Inspiring Professors Named to Chairs

December 8, 2021

For more than 100 years, Reed professors have set themselves apart by treating students as intellectual peers—“Comrades of the Quest,” to borrow President William T. Foster’s memorable phrase. Here we celebrate six professors who have recently been appointed to prestigious chairs—a mark of esteem from their colleagues and a recognition of their knack for inspiring students. 

Prof. Jon Rork

George Hay Professor of Economics

Prof. Rork studies public finance. His current research interests lie in the realms of state taxation, interjurisdictional competition, and the economic determinants of interstate migration, especially as they pertain to the elderly. He has published his research in journals including the Journal of Urban Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, National Tax Journal, Journal of Regional Science, and Public Finance Review.  He teaches courses in microeconomic theory, game theory and urban economics. He earned his PhD from Stanford and has taught at Reed since 2010. 

The Hay Chair honors Prof. George Hay, who joined the Reed faculty in 1956 and worked extensively in international economics, traveling to Indonesia, South America, and Africa. A powerhouse for the college, Hay served as the director of admissions from 1958–1964, vice president and treasurer from 1973–1979, executive vice president from 1979–1980, and acting president in 1980–81. The chair was established in 1989 through the leadership of longtime trustee Richard P. Wollenberg. Ultimately, donors contributed more than 100 gifts to endow a professorship in Hay’s memory. 

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Prof. Suzy Renn

Roger M. Perlmutter Professorship in Biological Sciences

Prof. Renn is a neuroscientist who studies the evolution of social behavior. She’s an expert on African cichlids, a type of fish that has experienced an incredibly rapid evolutionary radiation, resulting in thousands of closely related species that exhibit a wealth of morphological and behavioral diversity despite very low genomic sequence divergence. She’s been teaching at Reed since 2006.

The Perlmutter Professorship was created this year by the Merck Foundation to honor longtime trustee Roger Perlmutter ’73 on the occasion of his retirement as executive vice president of Merck Research Laboratories. The chair will help anchor instruction in biology at Reed while contributing to the legacy of one of the college’s most important leaders.

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Prof. Jan Mieszkowski

Reginald F. Arragon Chair in Humanities

Prof. Mieszkowski is a specialist in 18th and 19th European literature and philosophy. He teaches courses in German and comparative literature and literary theory, ancient and modern humanities, and continental philosophy. He is the author of three books: Labors of Imagination (2006), Watching War (2012), and Crises of the Sentence (2019). He holds a PhD in German literature from Johns Hopkins University and has taught at Reed since 1997.

​​The Arragon Chair was created by James C. March ’77 and Melissa March in honor of Rex Arragon, a beloved professor of history [1923–74]. After attending Reed, Jim studied the economics of information at Stanford University. He went on to found WJM Technologies, a software company that developed tools to detect bank fraud.

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Prof. Kambiz GhaneaBassiri

Thomas Lamb Eliot Professor of Religion and Humanities

Prof. GhaneaBassiri specializes in Islamic studies and American religious history. He was named a Carnegie Scholar for his book A History of Islam in America and a Guggenheim Fellow for his work on the mosque in Islamic history. He teaches courses on humanities, Islam, theory and method in the study of religion, and religious diversity. He joined Reed in 2002 after earning a PhD in religion at Harvard University.

The Thomas Lamb Eliot Memorial Fund for Religion was established in 1953 by his son, William Greenleaf Eliot Jr. Thomas Lamb Eliot was the chair of the founding board of trustees and served as a trustee from 1911 to 1925. Following in his father’s footsteps, Eliot, Jr. served as a trustee from 1925 to 1941. The endowment supports religious interests and studies of the students, faculty, and community of Reed.

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Prof. Kris Cohen

Jane Neuberger Goodsell Professor of Art History and Humanities

Prof. Cohen is trained as a media theorist and an art historian. His research interests include modern and contemporary art, networked and computational media, critical theory, affect theory, queer theory, and Black studies. He’s the author of Never Alone, Except for Now: Art, Networks, Populations (2017). He teaches courses on the history of modern art, video art, the politics of representation, art and technology, and the arts of capitalism. He earned his PhD in art history from the University of Chicago and has taught at Reed since 2011.

The Goodsell Chair, created by Sue and Edward Cooley and John and Betty Gray, honors author and columnist Jane Neuberger Goodsell ’42.  Goodsell majored in English literature at Reed and began her writing career as she was raising three daughters. In addition to her column From Soup to Nonsense, which was syndicated in the national labor press, Goodsell published her first children’s book, Katie’s Magic Glasses, in 1965. Her later books include Toby’s Toe, Not a Good Word About Anybody, and children’s biographies of Eleanor Roosevelt, the Mayo brothers, and Hawaii senator Daniel Inouye.

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Prof. Chris Koski

Daniel B. Greenberg Chair in Environmental Studies

Prof. Koski is an expert on the political dimensions of policy making, such as environmental policy, energy policy, public budgeting, and climate change. He currently teaches courses on American politics, public policy, state and local politics and policy, and environmental politics and policy. He can be found talking politics and policy anywhere, but particularly where there is pinball, barbecue, good fishing, or wild things. He earned his PhD from the University of Washington and came to Reed in 2011.

​​The Greenberg Chair was created this year in memory of Daniel B. Greenberg ’62, who served on Reed’s board of trustees for more than 45 years and oversaw growth and transformation in every area of the college. His philanthropic leadership in collaboration with his wife, Susan Steinhauser, was instrumental to several essential initiatives, including environmental studies. The environmental studies chair will support generations of talented teacher-scholars in this important field of endeavor and further Dan’s remarkable legacy at Reed.

Tags: Giving Back to Reed, Institutional, Professors