PSU welcomes new leaders 

President Rahmat Shoureshi is hosting a reception for faculty and staff to welcome these new leaders on Tuesday, September 25, 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Simon Benson House, 1803 SW Park Ave.

Three proven administrators have joined Portland State University’s leadership team, and each one has set an ambitious agenda that relies on forging strong partnerships with faculty and the community. 

Dr. Susan Jeffords, provost and vice president for academic affairs

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Jeffords

Jeffords, who joined PSU Aug. 15, will spend her first year looking at whether the experiences of PSU students match their expectations and those of the communities the university serves.

“We need support and engagement from communities across Oregon, whether they be businesses, community colleges, governments, nonprofits or individuals,” Jeffords says. “Student outcomes improve with more participants supporting them.”

Jeffords is committed to increasing opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented communities to participate actively in higher education, including expanding opportunities for international engagement.

A higher education leader with decades of accomplishments, Jeffords will lead the university’s academic mission and oversee its seven colleges and schools, the University Library, University Honors College, and Department of University Studies.

Jeffords was previously the chief academic officer for the University of Washington Bothell. She has written and taught broadly in the area of American popular culture, with a particular emphasis on Hollywood film, the Vietnam War and feminism. 

Dr. Mark McLellan, vice president for research and graduate studies

Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Mark McLellan

McLellan, who joined PSU Aug. 6, says he is moving quickly to expand PSU’s research capacity, a keen interest of President Rahmat Shoureshi. That work will begin this fall with faculty-wide training on grantsmanship, or the practice of obtaining peer-reviewed research grants. Graduate students will be included in the training sessions.

Faculty members are expected to be experts in their disciplines, but sometimes lack the ability to make a case for their research to grant committees, McLellan says. Developing those skills is vital for advancing the research of individual faculty members and the cross-collaborative centers of excellence that will be developed beginning this year.

“Don’t all faculty engaged in creative work deserve the resources to make those works come alive?” McLellan asks. “Grantsmanship can fund instruction and service work, too.”

A 30-year veteran of university research leadership, McLellan was previously the vice president for research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Utah State University, Utah’s land-grant and space-grant research institution.
McLellan, who will join PSU as a full tenured professor of biology, earned his Ph.D. in food science from Michigan State University.

Dr. Richard L. Corsi, dean of the Fariborz Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science

Dean Richard Corsi

Corsi, who joined PSU Sept. 1, says under his leadership the Maseeh College will strive for opportunities to revolutionize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

“I realize that I have a lot to learn and intend to do a great deal of listening and productive brainstorming during my first year as dean,” Corsi says. “I will do so by immersing myself in our community, getting to know faculty, staff, students, and those who employ our students.”

Corsi says the region’s growing high tech and manufacturing will continue to benefit from PSU students’ diversity and qualifications, and he expects the college will expand cutting-edge research to prepare for “extraordinary events” such as earthquakes, wildfires and cyberspace attacks. 

Previously chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, Corsi served on the UT Austin faculty for nearly 25 years.

Corsi’s research focuses on the physics and chemistry of indoor air pollution, particularly as it relates to pollutant interactions with indoor materials.

Story by Paige Parker

Photos by Peter Simon