The Oregon State Board of Higher Education unanimously selected Dr. Wim Wiewel as the new president of Portland State University Friday, kicking off a day of celebration at the university. After almost a year of searching and interviewing, Wiewel was welcomed to Portland State with a standing ovation from community members, faculty and students early Friday morning. Wiewel was the final candidate remaining for the position after the two other finalists dropped from the race. “PSU is a gem in education and research,” Wiewel said. “I’m looking forward to giving you all the best of my leadership abilities.”
A new leader for PSU
The Oregon State Board of Higher Education unanimously selected Dr. Wim Wiewel as the new president of Portland State University Friday, kicking off a day of celebration at the university.
After almost a year of searching and interviewing, Wiewel was welcomed to Portland State with a standing ovation from community members, faculty and students early Friday morning. Wiewel was the final candidate remaining for the position after the two other finalists dropped from the race.
“PSU is a gem in education and research,” Wiewel said. “I’m looking forward to giving you all the best of my leadership abilities.”
Wiewel, the current provost and senior vice president of the University of Baltimore, was previously the dean of two colleges at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Throughout his career in academia, Wiewel has focused largely on urban planning and development.
When Wiewel becomes president, he will receive a yearly salary of $350,400-with $110,000 coming from the PSU foundation. Wiewel’s start date is set for next fall.
Finding the right president
Jim Francesconi, search committee chair and former Portland city commissioner, said there were three primary criteria the committee was looking for in candidates for the next president of Portland State.
The first criterion was to find a president that was worthy of the University. Secondly, the committee sought a president with a vision and the ability to lead Portland State to the next level using integrity and wisdom.
The final criterion the committee desired in Portland State’s next president was a person who was capable of inspiring the campus community while having the wherewithal to make tough decisions.
“The board did a stellar job in selecting such a qualified president,” Francesconi said. “Wiewel will be an advocate for PSU, for higher education and for us all.”
Wiewel will replace current interim president Michael Reardon, who has occupied the position since last summer, following the resignation of former president Daniel Bernstine.
Two of three dropped from running
On March 14, the three top finalists vying for president were announced, with each visiting campus to speak with students and faculty throughout the month of April.
About a month after he was announced as a finalist, Jon Whitmore, president of Texas Tech University, was the first to drop out of the race. Whitmore later explained that he and PSU would not be able to work together cohesively because his values were not aligned with those of the university.
Only nine days later, Kathie Olsen, the deputy director and chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation, told the chancellor of the Oregon University System, George Pernsteiner, in a letter that the timing was not right for her to leave her post at the NSF.
Despite the other two candidates withdrawing, many board members and community members felt Wiewel was the best-qualified candidate for the job.
At the press conference following the announcement of Wiewel as the next president, Pernsteiner asked, “Did we get it right?” in regards to the choice. Amid applause from those in attendance, Pernsteiner said, “Yeah, I think we did.”
Experience in administration
Wiewel came to the University of Baltimore in 2004, and immediately began serving as provost and senior vice president. While at the University of Baltimore, Wiewel took the reigns in expanding the growth of the institution, developing a plethora of degree programs that includes an undergraduate in real estate.
For Wiewel, the next three months will be filled with packing, tying up any loose ends in Baltimore, and getting acclimated to life on the West Coast, along with his children and wife Alice.
As president, Wiewel said he wants to create a symbiotic relationship with all members of the Portland State community. He said he is excited about moving to Portland and encourages those directly and indirectly involved with the University to voice their needs, wants and desires.
“The first 90 days are going to be busy, very busy,” Wiewel said.
During those first 90 days, Wiewel said he would like to gather institutional leaders from many areas and bring them together for a one-day conference in the Park Blocks to discuss how Portland State University can move forward effectively and efficiently into the future.
Party for the president
At a Friday afternoon party held in Wiewel’s honor in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom, hundreds from the University and the Portland community–including students, local politicians and faculty–ate catered snacks, drank wine and lined up to wish Wiewel well in his new position.
After exuberant speeches given by Francesconi and Pernsteiner about how Wiewel will improve PSU and the state in general, student government president Rudy Soto, who also served on the presidential search committee, presented Wiewel with a PSU T-shirt and baseball hat.
Wiewel joked that a rule for applying for a job is to never wear funny hats. But, Wiewel said, that rule changes once you actually get the job, as he placed the PSU cap on his head, the audience cheered.