The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

“The Ultimate Prospie”

President John Kroger was inaugurated with special gifts, a poetry reading, and many speeches last Friday, Sept. 21. He will be the fifteenth president of Reed College succeeding Colin Diver. The ceremony had a budget of $200,000, says treasurer Ed McFarlane, who estimates that it was slightly under budget. This included a fireworks show with a budget of $6,000.

Colin Diver, who was present for the ceremony, was president from 2002-2012 and very well-regarded among students and staff leaving Kroger with some big shoes to fill. Diver said of Kroger, “He’s a bundle of energy and a fabulous guy and he’s going be a wonderful president. He reminds me of what I was like when I was 47 or whatever age he is.” Diver says he has no doubt in his mind that Kroger will do a wonderful job.

There were many different speakers all who gave their own opinions on what was special about Reed and what Kroger would add to it. The speech that received the most laughs was given by Student Body President Brian Moore, who said Kroger “has the mindset of an extremely accomplished widely read student,” thus making him the “ultimate prospie.”

The speakers agreed that Kroger will make a great president. Oregon State Treasurer, Ted Wheeler spoke of his “unshakeable moral compass.”  Local businessman and philanthropist Jordan D. Schnister called Kroger “a visionary.” Chair of the college’s Board of Trustees Roger Perlmutter called the role of the president a “sacred trust.” He referred to the ceremony as a “series of welcomes to give him [Kroger] a sense of this community,” as Kroger has been president since July.

The speeches showed the varying differences in what people believe it means to be President and how Kroger would affect Reed. What they all agreed on however was that Kroger was a good fit for Reed and would work to uphold its mission, not change it.

Kroger received three gifts from the school. One was a bottle found in the canyon and filled with canyon water, a metaphor of the intellectual and spiritual journey one undergoes at Reed College. Second, a first edition of the Illiad, and third, a calligraphic work by Robert J. Palladino reading, “Vita Contemplativa” (life of the mind) and Kroger’s name.

Kroger’s speech included his own oral edition of the “Why Reed?” essay that all applicants must write. Kroger’s own parents had wanted him to go to state school and be an accountant, not seeing the value in the liberal art education. In the end Kroger ended up at Yale where he got put in a liberal-arts program, “directed studies” that changed his life. There he learned to write and fell in love with philosophy. It taught him the value of a liberal arts education. Understanding he importance of what Reed College does, Kroger has promised “to nurture and protect” all the makes Reed unique.


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