As we come to the end of the 2013-14 academic year, I want to thank you for another successful and productive year.
While there were many challenges this year, there were also many successes. Thanks to your hard work and that of the students, we awarded over 6,000 degrees and certificates this year, the largest number of any Oregon university. We served more diverse students than ever: some 29.2 percent of our students this year were underrepresented minorities, compared to 27 percent just last year. Our honors program, which has seen a 268 percent increase in enrollment in the past two years, was elevated to an Honors College. And the number of students enrolling in engineering rose an impressive 14 percent from last year.
We also made tremendous progress on the reTHINK initiative. The first step in that effort -- the Provost's Challenge (http://www.pdx.edu/oai/provosts-challenge) -- has 24 new funded projects, many of which are already beginning to bear fruit. For example, in the STEM area, faculty working to reframe chemistry and biology education at PSU have submitted a three-year, $1.9 million grant application to NSF. Other projects have opened up an online Master of Social Work degree in Community and Leadership Practice (95 students have applied for 40 slots) and automated the process for declaring or changing a degree.
Among the many other notable accomplishments and activities:
- Twenty-nine faculty were awarded tenure and 22 tenure-related faculty and 20 fixed-term faculty were promoted.
- PSU's faculty continued to make advances in research and scholarship. Major grants included a $2 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute award to improve science education and retention and $1.5 million from the Economic Development Administration to fund an energy efficient demonstration project. Our research office also moved to reward and encourage senior, junior and non-tenure track research-active faculty through establishment of three new Faculty Research Excellence Awards.
- Efforts to commercialize the outgrowth of PSU research and innovation continued apace with eight new patents issued to PSU faculty and staff. The total number of university-owned intellectual property licenses increased to 60.
- It was a record year for Fulbright scholarships with seven students from throughout the university as well as faculty from CLAS and one staffer from international affairs receiving the awards.
- The musical talent of our students received worldwide notice when the PSU Chamber Choir, led by conductor Ethan Sperry, became the first U.S. choir in 52 years to win the coveted Grand Prix at Italy's Seghizzi International Choral Competition.
- Services to students continued to improve thanks to the hard work of our enrollment and student affairs staff. Some of the advances included the opening of a Veterans Resource Center, expansion of child care subsidies and other support for students with children, an increase in services for diverse students and establishment of tele-counseling teams to connect with transfer students.
- Our diversity and inclusion team issued PSU's first comprehensive report on the Diversity Action Plan that showed, among other advances, an increase from 12.6 percent to 17.8 percent in faculty and staff of color at PSU. I am also pleased to report that more than 80 percent of all PSU employees have now completed the anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training module.
- Acting in partnership with the diversity office, finance and administration staff worked diligently to increase the number and value of the contracts the university awards to Minority, Women and Emerging Small Businesses (MWESB). A total of 52 contracts worth $8.4 million were awarded to MWESB firms. The finance team was also instrumental in managing the budget rebalancing efforts and laying the groundwork for launching Performance Based Budgeting in 2014-15.
- We were able to mitigate the impact on academic programs of rebalancing the 2014-2015 budget thanks to strategic enrollment efforts that predict $3 million in revenue from increased enrollment. An additional $3 million of reductions was distributed among academic programs to balance the budget and provide a strategic investment pool.
- This year was also very successful on the philanthropy front, with gifts totaling over $35.4 million to date, an increase of 34 percent from the same time last year. These private gifts support PSU's mission of access and excellence through student scholarships, faculty research and community partnerships.
Planning for Next Year
Next year promises to be a busy one. A comprehensive update of PSU's strategic plan will be a focus in the fall and throughout the academic year. Some 90 faculty, staff, students and administrators met in late May to lay the groundwork for the strategic planning process, and we will have a much broader discussion with the entire campus this coming year. Watch for schedules and other details (including a summary of the May retreat) at pdx.edu/president.
We also will continue to work on significant curricular changes through reTHINK PSU to create pathways for success to help the state meet its 40-40-20 goals. And we will host the first group of freshmen who have signed up for our Four-Year Degree Guarantee. PSU is the only public university in Oregon to offer this program.
The recent shootings at Reynolds High School, Seattle Pacific University and near UC-Santa Barbara illustrate the urgency of the discussion that we have planned for the fall on how best to provide a safe campus environment. That conversation will get under way as soon as classes start and is expected to lead to a decision by the end of fall term.
Finally, our strategic alliance with OHSU will take a step forward with the opening of the new Collaborative Life Sciences Building at South Waterfront where PSU faculty, staff and students will work and learn along with faculty, staff and students from OHSU and OSU.
Thank you again for all you do every day to make this wonderful university thrive and grow. Enjoy your summer, and see you all back here in the fall!
Wim Wiewel, President