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Reed College celebrates a century of inquiry

by: David F. Ashton Balloons welcome families as they play on the lawn in front of the Old Dorm Block building on Reed College’s hundredth anniversary, September 25th.

Under colorful banners, and with towers of balloons, Reed College opened its campus to the community on Saturday, September 24, to celebrate their long and storied history in Portland.

'It's our Centennial Celebration,' smiled the college's Public Affairs Director, Jennifer Bates, 'And we're just thrilled about it!'

With families and lots of kids swirling around the campus quad, Bates said the day-long party was another way Reed College is giving back to the community that's supported the institution for 100 years.

During the college's first year of operation, while buildings were being constructed on the open land, originally part of the Ladd Farm, classes were held in downtown Portland, Bates observed. The first classes actually on the campus started in 1912.

Responding to the idea that Reed is an 'exclusive' school, only for the privileged, Bates replied, 'The college is certainly selective. We draw a pool of more than 3,000 applicants - students from all across the country and the world. In a sense, the 1,400 students at Reed are more 'diverse' than 'exclusive'.'

Kevin Myers, Reed's Media Relations chief, joined the conversation - after coming in fourth in his bracket in the morning's Reed College 5K Run.

'Perhaps some people don't know that 54% of our students receive financial aid,' Myers commented - 'Packages of about $35,000 a year. Students truly do come from all walks of life; it's not just a school for the wealthy.'

One thing that does make the college elite, Myers added, is high academic standards. 'Many students who have gone on to get their Masters or Ph.D. have remarked that writing their Reed College thesis was the most academically challenging thing they have ever done.'

Since the college's earliest days, Bates added, 'Giving back to the community has been part of our mission. This 'spirit of giving' continues to this day, although it might not always visible to everyone in the community.'

For example, Bates pointed to their long commitment to stewardship of the Reed College Canyon: 'It's the headwaters for Crystal Springs Creek. We're working together with the City of Portland to do what we can with our property to help salmon return to this area, and we're starting to see success.'

'Our students, staff, and faculty donate 25,000 hours each year to the community,' Bates revealed. '7,000 K-12 students come onto the campus or enjoy our programs in their schools. Reed College offers subjects from art and science, and a biology outreach program. We supply all of the equipment, supplies, and instructors, and our students actually teach these classes out in the community.'

Reed College is a private, liberal-arts, nonprofit organization offering baccalaureate degrees and a Master of Arts and Liberal Studies degree as well. To learn more, go online to their website: www.reed.edu .

On the hundredth anniversary, however, academics took a back seat to fun and celebration. A pancake breakfast and the 5K Run for the community kicked off the day, and an elaborate and exciting fireworks display in the 9 pm hour ended it.