From the President: Fall 2019
Author: Stephen Percy
Posted: September 24, 2019

Saying yes to Portland State's future

ONE DAY in early May, I was at work in my garden when the chair of the Portland State Board of Trustees called with an unexpected question: Would I consider serving as the acting president of PSU?

It didn’t take long for me to say yes. I have loved PSU since I joined the faculty in 2014 as the dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs and a professor of political science. I have spent most of my academic career at urban universities, and I can tell you that at PSU, community connections run deep and student success is paramount. It is an honor to serve as interim president.

STUDENT success and the initiatives that support it are at the top of my agenda. More than half of PSU students are the first in their families to attend college. Many are raising children. Most must work part- or full-time to afford their education. And we want all of them to graduate with an education that will spark a meaningful career and enhance a fulfilling life.

You can expect to see us honing effective student recruitment and orientation practices. We will fine-tune our multicultural support systems so students from diverse backgrounds feel included and deeply welcomed by our campus. We are strengthening our advising system. And we will implement an early warning system so that we can intervene as soon as we pick up signals that a student is struggling.

You will also see us pursuing philanthropic support for PSU students who are experiencing tough times. Did you know that 42% of PSU students are food insecure and 39% are housing insecure? We plan to create a Basic Needs Center, a one-stop food pantry and hygiene station where caseworkers will connect students to financial advising, emergency aid and other resources. We’re also establishing a University-wide emergency fund for students with one-time financial needs such as unexpected car repairs. This type of personal support is key to the success of low-income students.

OUR OTHER goals include growing our research portfolio, advancing equity and demonstrating PSU’s impact. We will be busy, but we have the board’s support and a collective sense of urgency. It’s an exciting time on campus.

Follow our progress at, or connect with me on Twitter at @PSUPresident.

Stephen Percy
Interim President
Portland State University