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November 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to the second Family Newsletter of the 2011-12 academic year! To read PSU articles, use the menu below to navigate this page.

We will send reminder e-mails on the days that Family Newsletters become available. If you would like to be added to this e-mail reminder list, please either visit to subscribe or e-mail

Our goal with each Family Newsletters is to keep you informed of opportunities for your student at PSU, important policy changes, and other information that might help you support your student. If you have general questions or would like more information on a topic, please contact us at


Student Spotlight: Women Vikings Basketball Team | From the Desk of the Dean of Student Life | PSU Research: Electric Avenue | Upcoming Campus Events | Staff Spotlight: Phil Zerzan, Director, Campus Public Safety | Money Matters: Don't Forget the FAFSA! | Housing Info for Winter Term | Immigration Options After Graduation | Spotlight on: Student Health and Counseling | Campus Updates

Student Spotlight: Women's Viking Basketball Team

Coach and PlayersThe Portland State Women's Vikings basketball team is a perfect combination of athletically talented and academically motivated. They mastered their last season, winning 11 out of their last 12 conference games, and managed to sweep the Montana schools to take home the trophy in the 2010-2011 Big Sky Conference. To make their first conference title even better, Sherri Murrell, the team's head coach, was named co-Big Sky Coach of the year in 2011. The team's athletic skill maintains; in their first two games of the 2011-2012 season, they've beaten UC Irvine (80-76) and defeated UC Santa Barbara (65-51). The win over Irvine was a factor in naming senior guard Eryn Jones Player of the Week for the week of November 15, 2011. Even more impressive than the team's current stats is its commitment to academic excellence. The team maintains a cumulative 3.3 GPA and three players--Guard Eryn Jones, Post Stephanie Egwuatu, and Forward Karley Lampman--were presented All-Academic Team Honors for the Big Sky Conference. With a practice or game almost every day of the week, the team is proof that students can have an excellent academic standing even with the most demanding schedule. Students and families can cheer on the Lady Vikings at the Peter W. Stott center throughout the season. Ticket information can be found here.

From the Desk of the Dean of Student Life

"Good Citizens Are The Riches Of A City."
--C.E. S. Wood

One of our greatest assets is the people who make this campus tick. Toward that end, we have redesigned the Family Newsletter in order to make sure that you not only hear about important campus initiatives and updates, but also that you get to meet the folks who serve as the heart and soul of our campus life: our students, faculty, and staff.

You will find in this inaugural edition of the redesigned newsletter-and in each subsequent edition- features focusing on individual students and groups of students, members of our staff and faculty, and examples of the exciting areas of research that PSU scholars are pursuing. The Newsletter will also provide specific information related to "Money Matters", such as FAFSA information and deadlines, tips on budgeting for college students, and insider tips and suggestions regarding employment opportunities for students. There will also be sections dedicated to specific campus resources and other timely campus updates, such as planned infrastructure improvements and construction, as well as notices about campus closures and other important campus time lines.

The above quote, inscribed on the base of Portland's Skidmore Fountain located near the beautiful Burnside Bridge, is often evoked as one of the unofficial mottos for the city of Portland. We believe this to be true at Portland State University also. The students, staff, and faculty at Portland State University are where the learning, hopes, and dreams of our learning community live. We hope that by helping you to get to know the PSU community better, you will know you have partners here who are deeply committed to the success of your PSU student. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions for future editions of the Family Newsletter.

All the best,
Michele Toppe; 503.725.4422

PSU Research: Electric Avenue

Electric Avenue, which was launched on the campus of Portland State University in August 2011, represents PSU's focus on sustainability and community partnerships. Electric vehicle drivers can access charging stations--powered by renewable energy from Portland General Electric--on SW Montgomery Street at no cost except for standard downtown parking rates.

Electric Avenue is a two-year research project for the University, focusing on where drivers of electric cars are coming from (if they're pulling off the interstate or coming to campus for classes), what they do while they charge up (do they wait or grab a cup of coffee across the street), and how this information can be used to educate and encourage other drivers to consider the electric alternative for their driving needs. The Electric Avenue website provides further information, including a map for self-guided tours of all the environmentally friendly transit opens in Portland, a list of upcoming events, and video of the opening ceremony. You can visit the website.

Upcoming Campus Events

11/28--The Association of African Students will hold a discussion panel for people to communicate and share their opinion about what is going on in Africa. It will be held in Smith Memorial Student Union at 4:00 P.M.
11/29--The PSU Christians United for Israel will welcome Col. Bentzi Gruber of the Israeli Defense Forces to discuss Middle East peace. All students interested in Israel advocacy are welcome. The discussion will be held in Smith Memorial Student Union, room 388 (also known as the Vanport Room) from 7:30-9:00 P.M.

