Stepping down

Colleagues and friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I’m announcing that this coming academic year will be my last one as PSU president. By next summer, I will be 67 years old and will have served nine years, and I want to have time to pursue some other interests.

It’s been a tremendous honor and pleasure to work with so many of you to make PSU one of the nation’s leading urban universities, one that truly lives up to our motto of “Let Knowledge Serve the City.” I can think of no other place that takes its mission of providing opportunity and access to excellence, through deep engagement with its region, as seriously as we do.

Many challenges as well as opportunities for future growth and excellence remain, but I am grateful for all that we have been able to accomplish together.

The work of faculty and staff is at the core of what makes a university great, and I am continually impressed by their dedication to our students. And it has been an enormous pleasure to watch our students succeed in the classroom and in the community.

Critical also has been the leadership of the executive committee; the deans; the Board of Trustees and the boards of the PSU Foundation and the Alumni Association. And we could not have done it without the support of our many donors, friends and colleagues.

I am confident that with all this great work, PSU will continue to do well in the future. Some of the highlights of the past eight years include:

• Enrollment growth to over 29,000 students.
• Doubling the number of Latino students, and raising retention and graduation rate of Latino students equal to or exceeding that of non‐Latino white students.
• Clear recognition of PSU as one of the “big three” universities in Oregon and an anchor institution for metro Portland.
• Establishing PSU’s own Board of Trustees and independence from the Oregon University System.
• Completing or starting $572 million in major construction projects, involving ten buildings with 1.85 million square feet of space
• Annual growth in externally funded research from $40 million to more than $65 million.
• Annual growth in philanthropy from $12 million to more than $30 million.
• Received PSU’s largest gift, $25 million from the Miller Foundation, making PSU a national leader in sustainability.
• Creating dozens of online courses and student‐focused technology applications through reTHINK PSU.
• Establishing the OHSU‐PSU School of Public Health.
• Developing an urban renewal agreement with the city of Portland that generates more than $25 million for PSU.
• Establishing a College Affordability and Success Coalition that will generate $25 million per year for PSU.
• Completing the most participatory strategic plan ever, reaffirming our commitment to “Let Knowledge Serve the City.”
• Appointing PSU’s first Vice President for Global Diversity and Inclusion, and establishing dedicated spaces for Latino, African‐American/Black, and Asian/Pacific Islander students.
• Developing strong partnership agreements with OHSU, PGE, the City of Portland, and others.
• Helping to establish All Hands Raised, a cradle‐to‐career collaborative for Multnomah County.
• Recognition by U.S. News & World Report of PSU as one of the nation’s 20 most innovative universities, as well as other top rankings for specific academic programs and sustainability.

These, and many other accomplishments, are those of the entire institution. Certainly more will be added in the future.

During my final year, I will focus on implementation of our strategic plan and on increasing revenue through the College Affordability and Success Coalition and from the Legislature and philanthropy. I will work with the Board of Trustees to ensure a smooth transition and after a sabbatical, I will return part‐time as a professor.

Again, I want to thank everyone for their hard work and support during these years. Last but not least I want to acknowledge my wife Alice, whose contributions as “first lady” have been greater than anyone will ever know and without whom I would not have lasted nine years.

Go Viks!

Author: President Stephen Percy

Hi, and thank you for visiting! I have led Portland State University since May 2019. Before that, I served as dean of PSU's College of Urban & Public Affairs.

5 thoughts

  1. I’ve always enjoyed working with you, Wim. On an institutional level, your tenure covered my undergraduate experience, graduate degree, and most of my nearly 10 years on campus as a professional staff member. Retention success! I went from having a GED, and a loosely held together plan for life, to finishing two degrees, a minor, a certificate and advancing in a career that makes me truly proud of what we do. I know we change lives. I arrived skeptical about the bureaucracy, having never worked anywhere with more than 15 employees — and now I am, and will always be, a very proud Viking. (Even if the bureaucracy can be wearing at times, still!)

    On a more personal level, you’ve been accessible. You’ve looked me in the eye and asked me what I thought, and you really listened. I can’t tell you how meaningful that has been.

    Thank you for all that you’ve done for PSU. I look forward to the next year of work with you and the transition that follows as you step in to this new adventure.


  2. I started PSU in 2007, shortly before you came to PSU, I graduated in 2013 with multiple business degrees, Currently I work for Oracle here in Oregon. I would like to thank you for all you have done for PSU. You get far to much criticism and to few praise for what you have done with this university. We are better for having had you here, and you will be missed. While I attended I always admired and appreciated your openness and willingness to talk to anyone who approached you. I wish you the best in your retirement and hope you remain active in the PSU community.


  3. Thank you for your valuable service, Wim. I know that we will all miss you. I have been associated with PSU for forty years now, as an undergraduate student (English), graduate student (MSW), Faculty, and now Doctoral student (Ed. D.). I have never been prouder of Portland State, and much of my pride is due to efforts that you have led in the last nine years.



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