Reed College began its first classes in 1911 with 50 students—26 men and 24 women—and five faculty members. Committed to intellectual rigor and meritocracy; rejecting intercollegiate sports and fraternal societies; and imbued with a sense of academic freedom and nonconformity, Reed has over the past one hundred years served as a groundbreaking model of the liberal arts while consistently providing one of the best academic experiences in America.
Under the inspiration and guidance of Reed’s founding president, William Trufant Foster, the college set out to build a democratic community without regard for nationality, gender, religion, race, or class. No fundamental distinctions were made between students and faculty in what was called “the quest for truth.” Men and women were expected to do original work in a major subject area—the senior thesis. A principle of honor governed all aspects of campus life.
These fundamental policies and the convictions that support them have branded Reed as one of the most distinguished and demanding colleges in the country. They have also generated a fair amount of social and political controversy. Weathering a reputation for being pacifist during the First World War, radically traditional in its curriculum, and independent even in the highly competitive world of college admissions, Reed has thrived in its steadfast devotion to its founding principles.
This website celebrates the champions of Reed’s history—not only the visionaries who founded the college but also the community members who have upheld its core values. As Reed prepares for its second century, this long record of achievement and struggle inspires us to keep alive the ideals that have become synonymous with Reed College.