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John Kroger inaugurated as 15th President of Reed College

An art exhibition, music, dinner, and fireworks accompanied the September 21st inauguration of former Oregon Attorney General John R. Kroger as 15th President of Reed College. Although Kroger had been Acting President since July, the ceremony served to officially introduce and welcome him to the campus.

The event was celebrated under white tents on the Great Lawn. Reed’s impressive Rose Festival parade float Griffin, constructed completely of organic materials and seeds, was rolled out for the occasion. Delegates from over 50 institutions arrived in academic regalia to honor Kroger, who remarked, “I’ve been touched by the welcoming community here. There’s no honor greater and more exciting than being here at Reed.”

by: RITA A. LEONARD - Former Oregon Attorney General John R. Kroger was inaugurated as the 15th President of Reed College on Friday, September 21st.Kroger was selected from hundreds of candidates as someone who recognized the unique character of the small liberal arts college. “I revere the intellectual life of the mind at Reed, he explained. “Here we learn how to write and talk about ideas and values, practicing how to be creative with a rebellious ‘touch of a poet’. Liberal Arts doesn’t prepare you for your first job, but rather for your next sixty years.”

The inaugural program began with a poem, “Weather Conditions”, written and read by Prof. Lisa Steinman. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley had planned to present an inaugural speech, but sent his regrets after being held over in Washington, D.C. for congressional duties. Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler took his place, accompanied by an impressive slate of educators.

Local business executive Jordan Schnitzer spoke warmly about art, the economy, and the nation's leadership. "This country is becoming divided between the haves and the have-nots," he said. “Access to a college education is the answer and the challenge. John Kroger has the vision and entrepreneurial spirit to change Reed College for the better.”

Dr. Jane McAuliffe, president of Bryn Mawr College, spoke at length about the value of Liberal Arts colleges. “They are distinctively American institutions, beacons of creativity and intellectual rigor. They are committed to critical thinking and learning, and are incubators of knowledge. Small colleges such as Reed and Bryn Mawr have a sacred trust in nurturing Liberal Arts values. I salute your splendid choice of John R. Kroger as Reed’s new President.”

Roger M. Perlmutter, Chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees, then presented Kroger with four inaugural gifts, including a Reed College medallion with his name and the date. Then it was Kroger’s turn at the podium. He observed that philosophy studies he had pursued at Yale were just like what happens at Reed every day, “where leaders and visionaries are created”. He remarked that most educational institutions honored sports teams more than their physics labs, and drew laughs when he added, “Here at Reed, we have no sports teams, but we have a wonderful physics department.” Kroger said that Reed pours massive amounts of financial aid into assisting the student body. “Fully 50% of our students receive some measure of funding. This is an awesome community, and I’m passionate about the ‘life of the mind’ that is practiced here.”

Following the ceremony, guests proceeded to an outdoor dining pavilion, where dining upon salmon, roast beef, and vegetarian selections was accompanied by music and dancing under the stars. A fireworks display climaxed the occasion.