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President Wim Wiewel ends academic year with success stories
Author: Suzanne Pardington, University Communications
Posted: June 5, 2012

Portland State University is ending its academic year with more graduates than ever, a better budget picture and the creation of an education urban renewal area that will bring $50 million to campus projects, President Wim Wiewel said June 5 at a campus forum. 

“This academic year began with some big questions and uncertainty,” Wiewel said. “As we now know, most of these things came to successful resolution.”

PSU’s accomplishments this year include advancing community partnerships; increasing diversity on campus; and raising $15 million in private gifts, about 7 percent more than at this time last year, Wiewel told faculty, staff and students in the Smith Memorial Student Union ballroom. 

Monica Rimai, vice president for finance and administration, unveiled new three-year budget projections that eliminate a previous $23 million shortfall. To balance the budget, the University made strategic cuts of 2 percent and plans to raise tuition in the fall by about 3.8 percent for undergraduate residents, a modest increase compared to last year’s 9 percent bump and the lowest increase among Oregon's large universities. PSU enrollment also is predicted to grow by about 2 percent. 

No budget reductions are planned for 2014 or 2015, Rimai said.

“I’m very happy to report that we are in a much better place, largely because of a collective effort across the campus,” she said. “I think we all own a piece of some very good news at the end of the day.”

In a question-and-answer session, a faculty member asked if part of the tuition increase is reserved for financial aid. Wiewel replied that the University has made a commitment to increasing aid to students next year to $17 million, about $1 million more than this year. 

When a staff member asked about layoffs, Wiewel said the new budget plan avoids further staff reductions. 

“Layoffs are a last-resort kind of measure,” he said. “I wish I could say we will never do it again, but there are too many unknowns.”

Wiewel thanked Roy Koch, who is retiring this month following 30 years at PSU, the last seven as provost and vice president for academic affairs. 

“He’s been a true academic leader,” Wiewel said. “He’s been a big part of making sure our visibility keeps going up nationally.” 

Koch joined PSU’s civil engineering faculty in 1982 and has served as director of the Systems Science Ph.D program, vice provost of research and dean of graduate studies, and director of the Environmental Sciences and Resources Program. He was named provost in 2005.

Wiewel also introduced Sona Andrews, who will replace Koch as provost on July 1. Andrews brings nearly two decades of higher education experience in senior academic administrative positions, most recently as vice chancellor for academic strategies for the Oregon University System.