Portland Business Journal: Viewpoint — An open letter to PSU from a true believer
Author: Juan Barraza
Posted: June 4, 2019

To read the original story, visit Portland Business Journal.

We see you.

You have provided higher education opportunities to the greater Portland area since 1946. From your inception, you have been all about access and moving this city forward.

At first you provided education to returning World War II veterans. Then, you endured the growing pains of becoming a public university. You understood that Portland needed an urban university that would be able to serve a very diverse population — students fresh out of high school, those working full time and chipping away at their education in the off hours, adults returning to finally get that college degree. You made them all feel welcome. You created a community where they could all achieve their goals.

You have grown to be a great university providing unique living and learning environment to more than 28,000 students. You have innovative education models and a vast array of programs tailored to equip students with the skills they need to succeed. You have been consistently ranked among the most innovative universities in the country, beating out much bigger names. And you’ve done that by being both innovative AND collaborative.

Your students and faculty are recognized for their resilience, creativity and innovative spirit. They are spearheading groundbreaking research and making a difference in the organizations they work for. You are deeply embedded in your community, and the city and suburbs of Portland are your classroom.

And now, just like in the beginning, we see you confronted with the challenge of setting course for a new direction that will allow you to prepare our next generation of students for the future. We know that you have experienced new growing pains, but you’re in a position to pivot and keep moving forward.

The road ahead is anything but smooth. Rising costs have prompted an increase in tuition, a new president is gone before any vision for the next phase could get off the ground.

The good work and innovative programs you’ve developed haven’t gone anywhere, but suddenly there’s less acknowledgment of what you’ve achieved.

But don’t worry, PSU. We see you. We see the jobs engine that you are with some 65 percent of your alumni living and working in our community. PSU is Portland and Portland is PSU. We’ve got your back and we know what you need.

The next PSU President will have experience managing transitions within organizations, they will value your success and empower faculty and staff to continue doing their amazing work. They will help attract senior faculty, see beyond numbers and connect with students. They will bring a fresh perspective for PSU’s next chapter. They will be well respected, not just within PSU but throughout Portland and Oregon. They will look like the PSU community — by the way, more than 50 percent of the student body are women — and they will embody both collaboration AND competitiveness.

PSU, you deserve a captain that can steer the university to safe harbor, and we’re going to make sure you get it. We are rooting for you!