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Park Blocks: Winter 2011
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: February 1, 2011

OHSU Tram

PSU and OHSU join forces

A NEW RESEARCH and educational powerhouse spanning the distance from the Park Blocks to Marquam Hill is ready to make an impact for Oregonians.

Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University recently announced a formal alliance following a yearlong study.

A 24-member task force, appointed by the presidents of both schools, investigated the best ways the two universities could work together to achieve excellence in education and research while leveraging limited state resources. A merger was considered, but the task force determined that the high up-front costs would divert focus and funds from the universities’ core educational and public service missions. An alliance, on the other hand, will result not only in better programs, but also in cost savings and increased revenue, the task force found.

Drop Tower

Drop into space

Experiments that require a near weightless environment—like those performed in space—are now possible in the University’s new 102-foot tall drop tower in the engineering building. The new tower supports collaborative research with NASA.

A highlight of its recommendations was a proposal for a joint School of Public Health that will bring PSU’s community health program together with OHSU’s health practitioners and disease researchers. Other proposals include producing a combined research portfolio of more than $450 million per year, and coordinating K-12 science education outreach to grow interest in health care and science careers. Continued collaboration in health-related science and engineering fields, as well as the up-and-coming bioinformation field, are also planned.

The two universities, together with Oregon State University, are already collaborating on a new life science building in Portland’s South Waterfront district that will house OHSU’s School of Medicine, OSU’s School of Pharmacy, and PSU’s Departments of Biology and Chemistry among other programs.

Photo: A new alliance between PSU and OHSU is more than just a tram connection. Together, the two universities contribute about $5 billion and 41,000 jobs to the region. Photo by Ron Cooper ’64.


Combining the Peace Corps and education

GROWING UP in Portland, Linda Centurion MS ’07 never knew anyone who had served in the Peace Corps. But the Catholic school graduate hungered for international work experience and the opportunity to immerse herself in another culture.

The two years Centurion spent in Paraguay as a special education teacher for the Peace Corps provided just that opportunity. It also taught her what it was like to live on $112 a month, take bucket baths, and walk an hour to teach in a one-room schoolhouse.

Now a counselor at Barlow High School in Gresham, Centurion is telling her students about a new program at Portland State that combines Peace Corps experience with earning a master’s degree.

The University recently joined the Peace Corps Master’s International program as an educational partner—the only one in Portland. Students spend one to two years in school and another 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer. Applicants must first apply for PSU graduate admission and then apply to the Peace Corps, which can be a long process.

The process is worth it, says Centurion, who describes her service in the Peace Corps as “life changing.” She is one of 662 PSU graduates who have volunteered since 1961.

Read about some of their experiences and see art and photos that Centurion and others brought back at an exhibit celebrating “Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Service,” March 1 through June 12 at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park, Portland.

Pieces from Guatemala and Samoa

These pieces from Guatemala and Samoa were brought back by Peace Corps volunteers who are sharing their mementos and their stories at an Oregon Historical Society exhibit, March 1 through June 12. Peace Corps volunteers may now earn a master’s degree through a new PSU program

Named for a rabbi and pioneering scholar

RABBI JOSHUA STAMPFER forged new territory in 1961 when he taught PSU’s first Judaic studies class. Now, the University has named a new Judaic studies professorship after Stampfer, who led Congregation Neveh Shalom in southwest Portland for four decades.

Rabbi Joshua Stampfer

A new professorship honors longtime Portland Rabbi Joshua Stampfer.

The professorship will be the Pacific Northwest’s only designated professorship in Israel studies and the fourth tenure-line faculty position in the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies.

“For me, the fulfillment of the professor of Israel Studies is truly the realization of a dream,” Stampfer said. “A university campus is the best venue for measured dialogue, debate, learning, and understanding, especially concerning complex topics like Israel.”

Stampfer, now rabbi emeritus at Neveh Shalom, has left his mark on local and national organizations. He is a board member of the National Peace Now Organization as well as an appointee on the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. In 1983, he was one of the earliest visitors to Kaifeng, China, where he met with descendants of the ancient Jewish community there.

The Judaic Studies program at the University was established eight years ago through a Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation $1 million challenge grant. Students in the program examine all aspects of the history, religion, culture, and social and political foundations of the Jewish people.