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Turn of the Century

The Founders

The momentum for Reed College begins with the efforts of Thomas Lamb Eliot, a Unitarian minister and civic leader in Portland, Oregon. In 1887, Eliot suggests to two of his wealthy parishioners, Oregon pioneers Simeon and Amanda Reed, that they use their riches for the betterment of Portland by establishing a Reed Institute of lectures and the arts. Subsequently, when Simeon, who has made his fortune as co-founder of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, dies in 1895, he designates that a portion of his estate go toward furthering the cultural advancement of Portland.

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Amanda amplifies his wishes by directing in her will that a majority of her estate be used to create an institution devoted to “the increase and diffusion of practical knowledge . . . and for the promotion of literature, science and arts.” After Amanda’s death in 1904, a board of trustees led by Eliot and aided by Amanda Reed’s nephew Martin Winch establishes the Reed Institute in 1908 with an endowment of $3 million, mostly in property.

Eliot envisions a new type of liberal arts college that will depart from the traditional model in both its intellectual seriousness and its goal of fostering social change in Portland. He recruits as the institution’s first president a brilliant, 31-year-old professor from Bowdoin College named William Trufant Foster. With degrees from Harvard and Columbia’s Teachers College, Foster sets out to create a college committed to intellectual purity, meritocracy, and public service.

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1900s : A SLIDESHOW

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1900s