September 28, 2020 - Message

Welcome to our 75th anniversary of teaching, learning, service and discovery!

Student wearing mask


September 28, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year, the year we celebrate Portland State’s 75th anniversary! Portland State is rising to the challenge of COVID-19 by developing new ways to learn, live and connect — on and off-campus. To protect your health and well-being this fall, nearly all our classes will be remote, but our campus will be open — with new safety measures — to provide student support.

The video at the top of this email is full of useful information about what to expect during fall term 2020 at PSU. To learn more about our plans, visit our A New Way Forward web page.

In gratitude
Employees and students: I cannot thank you enough for the hard work, adaptability, patience and compassion you have shown over the past six months. You created remote learning from scratch this spring, and over the summer, PSU faculty trained with our Office of Academic Innovation to refine their remote teaching practices and help students thrive in a virtual environment. Faculty and staff found ways to give students personal attention and support, even it could not be in person, and created a sense of community in a virtual environment. Students can access one-on-one online support with virtual tutoring, academic coaching, writing help, and advising. Staff members have also taken a number of steps to make campus spaces safer and to support students’ physical and mental health. Thank you for all of your efforts.

Responding to the wildfire crisis
As this term unfolds, we are experiencing a new, unexpected challenge, and our hearts go out to those across the state whose homes and communities have been damaged by the wildfires. Many at PSU — students, staff, and faculty — have had their lives touched by this disaster, whether they are fleeing homes that lay directly in the path of the flames, battling the blazes, or providing relief and support for evacuees.  

In recognition of the circumstances of the wildfire and the continuing challenges posed by the pandemic, PSU is extending for all students the deadline to drop classes with a 100 percent refund. The new deadline will be Sunday, Oct. 11. You can review all important deadlines on the academic calendar. 

Frequent communication
We are stepping up our efforts to stay in communication with our community in the virtual environment, and last week, we put together a virtual Town Hall to answer faculty and staff questions about fall term. If you were unable to attend the Town Hall, I invite you to watch a recording of it here, where we will also be posting answers to questions that we were unable to get to the day of the event. 

Advancing racial equity at PSU
Many of you will soon have a chance to meet Ame Lambert, our new vice president of Global Diversity & Inclusion. Dr. Lambert will be leading our university’s extensive effort to confront and root out racism in all its forms on this campus. This effort is at the top of my agenda. I consider it a moral imperative. And I also see it as work that goes hand in hand with our Students First initiatives. As one of our first steps, we are convening an Equity Summit on Oct. 30, and I encourage faculty, staff and students to register. Look for a formal invitation later this week. We are excited to spend the day visioning and planning for our racially just and equitable future. 

Reimagining Campus Public Safety
In August, Chief Willie Halliburton and the members of our Campus Public Safety Office made the decision to patrol campus without carrying firearms. They will continue to be sworn officers, with investigative and arrest capabilities. We are grateful for the groundbreaking commitment from our campus public safety partners, as it allows us to look beyond the question of guns and to reimagine how best to address the complete continuum of safety on our campus. We also wish to recognize and appreciate these members of our campus family for their dedicated service and commitment to the well-being of PSU.

Also in August, we created the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee. The committee’s work is guided by our commitment to providing a campus environment that is free of racism, celebrates the diversity of our community, and honors our dedication to human dignity. The committee is already meeting to assess how to keep our campus safe without relying on officers carrying firearms. The committee is also looking for innovative solutions to an array of safety and security needs, including providing basic security and assisting those who are in crisis. An invitation to self-nominate to participate in the committee’s work will be sent in the coming weeks.

A Year to Celebrate 
PSU has been resilient since our very beginning 75 years ago as an institution that was established to serve GIs returning from World War II. We were resilient in surviving and thriving in the aftermath of a flood that destroyed our first campus. And, we have been nothing if not resilient over the last six months in our continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic and through our efforts to forge a pathway to eliminate racism and advance social justice on our campus. We are in the beginning stages of planning many 75th-anniversary celebrations. Please look for more information about this soon. 

I wish you all a safe, healthy, productive year. Thank you for being a part of PSU!

Stephen Percy