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From the President: Winter 2012
Author: President Wim Wiewel
Posted: January 18, 2012

Portlanders give high marks to PSU

THE NEW YEAR brings encouraging news that I want to share with you about the rising public perception of Portland State. As we develop our priorities for the future of the University, it’s crucial that we have an accurate understanding of how our community views PSU.

We commissioned a public survey in the fall to determine public awareness and gather opinions about a wide range of issues relating to the University’s reputation. Here are some key findings:

  • 79 percent of those surveyed agreed that PSU provides a quality education to students. Only 7 percent disagreed, and the rest had no opinion.
  • 80 percent of those surveyed consider PSU important to the overall quality of life in the Portland metro area. Only 5 percent disagreed and the rest said they didn’t know or were neutral.
  • 68 percent of those surveyed consider PSU important to attracting and keeping jobs in the Portland metro area. Only 6 percent disagreed, and the rest said they didn’t know or were neutral.
  • Portland State compares favorably to the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. PSU ranks higher in community partnerships and expertise in urban issues such as transportation and about the same when comparing the quality of graduates, faculty, and academic programs.

This data comes from 500 adults in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties who were interviewed in September by Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, a leading public opinion research firm in Portland. 

WHILE THESE POSITIVE perceptions may not surprise those of us familiar with PSU, researchers noted that the findings go against the larger trend of public opinion. Adam Davis, a veteran Oregon public opinion researcher who headed the study, says the strong positives surprised him, given that other polling shows how the public has soured on public institutions and public officials during these tough economic times.

The survey also shows some reputation areas we need to work on. The majority of those surveyed rated UO and OSU higher than PSU in research and campus facilities, and these are two priorities that I’ve identified for our campus going forward. And the survey shows that PSU and higher education in Oregon must do a better job of informing the public about funding. For example, nearly one in five of those surveyed believed that state taxes are the primary source of funding for PSU even though they comprise less than 14 percent of our budget.

The bottom line: We are proud of the increasing public recognition of our quality and impact. The survey not only affirms our rising reputation but also reinforces the areas that we are working to improve.


Wim Wiewel
President, Portland State University