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Reed College is a private, independent, liberal arts college located in southeast Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1908, Reed is a four-year residential college with a campus located in Portland’s residential Eastmoreland neighborhood, featuring architecture based on the Tudor-Gothic style, and a forested canyon wilderness preserve at its center. Reed is distinctively known for its mandatory freshman humanities program, for its required senior-year thesis, as the only private undergraduate college with a nuclear reactor supporting its science programs, and for the unusually high percentage of graduates who go on to earn PhDs and other postgraduate degrees.
1 History
2 Distinguishing features
3 Academic program
3.1 Divisions
3.2 Humanities program
3.3 Interdisciplinary and dual-degree programs
4 Admissions and student demographics
4.1 Tuition and finances
5 Reputation
5.1 Rankings
5.2 Academic honors
5.3 Political
5.4 Drug use
6 Campus
6.1 Residence halls
6.2 Reed Canyon
6.3 Douglas F. Cooley Gallery
6.4 Food services
6.5 Off-campus housing
7 Icons and student life
7.1 Griffin
7.2 School color
7.3 School song
7.4 Student nickname
7.5 Unofficial mottos and folklore
7.6 Paideia
7.7 Renn Fayre
7.8 Student organizations
8 Notable alumni
9 References
10 External links
Reed College’s Eliot Hall on a rare snowy day.
The Reed Institute (the legal name of the college) was founded in 1908, and Reed College held its first classes in 1911. Reed is named for Oregon pioneers Simeon Gannett Reed and Amanda Reed. Simeon was an entrepreneur in trade on the Columbia River; in his will he suggested that his wife could “devote some portion of my estate to benevolent objects, or to the cultivation, illustration, or development of the fine arts in the city of Portland, or to some other suitable purpose, which shall be of permanent value and contribute to the beauty of the city and to the intelligence, prosperity, and happiness of the inhabitants.” The first president of Reed (19101919) was William Trufant Foster, a former professor at Bates College and Bowdoin College in Maine.
Contrary to popular belief, the college did not grow out of student revolts and experimentation, but out of a desire to provide a “more flexible, individualized approach to a rigorous liberal arts education.” Founded explicitly in reaction to the “prevailing model of East Coast, Ivy League education,” the college’s lack of varsity athletics, fraternities, and exclusive social clubs as well as its coeducational, nonsectarian, and egalitarian status gave way to an intensely academic and intellectual college whose purpose was to devote itself to “the life of the mind.”
The college holds a reputation for the progressive and anti-authoritarian leanings of its community.
Distinguishing features
According to sociologist Burton Clark, Reed is one of the most unusual institutions of higher learning in the United States, featuring a traditional liberal arts and natural sciences curriculum. It requires freshmen to take Humanities 110 an intensive introduction to the Classics, covering ancient Greece and Rome as well as the Bible and ancient Jewish history. Its program in the sciences is likewise unusual Reed’s TRIGA research reactor makes it the only school in the United States to have a nuclear reactor operated entirely by undergraduates. Reed also requires all students to complete a thesis (a two-semester-long research project conducted under the guidance of professors) during the senior year as a prerequisite of graduation, and passing a junior qualifying exam at the end of the junior year is a prerequisite to beginning the thesis. Upon completion of the senior thesis, students must also pass an oral exam that may encompass questions not only about the thesis, but also about any course previously taken.
Reed maintains a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and its small classes emphasize a “conference” style, in which the teacher often acts as a mediator for discussion rather than a lecturer. While large lecture-style classes exist, Reed emphasizes its smaller lab and conference sections.
Although letter grades are given to students, grades are de-emphasized at Reed. According to the school, “[s]tudents are encouraged to focus on learning, not on grades. Students are evaluated rigorously, and semester grades are filed with the registrar, but by tradition, students do not receive standard grade reports. Papers and exams are generally returned to students with lengthy comments but without grades affixed. There is no dean list or honor roll, and Reed does not award Latin honors at graduation.” Many Reedies graduate without knowing either their cumulative GPA or their grades in individual classes. Reed also claims to have experienced very little grade inflation over the years, noting, for example, that only seven students graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA in the period from 1983 to 2007. (Transcripts are accompanied by a card explaining Reed’s relatively tough grading system, so as to not penalize students applying to graduate schools.) Reed does make several awards for academic achievement at the Commencement ceremony, however, including naming students to Phi Beta Kappa.
Reed has no fraternities or sororities, and few NCAA sports teams, although physical education classes (which range from kayaking to juggling) are required for graduation. Reed also has several intercollegiate athletic teams, most notably the Rugby, Fencing, and Ultimate Frisbee teams.
