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Roy W. Koch | Welcome Letter 2005

August 31, 2005

Dear Colleague:

It is my pleasure to welcome you back for the 2005-06 academic year. This is an exciting time in the history of Portland State University. We serve more students than any other Oregon university and we have gained regional and national recognition for our undergraduate and graduate programs. U.S. News & World Report has again identified us as one of the "Universities to Look For", based on our approach to undergraduate education. We have been recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the "Best Colleges in the West," and we are identified nationally among a select number of colleges and universities labeled "Colleges with a Conscience" as a result of our community-based learning and other civic engagement activities. Such acknowledgements of our success and the resulting attraction for prospective students are due to the commitment of faculty and staff to our educational mission and values.

This continued recognition has resulted in unprecedented growth over the past several years and for many of us we feel overwhelmed at times by our own success. My having experienced that feeling as both a faculty member and department chair and my desire to address some of the underlying issues were, in part, what motivated my application for the provost position. I appreciate the confidence President Bernstine placed in me with my appointment and the responsibility that goes along with it. My selection brings to mind one of my grandfather's favorite comments: "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." In this case, I'm happy to have been selected and will do my best to serve the faculty, staff and students at PSU as we work together to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.

In that regard, it's clear that there are many things to attend to, and most, but not all, are related to our recent growth and the related issue of marshaling the resources to support our programs. The following are just a few areas that I believe require our immediate attention and that we will address in the coming year (in no particular order):

  • Faculty salaries
  • Building the tenure-track faculty ranks
  • Establishing academic priorities as a basis for allocating resources
  • Restructuring and improving research administration and support
  • Extending the campus (including distance education and community college strategies)

And we can't forget accreditation. In October, we will host a visit from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities as we seek the ten-year reaffirmation of our institutional accreditation. Although the visiting team will interact principally with the steering committee and administration, I would urge each of you to visit the accreditation self-study, presented as an electronic portfolio at http://portfolio.pdx.edu/Accreditation_Executive_Summary/. I think of this as a "user's manual" for Portland State University and indeed, it includes everything you ever wanted to know. We should all express our appreciation to the Steering Committee, Chair Sherril Gelmon, Vice Provost Terry Rhodes, and Kathi Ketcheson, director of Institutional Research and Planning, for their effective development of this unique self-study.

I want to highlight some of the achievements of last year. It is rewarding to know that we are making significant progress in developing our campus infrastructure, establishing new academic programs, and increasing research funding. Notable examples include the continued construction of the new home for the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. We're expecting the building to be completed in December of this year, in large part due to the generosity of one of our alumni. New doctoral programs will enhance our contributions to knowledge and educational opportunities offered to the community. A Ph.D. in Applied Psychology was approved by the Board. Two Ph.D. programs - one in Biology and the other in Technology Management - are scheduled for external review by OUS, and a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Inequity has been submitted to OUS for consideration. As one measure of our scholarly achievement, external funding exceeded $35M last year; this represents a nearly 200% increase over the past 10 years. On the national scene, President Bernstine made the headlines when he received the Michael P. Malone Award by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges for his innovative leadership in internationalization. We can be proud of these and many other individuals and activities that distinguished PSU and moved us forward in the last year.

In addition to our talented staff and new faculty who will be introduced at Fall Convocation, a number of administrative positions were successfully filled last year, some with familiar faces. Kristi Nelson was selected as the dean of the Graduate School of Social Work. She served as the interim dean last year and has been a faculty member and associate dean in the school. Helen Spalding joins us as university librarian having served as associate director of libraries at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. After seven years of academic leadership at PSU, Dean Phyllis Edmundson, Graduate School of Education, has retired. Carol Mack, her associate dean, has been appointed the interim dean while a national search is being conducted. Larry Wallack, dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs, is chairing the search committee. Lindsay Desrochers will begin her appointment in December as vice president for Finance and Administration, a post she held from 1991-95. Most recently she has served as the vice chancellor for administration at the University of California at Merced where she has been responsible for building the first new UC campus in 40 years. I look forward to working with these new colleagues, with Lindsay again, and with another former colleague, Jay Kenton, who was appointed as vice chancellor for Finance and Administration of the Oregon University System. Jay is a former vice president of Finance and Administration at PSU.

The year ahead will be busy. To help us get a good start, I invite you to participate in the opening fall events described in the side bar at the top of this letter. Please note that the Fall Symposium asks for your electronic RSVP. I hope you can join us in our discussion of Building Knowledge through Local and Global Engagement.

I look forward to seeing each of you in the opening weeks of the quarter and working with you throughout the year ahead.

Sincerely,

Roy W. Koch
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs