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Giving: Spring 2013
Author: Tanya Gross
Posted: May 22, 2013

A place of honor

With Director Ann Marie Fallon’s vibrant new leadership, the University Honors Program is attracting top-tier students—and significant gifts.

The Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust announced earlier this year its commitment to give $1 million to the program, including the third-largest gift to establish a scholarship endowment in PSU history. The Tucker gift supports Honors students through scholarships, research, internships, visiting scholar seminars, and a new urban ecology lab.

The University Honors Program challenges high-achieving, academically motivated undergraduates in all majors to develop critical reading, writing, and research skills through classes and projects unique to Portland State’s urban location. Enrollment has more than doubled in the past two years, from 153 students in 2010 to 343 students this year. The Tucker gift is expected to help boost enrollment to 600 within five years.

Freshman Melecio Estrella is in the University Honors Program and is one of the first students to receive the program’s sustainability scholarship.

Named director of the program in 2011, Fallon, a humanities faculty member, has earned high praise from President Wim Wiewel.

“Leadership matters,” he says. “You have the right person, the right focus, the right energy and you can make things happen. Ann Marie Fallon took it and said, ‘I’m going to build this into a great program.’ And she is doing just that.”

Freshman Melecio Estrella of Davis, California, found what he was looking for in PSU’s Honors Program. He chose it because he liked its smaller, discussion-based classes, easy access to professors, and urban focus. “It fit perfectly,” says the environmental engineering major. “I couldn’t imagine everything coming together so well.”

Estrella was named a Sustainability Scholar, a new award for Honors freshmen with support from the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. The scholarship comes with a yearly $5,000 grant (renewable for four years), a faculty mentor, and research opportunities. Estrella lives on a new Honors Program-only floor in Stephen Epler Hall.

“I would really encourage applicants to sit in on a class, because that was a huge part of my decision,” Estrella says. “All the students seemed engaged, and the professor did a great job of directing the discussion.”

The Tucker gift includes $500,000 for Honors Program scholarships in the form of a challenge grant, calling on PSU to raise an additional $500,000 in scholarship gifts. To participate in the challenge, contact Liz Frawley, 503-725-2681 or


Virtuoso remembered

James DePreist, who transformed the Oregon Symphony during his 23-year tenure as music director, died February 8, 2013. In 2002, the University established the James DePreist Visiting Professorship in Art through gifts from the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and many generous community members. For more information about the DePreist Visiting Professorship, contact Ann Prater, 503-725-3396 or Photo courtesy