From the President: Winter 2013
Author: President Wim Wiewel
Posted: January 31, 2013

Campus life thrives in the heart of the city

IF YOU HAVEN'T been on campus in a while, I encourage you to visit in 2013 to see firsthand the progress we've made in creating a lively urban education environment. Perhaps what has changed the most in recent years is the student experience.

Portland State continues to be the most diverse university in Oregon. The number of Latino students, for example, has doubled since 2008 to more than 2,230 students this fall. That reflects the efforts of Exito (success), our recruitment and support initiative that includes La Casa Latina, the campus cultural center. The number of international students also has grown to more than 2,000 from Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Korea, India, and other nations. They make vital cultural contributions and add a cosmopolitan atmosphere to our campus.

We've been able to attract more international and out-of-state students largely because of the expansion of residential life. In the fall, we opened University Pointe, the privately built and operated complex that increased our residential housing from 2,000 to 3,000 students. They have the opportunity to experience the 24/7 energy and attractions of living downtown.

Students who live off campus also have seen dramatic improvements that enable them to get here without a car. PSU is a hub for TriMet buses, the north-south MAX train, and the Portland Streetcar. Partnering with the city, we have designated a popular bike boulevard along southwest Broadway, and our campus now offers more parking for bikes than cars.

Academically, we have added advisers to help students determine their majors and chart their coursework toward a degree, expanded orientation for freshmen and transfers, boosted retention rates, and maintained class sizes at an average of 24 students. For high-achieving students, we have strengthened our Honors Program, which grew by a whopping 59 percent in the past year.

CAMPUS LIFE is anchored by more than 200 student groups, from traditional sororities and performance groups to organizations such as the Modern Buddhist Student Association, Viking Vets, Gamers Republic, and the Tango Club. Resources include the Multicultural Center, Native American Student and Community Center, Queer Resource Center, Women's Resource Center, and a new Resource Center for Students with Children. Viking sports also play an integral role at PSU for athletes, fans, and alumni.

Student support, however, takes more than academic and social programs. Our busy Center for Student Health and Counseling provides medical and psychological services, and we established our CARE intervention team four years ago to help students in distress. Because of our urban setting, ensuring a safe campus is our top priority, and we're moving forward on a plan to bolster our Campus Public Safety operation.

All this is just a snapshot of Portland State's rich campus life. Look for much more to come as we grow and create more opportunities for all of our students.

Wim Wiewel