12/1--The Portland Rotaract Club will have a table with baked goods for sale as part of the Annual AIDS Awareness Day. All proceeds will go towards the Cascade AIDS Project, and students can stop by the table to get information about other events throughout the day. The sale will be held on Parkway North and go from 10:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M.
12/1--The Association of African Students presents the Annual AIDS Awareness Day with discussion about how to get to zero: Zero AIDS-related death, Zero New Infection, and Zero Stigma and Discrimination. This discussion will be held in Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 338 (also known as the Cascade Room) from 4:00-8:00 P.M.
12/2--The Women's Resource Center (WRC) will have Orientation for Winter 2011 Volunteers (new and returning) who are interested in working the front desk or becoming an action team member. Students should make certain they have completed and sent their WRC Volunteer Registration Form (available here) before they attend. Orientation will be held in the WRC from 10:30 A.M.-5:00 P.M.
12/6--The Viking Vets (students who are military veterans and attending PSU) have a meeting. Students can learn how to get involved with the program. A social hour at a local restaurant typically follows the meeting. The meeting will be held in the Women's Resource Center (in the basement of Montgomery Hall) from 6:00-7:00 P.M.

1/19--Party Near the Park is an event where students can learn about student organizations and other ways to get involved on campus. Free food and entertainment are provided. The event will take place in Smith Memorial Student Union from 11:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M.

Staff Spotlight: Phil Zerzan, Director, Campus Public Safety

Phil Zerzan came on board as Chief of Campus Public Safety in the summer of 2011 in the latest chapter of his impressive career working in law enforcement. Phil has spent the last eight years creating safe and positive environments for college students, both on campuses in Oregon and around the world.

Phil served as an Oregon State Police Trooper from 1978 until 1994. He became a detective in the criminal division of the Oregon State Police Troopers from 1994-2001 and then served as a Sergeant in Springfield, Oregon until 2003. In November of 2003, he stepped into the blended world of college life and law enforcement as Area Commander, responsible for providing all Law Enforcement Services for Oregon State Police at Oregon State University. In the fall of 2008, Phil ventured into adventurous waters, serving as the Conduct Officer for Semester at Sea, a position that took him all over the world on a sea-going vessel with approximately 500 students into ports of call such as Cape Town, South Africa and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Portland State University was fortunate to hire Phil once he returned home to Oregon this past year. In the short six months since Phil's arrival, he has forged meaningful connections with students, staff, and faculty and created a campus-wide vision for a campus safety program that is based in trust, understanding, and relationships. His passion for student success and learning contribute in many ways to our educational community. He has three children, two kids who have graduated from college. His youngest daughter is currently in the process of finishing her BA at PSU. Phil also earned his BA while working at OSU (graduating summa cum laude!), in 2007.

"Phil Zerzan is committed to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment for students, staff, and faculty. Whether he is educating students on the rights and responsibilities of being a member of a University community or responding to an urgent campus incident, Phil embodies the values of a caring community. A law enforcement professional, Phil is superior and he brings a high level of expertise and training to our campus leadership team," said Jackie Balzer, PSU Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

Phil knows important parts of his job happen away from his desk. He can often be found at campus events, such as Party in the Park and Move In Day. Sometimes he is on his patrol bike in uniform and sometimes in his signature khakis and hip Adidas kicks. If you see Phil Zerzan, say hello and get to know this campus leader who is helping to make Portland State a safe, healthy, and vibrant metropolitan campus to live, learn, and thrive.

Money Matters: Don't Forget the FAFSA!

Winter break is a wonderful time for students and their families to reconnect and celebrate the completion of a successful Fall term. It's also an important time for students to make sure their financial aid for Winter and Spring terms is prepared and for students to begin planning for the coming year. As you and your student take a well-deserved break from school, there are a few things your student can do to prepare for school in the New Year.

Disbursement for Winter term will begin on Dec 30th for eligible students. Refunds to students will be available beginning January 3rd, depending on their refund preference.

Students should make sure they've completed the following steps:

  • Confirm that your enrollment for Winter term 2012 matches the expected enrollment on your award letter. If it does not, you may submit a Revision Request so that the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships can adjust your award. Reminder: You will only receive your disbursement if your expected enrollment matches your actual enrollment.
  • Review or change your refund preference, login to
  • Check the financial aid tab at If there are any outstanding requirements, please respond to these items as soon as possible.
  • File your FAFSA! Students may apply for 2012-2013 financial aid starting January 1, 2012 at

Winter break is also an excellent chance to get a jump start on applying for scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year. The PSU General Undergraduate scholarship application is now available at Oregon Residents may also begin applying for scholarships offered by the Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC) at

Over the break, students should continue to monitor their email account for any communications from the university. This is our primary method of contact. The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships will be open regular office hours, from 9:00 A.M.-5:30 P.M. Monday-Thursday and 9:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M. Friday. Have a wonderful Winter break and Happy Holidays from the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships!

Housing Info for Winter Term

Rommates with LaptopAs your student is preparing for finals and gearing up for winter break, here's what you need to know about University Housing:

Academic Support--The University Success center is open to assist your student's academic needs, from a quiet study lounge with computer work stations to drop-in tutoring. Your student can take advantage of this resource by visiting the second floor of Ondine. For more information, visit the website.

