PSU Graduates Largest Class Ever on 60th Anniversary
Author: David Santen, Office of Marketing and Communications (503-725-8789)
Posted: June 17, 2006

Nearly 1,800 of this year’s 4,500 new graduates were on hand at the Rose Garden Arena today to receive degrees at Portland State University’s spring commencement ceremonies while another 14,000 friends and families cheered them on.

The University, founded as Vanport Extension Center in 1946, did not award its first degrees until 1956. This year’s graduating class reflects the 11th-consecutive increase in degrees conferred by Portland State, now in its 60th year.

PSU President Daniel O. Bernstine acknowledged the tenacity of the University’s founders in his remarks to students. “Today, each of you has followed a different path to reach this important day, yet we are forever linked by our common histories and experiences. The lessons I hope that you have learned during your time at Portland State is that, like our early leaders, you can achieve your goals.”

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio delivered the commencement address, after receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from PSU. Two other outstanding Oregonians, Norman Leyden and Fred Rosenbaum, received honorary doctorates of Humane Letters as well (more information on this year’s recipients can be found here:

In his speech, Rep. DeFazio outlined strategies for making higher education more affordable, and asked that today’s graduates commit two minutes out of each day, “to working for a better America, registering people to vote, becoming better informed and active on issues that are important to you, your family, and your community.”

Student speakers included Sarah Cody (B.A., Political Science) and Sarah Spears (B.S., Psychology and Communications).

Portland State will award a total of 4,515 degrees for the 2005–06 academic year, including 3,050 bachelor’s degrees, 1,425 master’s degrees and 40 doctoral degrees. This marks the 11th consecutive year of growth in the University’s graduating class.

The program was broadcast live on Oregon Public Broadcasting television, and hosted by Stephanie Stricklen and Russ Lewis, newscasters from KGW 8 (NBC). A commemorative DVD of the ceremony will be available to graduates, families and friends, containing footage of the entire ceremony as well as each student receiving a diploma. (DVD copies are shipped three weeks after the ceremony; for ordering information, visit

Highlights of the Class of 2006
The 2006 graduating class joins 105,000 Portland State University alumni, over 75,000 of whom live in the Portland metro region. This year’s Graduates represent 141 towns and cities in Oregon, 44 states and the District of Columbia throughout the U.S., and 50 countries from around the world. The youngest graduate is 19, and the oldest is 70. Women represent 59 percent of this year’s grads. The top undergraduate majors are Business, Social Science, Psychology, Science, and English.

About Portland State University
Portland State University, Oregon's only urban university, is the largest and most diverse in the state system. The University's position in Oregon's economic and cultural center allows for deep community engagement and the creation of partnerships with hundreds of organizations throughout the region—partnerships that give PSU students valuable learning opportunities as they solve real-world problems of business and community. Portland State offers more than 100 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees, as well as graduate certificates and continuing education programs. PSU serves more students and confers more master's degrees annually than any other Oregon university.

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Sources: PSU Office of Commencement

For Immediate Release (#06-089)