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Michael Saba Endowed Scholarship

The College is saddened to share that one of our alumni, Michael Saba, lost his battle with cancer on March 21st. He earned a Master of Urban Studies from PSU and retired from his long and rewarding career as senior planner for housing policy for the City of Portland in 2003.

To see Michael's full obituary, please see the Oregonian.

Before his passing, Michael made a generous gift to endow a new scholarship at the College. He was kind enough to share with us why this gift was so important to him, in his own words.  If you would like to contribute to the Michael Saba Endowed Scholarship fund, you can make a gift online at the PSU Foundation or contact Trish Hamilton at (503) 725-5209 or


It’s summer 2011 in Portland and I recount my blessings to a friend at lunch.  I have a great life as a retiree, a wonderful life companion, and a beautiful house which we intend to be our forever residence.  But, as I often say superstitiously, “Sometimes I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop because I can‘t be this lucky forever.”

During the previous months, I experienced sporadic difficulty swallowing food.  As this happened more frequently I consulted my primary doctor who recommended an endoscopy to determine the problem.  Both he and the subsequent providers who conducted the procedure counseled me on the potential causes of the problem.  No one mentioned the most dreaded diagnosis, cancer.  As I awoke from the procedure, my partner tearfully told me I had stage four cancer of the esophagus, an inoperable tumor giving me probably four more months of life if untreated. 

After the initial shock and a few shed tears, my mind raced to settle my finances with my partner and to carry out longstanding charitable goals.  Among the institutions I wanted to support were the public library and the Equity Foundation of Portland.  But chief among these was the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University. 

Why PSU?  I earned a Master of Urban Studies (MUS) degree in 1979.  That degree, supported by graduate assistantships, made possible a long and rewarding career as a City Planner for Portland.  PSU expanded my academic exposure beyond my undergraduate English and Political Science majors by opening up the worlds of economics, physical geography, research design, and public administration, all skills that proved invaluable during my twenty year tenure with the City.  I continue to remember fondly several professors and fellow students whom I encountered during the two year degree program. 

Inspired by the Ernie Bonner Endowed Scholarship Fund, I contacted the College of Urban and Public Affairs and started the process to set up the Michael P. Saba Endowed Scholarship Fund for PSU graduate students “who love cities and are dedicated to improving urban life, both locally and globally.” 

The primary impetus for this fund is to express my gratitude for the financial assistance afforded by the government during a more generous and enlightened era of public policy.  I consider it a disgrace that so many college students begin their careers under the burdensome debt of student loans.  I hope that this scholarship fund helps address this problem in some small way.