What this means is that a community governed by an honor principle is a community not of rules and procedures but of virtue. As such, it is a community of unfreedom. There is no protected realm; one can never take refuge in, seek protection from, or hide behind a doctrine of rights. Anything that anyone does is, in principle, subject to evaluation. Was it a virtuous thing to do? Was it consistent with notions of honorableness? Does it contribute to the well-being of the community? Is it the kind of behavior that we value and wish to encourage? In the absence of rights, behavior that we do not wish to value and do not wish to encourage has absolutely no protection.
eter J. Steinberger, Dean of the Faculty
Reed’s ethical code is known as “The Honor Principle”. First introduced as an agreement to promote ethical academic behavior, with the explicit end of relieving the faculty of the burden of policing student behavior, the Honor Principle was extended to cover all aspects of student life. While inspired by traditional honor systems, Reed’s Honor Principle differs from these in that it is a guide for ethical standards themselves, not just their enforcement. Under the Honor Principle, there are no codified rules governing behavior. Rather, the onus is on students individually and as a community to define which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
Discrete cases of grievance, known as “Honor Cases”, are adjudicated by a Judicial Board, which consists of nine full-time students. There is also an “Honor Council,” which consists of students, faculty, and staff, designed to educate the community regarding the Honor Principle and mediate conflict between individuals.
Academic program
Reed categorizes its academic program into five Divisions and the Humanities program. Overall, Reed offers five Humanities courses, twenty-six department majors, twelve interdisciplinary majors, six dual-degree programs with other colleges and universities, and programs for pre-medical and pre-veterinary students.
The Reed College campus
Division of Arts: includes the Art (Art History and Studio Art), Dance, Music, and Theatre Departments;
Division of History and Social Sciences: includes the History, Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, and Sociology Departments, as well as the International and Comparative Policy Studies Program;
Division of Literature and Languages: includes the Classics, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish Departments, as well as the Creative Writing and General Literature Programs;
Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences: includes the Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Departments, and
Division of Philosophy, Religion, Psychology, and Linguistics: includes the Psychology, Philosophy, Religion, and Linguistics Departments.
Humanities program
Reed President Richard Scholz in 1922 called the educational program as a whole “an honest effort to disregard old historic rivalries and hostilities between the sciences and the arts, between professional and cultural subjects, and, … the formal chronological cleavage between the graduate and the undergraduate attitude of mind.” The Humanities program, which came into being in 1943 (as the union of two year-long courses, one in “world” literature, the other in “world” history) is one manifestation of this effort. One change to the program was the addition of a course in Chinese Civilization in 1995. The faculty has also recently approved several significant changes to the introductory syllabus. These changes include expanding the parameters of the course to include more material regarding urban and cultural environments.
Reed’s Humanities program includes the mandatory freshman course Introduction to Western Humanities covering ancient Greek and Roman literature, history, art, religion, and philosophy. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may take Early Modern Europe covering Renaissance thought and literature; Modern Humanities covering the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and Modernism, and/or Foundations of Chinese Civilization. There is also a Humanities Senior Symposium.
Interdisciplinary and dual-degree programs
Reed also offers interdisciplinary programs in American studies, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chemistry/Physics, Classics/Religion, Dance/Theatre, History/Literature, International and Comparative Policy Studies (ICPS), Literature/Theatre, Mathematics/Economics, and Mathematics/Physics.
Reed offers dual-degree programs in Applied Physics (with OHSU/OGI), Computer Science (with University of Washington), Engineering (with Caltech and others), Environmental Science (with Duke University), and Fine Art (with the Pacific Northwest College of Art).
Admissions and student demographics
Eliot Hall
Until the late 1990s, Reed accepted a larger percentage of total applicants than peer institutions 76% in 1996. This led to high levels of attrition (drop-outs) during that period. Since then, the number of applicants for freshman admission has increased sharply. Since 2002, Reed’s attrition rate has moved toward that of peer institutions, and the five-year graduation rate (76% for the 2003/2004 entering class) now exceeds the national average.
In 2009, the applicant pool for the class of 2013 was the third largest in Reed’s history: 3,159 students applied and 1,225 were admitted, for an admission rate of 38.8%. The admitted class of 2013’s average combined Math and Verbal SAT scores were 1407; the mean composite ACT score was 31; and the mean high school GPA was 4.034.
Reed’s student body is 45% male and 55% female, and includes 22% minority students: 3% self-report as Black (including African-American, African, and Afro-Caribbean); 6% as Hispanic; 9% as Asian, 2% Native American, and 2% Mixed/Other. Minority numbers include some of the 7% international citizens (13% of freshmen did not self-report their ethnicity). In the class of 2010, 38% of students are from the United States’s West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington), with the most coming from California.
Tuition and finances
The total base cost for the 2009-10 academic year, including tuition, fees and room-and-board, is $49,950. In recent years between 50% and 60% of students have received financial aid from the college. In 2004 (the most recent data available), 1.4% of Reed graduates defaulted on their student loans — below the national Cohort Default Rate average of 5.1%.
Reed’s endowment as of June 30, 2008 was $427.3 million, below the median of about $500m for comparable schools, and well below Amherst and Swarthmore’s approximately one billion dollar endowments. During the 2009 fiscal year, the endowment is expected to contribute about $19 million toward the college’s operating expenses, an increase of about $3 million from two years ago.
