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Looking Back: Spring 2007
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: May 24, 2007

Joseph C. BlumelJoseph C. Blumel

Portland State University President 1974 to 1986

HIS COLLEAGUES THREW their support behind him and on May 22, 1974, Joseph Blumel became the fourth president of Portland State—the first to have come up through the ranks.

The quiet economics professor was perceived by his fellow faculty members—and the state board—as the right kind of leader to take the young university to maturity. He had already won the faculty’s affection with his accessibility and fairness as vice president of academic affairs.

President Blumel was put to the test. He faced a severe budget crisis in 1981-82 and the painful necessity of laying off tenured faculty and terminating whole programs. He came through it, and people remember that period as his finest.

There were, of course, happier hours. Instead of an inauguration, the new president declared a week of activities in observance of the “vital partnership” he envisioned between PSU and the city of Portland. It was to be a theme through his 12-year tenure as president, reflected in the many new programs with urban flavor that cropped up at the University.

This is from a 1986 PSU Perspective article. Joseph Blumel, PSU’s longest-term president ever, died April 2. He was 79.