Supporters make the case for PSU, higher ed at the Capitol
Author: Harry Esteve
Posted: March 6, 2015

About 200 students, faculty, alumni and other Portland State University supporters filled the foyers, halls and offices of the Oregon State Capitol on Thursday, pressing the case to restore funding to higher education after years of cuts.

PSU President Wim Wiewel spent time with Gov. Kate Brown, the Portland State Chamber Choir delivered a stirring performance on the House floor that provoked a rare standing ovation and volunteers handed out hundreds of PSU-green doughnuts.

Students, staff and other volunteers, wearing “Fearless PSU Advocate” T-shirts, visited more dozens of lawmakers to request their support for a $755 million funding package for Oregon’s public universities. The PSU cheer squad, athletes and Victor Viking also were on hand.

“It tells the Legislature that people care – that we care” about support for higher education, Wiewel said.

The day began with a pep talk from Rep. Margaret Doherty, a Democrat from Tigard and a PSU graduate. She told the group that PSU has a lot to offer and legislators need to hear it.

“We all know the important role PSU plays in the economy,” she said. “We are making our mark and more people are seeing it.”

The $755 million sought by Oregon’s seven public universities “is an investment you’ll get back 10 times,” Doherty said.

Later in the day, Wiewel met with Brown for a quick discussion of higher education and PSU priorities. He was joined by ASPSU President Eric Noll and PSU supporters David and Christine Vernier. Christine also serves on the PSU Board of Trustees.

During a keynote luncheon speech, Christine Vernier noted that she was able to avoid student debt by working her way through college. That is no longer possible, given the high cost of tuition, she said, and students leave PSU with an average $26,000 debt.

“That’s appalling” Vernier said. “Philanthropy is not the answer. We really need state support.”