Room Transfers--The Room Transfer Request process ended on Nov. 16. No more transfer requests will be accepted for the fall term. The winter term transfer process will occur Jan. 16-Feb. 27. Forms are available at the University Housing Office (Broadway Building, 2nd Floor).

Meal Plan Changes--Winter term Meal Plan changes will be accepted through Dec. 9. Your student should e-mail housing prior to the Dec. 9th deadline. Please keep in mind that all FYE students are required to have a meal plan.

2012-2013 Contracts--Now is the time to start discussing where your student will live for 2012-2013! Current on-campus students have top preference when it comes to selecting housing for next year. The Re-Contracting process will begin during winter and spring terms. Students should research their options before filling out their contract. Virtual tours of all the buildings are available online. Students should also plan on attending Housing's Open House event on April 7. This event allows students to tour every housing option on campus to better help them choose where to live next academic year.

University Housing's friendly staff is happy to answer questions for you or your student! Drop them a line at, or visit the website. You can also stay connected and up to date on all of the happenings with University Housing and Residence Life by liking the Housing page on Facebook or follow Housing on Twitter.

Immigration Options After Graduation

Some students choose to extend their education in the U.S. by applying for Optional Practical Training or OPT. OPT provides temporary work authorization for training that is directly related to the student’s major area of study. OPT is usually granted for one-year, although it can be extended in certain circumstances. OPT can sometimes bridge the gap between F1 status and other non-immigrant visas such as the H1B visa. The H1B visa can allow temporary employment in a specialty occupation. The H1B visa application process starts with the employer—students cannot apply on their own. There are strict deadlines, and H1B visa availability is often limited. It is important to plan ahead if seeking an H1B visa.

There are other options available to students, depending on their specific circumstances and abilities and training. PSU Student Legal Services offers free legal consultations on these and other immigration questions. To schedule an appointment, call them at 503.725.4556.

Spotlight On: Student Health and Counseling

With the rain upon us, finals looming, and the vast array of holiday celebrations about to commence, this time of year can be very stressful for your student and the whole student body. The Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) offers a wide variety of services to students to help ease their minds by providing access to quality medical, dental, and counseling services. When stress hits the high note, students can take advantage of speaking with one of our counseling staff. Stress can come from a variety of places: grayer days can make students feel lethargic when they know they need to work on assignments, a fight with a roommate can make a student feel uncomfortable in their own space, and even something fun, like finalizing plans to visit over break can cause stress if students feel like they should be studying instead. Having a sensitive ear to listen to the various stressors, can make all the difference in lifting a student’s mood and give that added level of support that will make the end of term (and the oncoming winter term) easier to handle.Sleepy Studying Student

Winter is also time to start reminding your student to boost up that immune system. Your student can do this easily by stopping by to get a $15 flu shot right on campus (in the University Services building on the corner of Sixth Avenue). Maybe a cold has already set in, or other health needs are starting to surface; the SHAC nurses and doctors are ready and able to help. Students taking 5 or more credits are eligible for SHAC services, and there is never a charge to see a nurse, doctor, or counselor. SHAC’s goal is to support students in having a healthy, happy, and successful academic year at PSU! To learn more about SHAC, visit the website.

And don’t forget about Student Health 101, the monthly health and wellness magazine exclusively for PSU Students. The November issue is available here. SHAC also has Parent Perspective, the health and wellness magazine for parents of PSU students. You can read the November issue of Parent Perspective here.

Campus Updates

Snowy Sky BridgePlanned University Closures--Campus will be closed Nov. 24-25 for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Campus will also be closed Dec. 24-Jan. 2. Regular university functions will resume on Jan. 3.

FlexPasses and Parking Permits--Winter term FlexPasses (an all-zones pass for the Trimet system) will be on sale Dec. 5-Jan. 20. Passes will cost $190 (a 30% discount from an equivalent standard TriMet fare). Students must visit the Transportation and Parking Servcies (TAPS) office in person with their PSU photo ID to purchase the Flexpass. Passes are valid until March 31, 2012.

Winter term Parking Permits will go on sale Nov. 23-Jan. 1. Students can purchase permits online on the 23rd or pick them up in person at the TAPS office starting Nov. 28.

Winter Term Bike Parking Permits will go on sale Dec. 5. Passes can be purchased for $15 at the Bike Hub. For more information, visit the website.

Special Tutoring Hours for Finals--The Learning Center will have special hours Sun., Dec. 4-Wed., Dec. 7, to assist students who want help studying for their final exams. For the special schedule, visit the website.

Campus Rec Hours--Campus Rec will be open select times during winter break. There will be fitness classes from 12:00-1:00 p.m. every day Campus Rec is open during break. For more information, check the Campus Rec website.

Outdoor Program Specials--The Outdoor Program is offering a rental special during winter break. Students can check out any equipment (excluding drysuits) for a full month (Dec. 9-Jan. 9) for the cost of a four-day rental.