Alumni Connections: Fall 2008
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: September 25, 2008

It's great to be a Viking

A FEW YEARS AFTER I dropped out of college to "find myself" and enter the work force, I came to appreciate the importance of a college education as a platform for future ambitions in life. Enter Portland State University.

Jeff Austin, president of PSU Alumni AssociationAfter several years of night classes, I graduated with a BS in psychology. (I was then working in the field of mental health.) PSU provided me the opportunity to grow up, stretch my mind, meet interesting people, and obtain an undergraduate education that provided the necessary foundation for attending law school and embarking on a 25-year career as a lawyer at Miller Nash LLP. Thank you PSU!

When I graduated in 1977, PSU afforded many "nontraditional" students like me the opportunity for a solid education. It was a great time to be a Viking.

Over the years, PSU has undergone significant growth and change, offering many more academic studies, disciplines, and degrees to both traditional and nontraditional students. The future is very bright for PSU. It is now the largest university in Oregon, with nearly 25,000 students and 4,738 degrees conferred in the 2007-08 academic year. Many civic and business leaders of Oregon are among its alumni, and PSU is an important partner with many constituencies in the Portland metropolitan area. With new president Dr. Wim Wiewel, PSU offers even greater promise for future growth in excellence and stature.

Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of being on the board of the Portland State University Alumni Association and giving a little back to the institution that provided me the opportunity to enjoy whatever success I have achieved. The Alumni Association serves approximately 125,000 alumni. As a board member, I have met many women and men who are passionate about PSU and who had similar experiences at PSU in gaining the necessary skills and experiences for success in life.

I encourage all PSU alumni to get involved (or perhaps reacquainted) with PSU: join the Alumni Association, take a class, attend PSU weekend October 18-19, or take advantage of the many lectures, art exhibits, athletic or performing arts events on campus. It is a great time to be a Viking!

Jeff Austin '77 - President, PSU Alumni Association

Ambassador to Qatar sworn in on campus

WASHINGTON, D.C., is the usual setting for the pomp and circumstance surrounding new ambassadorships. Alumnus Joseph E. LeBaron chose Portland State, however, for his official swearing-in as new U.S. ambassador to the Middle East country of Qatar. Fellow sociology alumnus, Paul DeMuniz '72, chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, presided over the July ceremony.

Joseph E. LeBaronJoining LeBaron at the campus event was his wife, Elinor (Drake) LeBaron '67; their daughter, Petra; and family, friends, other alumni, and PSU Qatari students. The following day he spoke at a dinner of PSU Gulf Cooperation Council alumni representatives from Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia. The hundreds of council alumni hold yearly reunions in the Gulf States.

A career diplomat, LeBaron, 60, is well suited to the new senior post. He earned a doctorate in Near Eastern studies from Princeton and has held previous embassy assignments in Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, and Bahrain, as well as top state department posts in Washington, D.C. He speaks French, Turkish, Persian, and fluent Arabic.

Photo by Andie Petkus

Calling class of '58

CELEBRATE 50 years with the class of 1958 with a dinner, tours, and other events October 15-19 in conjunction with PSU Weekend. Betty Roberts '58 is the keynote dinner speaker, and Gary Coats '58 is heading the reunion committee. To contact Coats, call 503-761-1513 or e-mail

Board changes

Four alumni recently retired from the PSU Alumni Board of Directors as their terms came to an end. The Alumni Association gives special thanks to hard-working and stellar alumni: Donna Derington '79, Komi Kalevor '88, Terry Pinnell '01, and Ann Takamura MPA '97.

Derington, owner of Bella Norte on North Mississippi Avenue, served as chair of the Marketing Committee. Kalevor, Portland Development Commission, was chair of the Connections Committee. Pinnell, principal of TAP Resources, chaired PSU Weekend two years running. Takamura, owner of an accounting firm, served on the Advocates and Finance committees.

New members joining the board are Chris Cooper MBA '06, a project manager with The Standard; David Keys '81, MBA '92, a vice president with Norris & Stevens, Inc.; and Tamara "TJ" Newby '90, investment broker.

Alumni Board officers for 2008-2009 include President Jeff Austin '77, former attorney with Miller Nash; Vice President Kori Allen '84, portfolio manager and principal with Coldstream Capital Management; and Treasurer Behzad Hosseini '96, MBA '97, a general manager with Portland General Electric.

Alumni Membership spotlight

Susan BrickeySusan Brickey '77, lifetime member

When Susan Brickey enrolled at Portland State, she was 28, the average student age at the time. With age comes wisdom, and Brickey took full advantage of her education by earning bachelor degrees in both social science and history. She also served in student government and was an intern for the 1977 Oregon Legislature. Today, Brickey is a retired health care administrator. We recently pinned down the avid traveler to talk about Portland State and her lifetime membership in the PSU Alumni Association.

Q: When you think of the PSU Alumni Association, what comes to mind?
A: Camaraderie, fun, networking, growth, and, of course, commitment. Many of our alumni are really committed to Portland State!
Q: Why did you decide to become a life member of the Alumni Association?
A: Staying in touch with PSU keeps me informed on what's going on in Portland and around the world—a perspective that you can't get from any other medium. We have so many international members in the PSU community willing to share their global perspective. The benefits are good too!
Q: Of all the PSUAA member benefits, which are you most excited about?
A: I'm really excited to see the Oregon Historical Society benefit, and I've also been wanting to see a performance from Whitebird Dance. Or maybe the PSU Bookstore benefit is my favorite. It's also nice to have PSU memorabilia, and I've worn out some of my sweatshirts!
Q: Why do you think it's important for alumni to stay connected to their alma mater?
A: It is a missed opportunity if someone does not stay connected. You gain so much, and if a person wants to continue to have personal growth, their university is a great center from which to do that. Even for alumni who have moved far away, it's important to stay connected to a place that was a big part of your life. I'm grateful in so many ways to Portland State, and the Alumni Association serves as my main connection to PSU.

To learn more about the benefits of the PSUAA membership program and to join, visit