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Our History
When World War II ended in 1945, the surge of returning veterans triggered demand for greater opportunities for higher education in Portland. The result was an institution called Vanport Extension Center, which was established in 1946. Nine years later, after a devastating flood and years of political struggle, it became Portland State College.

Creating Portland State 1946-1955

Celebration of end WWII

Celebrating end of World War II in Portland. (August 1945.) (Oregon Historical Society, No. 84845.)


Today's Portland State University grew from the convergence of the World War II GI Bill, which gave returning veterans money to help pay for college; Vanport, a city built to house wartime shipyard workers that promised cheap housing and ready services to the citizens after the war; a raging Columbia River that flooded Vanport City in 1948; and the leadership and insight of Stephen E. Epler, Portland State's Founder.