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The Oregonian: Portland State University lands on U.S. News list of growing schools
Author: Jillian Daley, Special to The Oregonian
Posted: September 24, 2012

Read the original story in The Oregonian here. 

Growth in areas including student enrollment and facilities has earned Portland State University a nod from the academic realm: The school was ranked 10th on U.S. News & World Report's Up-and-Coming Schools, National Universities list for 2013. 

PSU is the only university in Oregon on the list, which was established in 2008. Other schools on the list of 19, released Sept. 12, include George Mason University, Tulane University and the University of Southern California. 

PSU also earned a place on the list in 2009. 

Each year, U.S. News, a news publication and rankings service, issues Best Colleges, a variety of school-analyzing lists such as the National Universities rankings, which assess schools on criteria such as student retention. The Up-and-Coming list is based on the results of a peer survey. 

"These rankings reflect a growing recognition among our peers that PSU is an urban research university on the rise," President Wim Wiewel said. "The word is out about our commitment to excellence, community engagement and student success." 

To create the list, college presidents, provosts and admissions deans from across the nation nominated up to 10 colleges "that are making improvements in academics, faculty, students, campus life, diversity and facilities," the U.S. News methodology description reads. 

PSU has gained ground in these areas the past few years. 

The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation awarded it a 10-year, $25 million challenge grant in 2008, the largest gift in the university's history. The grant supports research projects, community partnerships, student scholarships, faculty positions and more. 

The university recently has bolstered its teaching staff, hiring 102 faculty members last school year and 55 this year, according to its human resources department. 

During the past 10 years, the student body has expanded by more than 47 percent. It is projected to grow by an additional 2 percent this year to 30,300 undergraduate and graduate students, PSU spokesman John Kirkland said. It also has the highest enrollment of any university in Oregon. 

Diversity also is on the rise. The number of international students rose from 1,872 in fall 2010 to 1,937 in fall 2011, up almost 3.5 percent, Kirkland said. Another increase of international students is expected this year. 

A new residence hall, University Pointe at College Station, opens this fall, increasing the number of beds on campus by 978 and bringing the total to about 3,000, Kirkland said. 

The Academic and Student Recreation Center opened in January 2010 and can accommodate 7,000 to 8,000 students. 

U.S. News also again included PSU in a second tier of rankings for Best Colleges, National University. In that listing, U.S. News groups nearly 70 schools outside its top 200 without a more specific ranking. The publication has recognized PSU for 10 years for its strong service-learning programs, in which students learn while volunteering, and for its senior capstone program. During a capstone course, juniors and seniors step out of the classroom and into the field to develop a community project. 

"It's an incredible program," said Matthew Collins, Outdoor Environmental Education capstone course instructor. "It could be a model for other schools throughout the country." 

Psychology major Francine Tomas said her life changed after she participated in PSU's Learning From Persons with Disabilities capstone course at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp. As a junior, Tomas was a Kiwanis Camp counselor for people with disabilities. She returned during her senior year as a counselor and plans to attend as an assistant counselor supervisor next year. 

The program so inspired Tomas, who graduates in 2013, that she also is looking into acquiring a certificate of education for working with people with high-functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome. Tomas had been planning on pursuing a career in counseling juvenile delinquents, but she now intends to be a social worker in the disabilities field. 

"It's literally like something hits you," Tomas said. "I need to be here. This is my calling."

Learn more
For more information on the rankings, visit usnews.com/colleges

-- Jillian Daley