Portland State University will respond to ongoing financial and academic challenges in the coming year by balancing its budget, focusing on technology and forming a new governing board, President Wim Wiewel said at this week’s convocation.
The annual event for faculty and staff celebrates the beginning of the academic year.
Wiewel stressed PSU’s importance as an anchor economic and educational institution in the region. Increasing Oregon’s rate of college attainment by just 1 percent would generate $1.7 billion more in personal income and $154 million more in taxes, he said.
But people still ask if higher education is really worth it, Wiewel said.
“The data continue to show it continues to be worth it -- not just in good economic times but in the challenging economic times we’ve had lately,” he said.
PSU and other universities are facing growing concern about rising tuition and student debt, a move toward tying state and federal funding to performance and the rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
The University will not just survive but thrive by taking advantage of its niche: serving place-bound students with a broad variety of hands-on, practical and hybrid online and in-person courses, Wiewel said.
To that end, PSU will focus on three areas in the coming academic year:
- The ReThink PSU project will continue in full force to pursue better use of technology in enrollment, business processes and teaching and learning.
- A new 15-member governing board will be confirmed and operational by July 1.
- University leaders will draft a plan to close a $15 million budget gap, including reductions in costs and increases in revenues, by Dec. 31 for the budget year starting July 1.
Also at convocation, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sona Andrews recognized the recipients of this year’s excellence awards for their outstanding contributions to the University. The recipients are:
- Leslie Hammer, professor of psychology, recipient of the Branford P. Millar Award for Faculty Excellence
- Lois Delcambre, professor of computer science, recipient of the George C. Hoffman Award for Faculty Excellence
- Kimberly Pendell, social sciences librarian, recipient of the Kenneth W. and Elsie W. Butler Award for Library Faculty Service
- Robert Mercer, assistant dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recipient of the Mary H. Cumpston Award for Service to Students