Triumph in 2023

Donors support students every step of the way.

By Matt Kelly | July 26, 2023

When the class of 2023 began their Reed journey, no one could have foreseen the challenges they would face—from global pandemic to wildfire to historic snow and ice storms. But with the support of professors, staff members, and donors, these students marched across the stage at Commencement this past spring on a day filled with sunshine, smiling faces, and all the solemnity of Scottish bagpipes. It felt like a triumph over the challenges of the past four years. 

Underlying these and all of our students’ successes was the support of Reed donors. This past year, nearly 4,000 alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends made gifts to the college, including gifts to the Annual Fund totaling more than $4.3 million. Annual Fund gifts support academic excellence, helping to fund opportunities for student-professor mentorship; scholarly resources in the laboratory and the library; and advisers in the Center for Life Beyond Reed that help students find their purpose and set them on a path to success.

Once again, the Alumni Fundraising for Reed (AFR) volunteer group led the charge among the alumni donor community. These valiant Reedies logged 108 volunteer sessions, reaching out to 1,626 of their peers to encourage them to renew their gift.

Motivations for giving are as multifaceted as the alumni community, but support for students is consistently a high priority for donors. “Reed wouldn’t be Reed without all the intelligent, wacky, creative individuals that make up the student body,” says Katherine Lefever ’07, co-chair of the AFR along with Kyndra Kennedy ’04. “As alumni,” Katherine says, “we have the opportunity to encircle current Reed students with our support. Alumni gifts, no matter the amount, provide access to the Reed experience. But they also demonstrate to students that the Reedie community is there for them well beyond graduation. I give to Reed today because that network continues to be a source of support and camaraderie for me personally.” 

Some alumni and parents chose to lock in their support for Reed this year by establishing a monthly gift. Spencer Trumm ’14 was one of them.“The education I received at Reed was always challenging and always rewarding,” says Spencer. “Our classes' conference-style structure kept us on our toes, but the discussions they fostered also strengthened our relationships with our professors and each other. We knew that we always had people in our corners. And the friendships I made there and my memories of the culture on campus will last a lifetime. Reed was a great experience for me, and it wouldn't have been possible without the financial aid I received. I want others to have the same opportunity. I don't have a lot to give, but I figure I can buy Reed a beer once a month. That still adds up, and if I keep giving over the years, that will add up, too. And I've heard that large foundations look at the percentage of alumni who give back, so if I give, I can boost that percentage, and by doing that, encourage them to give more to Reed. It's important. It’s a gesture of thanks, and something that I hope opens doors for current and future students.”

Throughout the year, alumni and parents forged permanent sources of support for the college by creating endowed funds. Examples include the Yaross Catalyst Fund, which supports student skill-building programs intended to further academic success, several scholarships for students with financial need, and the Albert Bandura Memorial Student Research Fund.

The Bandura fund was created by Mary Bandura ’77 and Harton Smith ’75 to honor Mary’s father, one of the most influential psychologists of the 21st century. Mary says, “I can't think of a better way to honor my father than by setting up a memorial student research fund in his name. He was passionate about psychology and was engaged in the field until he died at age 95. He was the most learning-oriented person I've known. He planted the seeds of intellectual curiosity in me, and Reed helped nurture and develop them. He appreciated that Reed provides an environment in which students actively grapple with and research intellectual challenges, learn to think critically, and try to find ways to make their ideas matter. Setting up a fund to support students' research efforts pays tribute to what he cared about most—the growth and application of meaningful knowledge about human nature to create a better world.” This summer, the Bandura Fund is supporting Emerson Schimmel ’24, who is working with Prof. Kris Anderson [psychology 2007–] to examine the relationship between sexual identity, risk perception, protective behavioral strategies, and alcohol consumption.

Other generous supporters include the 30 donors who either joined the Eliot Society or doubled down on their estate commitments last year. The Eliot Society recognizes those who let the college know that they have included Reed in their will, named Reed as a beneficiary of an IRA or other retirement fund, or who have created a planned gift benefiting  the college. Last year’s new members increased total Eliot Society membership to 715. 

From young alumni who made their first $5 gift to alumni who set down their intentions for the college in their wills, Reedies of all ages came together to support the college philanthropically this year. Their gifts will have an immediate impact on academic excellence, belonging, and student success, and the resonance of their support will be felt for generations to come.

Tags: Financial Aid, Giving Back to Reed, Institutional