fellowship supported seven student projects, including that of Jasmine Williams ’17, who spent the summer teaching children at a Buddhist monastery in Mingaladon, Myanmar.

Cross-Canyon Dorms

Sustainability and livability will soon join forces as Reed gives the cross-canyon residence halls a much-needed renovation, extending the lifetime of these unique structures.

Built between 1958 and 1962 and nestled at the edge of the canyon, the dorms are known for their unique midcentury and community-fostering design. Preserving these structures will help the college ensure that the number of on-campus beds never dips below current levels; this has become increasingly important over the past decade as affordable rentals in Portland have become scarcer while more students want to live on campus than ever before. National studies and Reed’s own experience show that students who live in on-campus housing tend to meet their educational goals more quickly and reliably. “The importance of living on campus during the first year of college to degree completion cannot be overstated,” states a 2011 report from the Higher Education Research Institute. Work on the cross-canyon dorms is underway, with two residence halls renovated this summer and two scheduled for renovation next summer. The first phase was completed in time to welcome students this fall.


Annual Fund

In addition to the gifts mentioned above, alumni and friends gave a record-breaking $4.545 million to the Annual Fund during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. A substantial portion of Reed’s annual operating budget (7%) is supported by the Annual Fund. This money pays for operating expenses supporting the entire college such as financial aid, faculty salaries, student support, and maintenance of campus facilities.

Tags: Giving Back to Reed, Campus Life, Alumni, Institutional