History & Description
Reed College was founded in 1908 in accordance with the wills of Portlanders Simeon and Amanda Reed, who amassed their fortune in agriculture, mining, lumber, and the riverboat trade on the Columbia River. They established the college at the urging of prominent Portland Unitarian minister Thomas Lamb Eliot, who visualized an institution where "general enlightenment, intellectual and moral culture" were fundamental- an idea that still thrives at Reed.
An independent, coeducational, nonsectarian college of the liberal arts and sciences, Reed provides one of the nation's most intellectually rigorous undergraduate experiences: students participate in a highly structured curriculum that includes a year-long humanities course, broad distribution requirements, a junior qualifying exam, and a senior thesis with an oral defense before a committee of the faculty. Success at Reed is measured by a student's increased intellectual capabilities, with an emphasis on critical thinking and original thought.
The first graduating class (1915) consisted of 46 students who began their college experience in Fall 1911, in a building in downtown Portland. By 1912, the arts and science and dormitory buildings (Eliot Hall and Old Dorm Block)-designed by architect A.E. Doyle-were completed, and 123 students began taking classes at the campus.
The original decision to make Reed a small, outstanding liberal arts college has been affirmed at every stage of the college's development. Today, a student body of 1,300 represents nearly every state in the union and 20 countries. Reed also offers a master of arts in liberal studies degree, in which approximately 20 students participate each year. There are 130 faculty members, yielding a ten-to-one student-faculty ratio; the average class size is approximately 14 students.
Reed is situated on 116 acres in the middle of the Eastmoreland neighborhood in southeast Portland. A 40-acre parcel of land-a gift from William M. Ladd's Crystal Springs Farm-was designated as the site for the college in 1910. As the college's holdings increased, many wonderful examples of Pacific Northwest indigenous plants, as well as other more exotic species, were added to the campus landscape. At present, there are over 2,000 trees representing more than 125 species. (To learn more about the trees of Reed, visit web.reed.edu/trees.)
Renovations and Construction
Renovations have included the Foster, Scholz, MacNaughton, and cross-canyon residence halls; the psychology building; the theatre annex; and Eliot Hall. The chemistry building was completed in 1992, and extensive renovations and additions took place in the recently completed biology and studio art buildings, and in the Gray Campus Center, including the new Kaul Auditorium. Other recently constructed residence halls include Bragdon, Steele East, and Steele West.
Two academic building projects supporting the school's integrated learning initiative were completed in 2002. Uniting Reed's information technology resources in a $15 million project that included the renovation and expansion of Reed's Eric V. Hauser Library and the construction of a new facility, the educational technology center (ETC). Together the library and ETC form a complementary set of resources that will enhance students' academic experiences and contribute to more effective use of computing technology at Reed.