Selecting Portland State's first president
John F. Cramer, was dean of the Oregon State General Extension Division when he was named the first president of Portland State in 1955.
Attaining college status required choosing Portland State's first president. Two key administrators, John F. Cramer and Stephen E. Epler, were interested in the position. Epler, who had led the creation and administration of Vanport Extension Center, as well as efforts to establish and achieve college status for Portland State, had strong support from many faculty, students, and citizens in the Portland area. Cramer, dean of the state's General Extension Division, served as Epler's superior and oversaw efforts leading to the creation of Portland State College. Because of his position and lengthy experience, Cramer was well known statewide, had earned support from the State Board of Higher Education and the chancellor, and was considered the logical choice by Portland's major newspapers.
The state board appointed Cramer as Portland State's first president, and he was inaugurated on October 23, 1955. Cramer ably served a short term of three years as the college's president. He resigned in 1958 to assume a teaching role as professor of education at Portland State. Epler, having established himself in Portland as a "rising star" in college administration, moved on to a successful and lengthy career in higher education in California.