Old Dorm Block and Anna Mann residences
Main article: Criticism of college and university rankings (North America)
In 1995 Reed College refused to participate in the U.S. News and World Report “best colleges” rankings, making it the first educational institution in the United States to refuse to participate in college rankings. According to Reed’s Office of Admissions:
Reed College has actively questioned the methodology and usefulness of college rankings ever since the magazine’s best-colleges list first appeared in 1983, despite the fact that the issue ranked Reed among the top ten national liberal arts colleges. Reed’s concern intensified with disclosures in 1994 by the Wall Street Journal about institutions flagrantly manipulating data in order to move up in the rankings in U.S. News and other popular college guides. This led Reed’s then-president Steven Koblik to inform the editors of U.S. News that he didn’t find their project credible, and that the college would not be returning any of their surveys.
Rolling Stone, in its 16 October 1997 issue, argued that Reed’s rankings were artificially decreased by U.S. News after they stopped sending data to U.S. News and World Report. Nicholas Thompson reiterated this judgment in an article in The Washington Monthly in 2000. Reed has also made the same claim. In discussing Reed’s decision, President Colin Diver wrote in an article for the November 2005 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, “by far the most important consequence of sitting out the rankings game, however, is the freedom to pursue our own educational philosophy, not that of some news magazine.”
However, in 2005 Reed did submit statistics to the Princeton Review, and received first in Overall Undergraduate Academic Experience.
Academic honors
Reed has produced the second-highest number of Rhodes scholars for any liberal arts college31s well as over fifty Fulbright Scholars, over sixty Watson Fellows, and two MacArthur (“Genius”) Award winners. A very high proportion of Reed graduates go on to earn Ph.D.s, particularly in the sciences, history, political science, and philosophy. Reed is third in percentage of its graduates who go on to earn Ph.D.s in all disciplines, after only Caltech and Harvey Mudd. In 1961, Scientific American declared that second only to Caltech, “This small college in Oregon has been far and away more productive of future scientists than any other institution in the U.S.” Reed is first in this percentage in biology, second in chemistry and humanities, third in history, foreign languages, and political science, fourth in the physical sciences, math and computer science, and science and engineering, fifth in physics and social sciences, sixth in anthropology, seventh in area and ethnic studies and linguistics, and eighth in English literature and the medical sciences.
Reed’s debating team, which had existed for only two years at the time, was awarded the first place sweepstakes trophy for Division II schools at the final tournament of the Northwest Forensics Conference in February 2004.
Loren Pope, former education editor for The New York Times, writes about Reed in Colleges That Change Lives, saying, “If you’re a genuine intellectual, live the life of the mind, and want to learn for the sake of learning, the place most likely to empower you is not Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Chicago, or Stanford. It is the most intellectual college in the countryeed in Portland, Oregon.” In 2006, Newsweek magazine named Reed as one of twenty-five “New Ivies,” listing it among “the nation’s elite colleges”. In 2009, The Princeton Review ranked Reed number two in “Best Classroom Experience,” number three in “Students Study the Most,” and number five in “Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians”.
Old Dorm Block
Reed has a reputation for being politically left-wing. Whether in fact Reed’s student body is more leftist than those of similar colleges is difficult to determine, but Reed’s academic tradition of open and passionate debate often spills into the off-campus political arena and, combined with the freewheeling social environment, often leads to the appearance of radical leftism.
During the McCarthy era of the 1950s, then-President Duncan Ballantine fired Marxist philosopher Stanley Moore, a tenured professor, for his failure to cooperate with the HUAC investigation. According to an article in the college’s alumni magazine, “because of the decisive support expressed by Reed’s faculty, students, and alumni for the three besieged teachers and for the principle of academic freedom, Reed College’s experience with McCarthyism stands apart from that of most other American colleges and universities. Elsewhere in the academic world both tenured and untenured professors with alleged or admitted communist party ties were fired with relatively little fuss or protest. At Reed, however, opposition to the political interrogations of the teachers was so strong that some believed the campus was in danger of closure.” A statement of “regret” by the Reed administration and Board of Trustees was published in 1981, formally revising the judgment of the 1954 trustees. In 1993, then-President Steve Koblik invited Moore to visit the College, and in 1995 the last surviving member of the Board that fired Moore expressed his regret and apologized to him.
Drug use
Since the 1960s, Reed has had a reputation for tolerating open drug use among its students, and the 1998 Princeton Review listed Reed as the number-three school in the “reefer madness” category. The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, written by the staff of Yale Daily News, also notes an impression among students of institutional permissiveness: “according to students, the school does not bust students for drug or alcohol use unless they cause harm or embarrassment to another student.” The 2008 Princeton Review does not mention Reed in its top 20 colleges for marijuana usage.
In April, 2008, student Alex Lluch died of a heroin overdose in his on-campus dorm room. His death prompted revelations of several previous incidents, including the near-death heroin overdose of another student only months earlier. College President Colin Diver said “I don’t honestly know” whether the drug death was an isolated incident or part of a larger problem. “When you say Reed,” Diver said, “two words often come to mind. One is brains. One is drugs.” Local reporter James Pitkin of the newspaper Willamette Week editorialized that “Reed College, a private school with one of the most prestigious academic programs in the

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