PSU awards nearly 5,800 degrees to class of 2016 at Moda Center
Author: University Communications
Posted: June 12, 2016

Portland State University awarded an estimated 5,785 degrees in two back-to-back ceremonies today at the Moda Center. Graduates came from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 56 nations, and ranged in age from 19 to 80 years old.

Twenty-nine percent of the bachelor’s degrees went to students of underrepresented minorities, reflecting the university’s growing diversity. President Wim Wiewel, addressing the graduates, called the Class of 2016 “one of the biggest, most diverse and coolest graduating classes in the state of Oregon.”

“I look around and I see single parents who struggled to balance home life with homework, but stuck with it,” he said. “I see hundreds who are the first in their families to earn a degree. One out of three of you getting bachelor’s degrees are students of color. And nearly two out of three of you getting master’s degrees are women.” 

Wiewel gave a special shout-out to the oldest and the youngest members of the Class of ’16: Roger Hatefi, 80, who received her bachelor’s degree in art practices; and Diana Tsurkan, 19, who is the daughter of Eastern European immigrants and the first in her family to get a college degree. She earned he associate’s degree while still in high school, majored in psychology at PSU, and is now headed to Willamette Law School. 

Other speakers included The Honorable Paul J. De Muniz, a PSU alumnus who was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2000 and served as chief justice and administrative head of the Oregon Judicial Branch from January 2006 to May 2012; and Jeffrey D. Sachs, a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior United Nations advisor, bestselling author and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries.

2016 class snapshot

  • The university will award approximately 4,150 bachelor's, 1,550 master's, and 85 doctoral degrees.
  • Twenty-nine percent of the bachelor’s degrees will go to students of underrepresented minorities, reflecting the university’s growing diversity. Portland State has the most diverse student body of any university in Oregon.
  • Top bachelor's degrees: psychology, health studies and social science
  • Top master's degrees: social work, education, electrical and computer engineering
  • Out-of-state students come primarily from Washington, California and Hawaii. International students come primarily from India, China and Saudi Arabia
  • 55 percent of bachelor's graduates, 61 percent of master’s graduates and 48 percent of Ph.D. graduates are female.

Watch the event: Live video of the commencement ceremonies is available on and will be rebroadcasted Sunday, June 19, from noon to 6 p.m. on Oregon Public Broadcasting (Comcast and Verizon ch. 10).