Bernstine cashes in — so what about the rest of us?

    In July, President Daniel Bernstine’s salary was increased by $169,612, removing him from the bottom rung of Oregon university presidents and setting his pay at $340,008, a salary equal to Oregon State University President Ed Ray.

    President Bernstine has accomplished much in his position – he has brought in large numbers of students and helped the Portland State campus grow into the biggest university in Oregon. Bernstine deserves a pay raise, and the university deserves the respect that comes with the raise.

    Portland State has been looking for that respect for the last 20 years.

    In the 1980s, the university bannered "Let Knowledge Serve the City" across the Broadway sky bridge as a way to reconnect PSU with Portland. In 2006, President Bernstine chartered his Task Force for Integrated Marketing as contemporary approach to redefine the image of PSU, which resulted in the university’s new logo.

    Still, imbalance persists on the Portland State campus and in the state. As it was in the 1980s, PSU continues to remain the black sheep of the higher education family.

    The new logo, costing the university $120,000 for the design alone, is like placing a bow atop a steaming cow pie – it’s a pretty distraction from the true state of the university.

    But the logo isn’t pretty and it isn’t distracting anyone.

    Now that President Bernstine has received equal pay, Portland State deserves equal respect. Respect is not based solely on funding – respect is acknowledging that Portland State is as valuable as the other Oregon universities.

    With the university in its current state, this respect has proved difficult to gain from the community outside of the Oregon University System.

    Even though the PSU Foundation completed its largest fundraising campaign ever, totaling $114 million raised by the end, this was still minute in comparison to similar campaigns at other universities. The University of Oregon’s Campaign Oregonhas already raised $453 million of its $600 million goal.

    Alumni do not want to donate money if they feel they have received a second-class education, and many students see a PSU degree as second-rate in the scheme of things.

    PSU has been losing its best faculty and staff because of an inability to pay them, and with that, PSU has been losing any ability to secure a quality education for its students.

    Last fall, PSU nearly saw a faculty strike over the low pay that PSU faculty members receive. After months of negotiations, the PSU faculty did receive a six percent pay raise.

    Even so, PSU faculty members are among the lowest-paid faculty among their peers in the nation, ranking in the 86th percentile.

    Last spring, the PSU administration was forced to cut $3 million from university programs in order to make the budget. The Millar Library received one of the most sizable budget reductions, totaling almost $400,000 in reductions of staff positions and library materials.

    Administrators and staff members do not want to work at a university that cannot support itself.

    When President Bernstine seemed to be suffering from a lack of pay, the solution was quick. In a matter of months, his salary doubled and he rose to a pay level equal with his peers. It’s a shame no one can find such a quick and easy solution for the rest of the university.

    Portland State and Portland State students deserve the same respect that the university president receives.

    Without word of complaint or request, President Bernstine received a $50,704 salary boost in July from the Oregon University System and a $118,908 salary supplement from the PSU Foundation.

    Portland State faculty members have been begging since last fall for a reasonable raise. PSU students have been begging for 20 years for an education equal to those universities further south.

    The PSU administration and the Oregon University System both recognize the lack of respect PSU receives and say they are working on a solution. The only solution they’ve given so far? A 6 percent salary increase for faculty members last winter.

    Some PSU professors with a Ph.D. are still paid less than $50,000 a year.

    A request for additional state funding is one as old as higher education itself. President Bernstine deserves and was given the respect of additional state funding. PSU faculty and students deserve that same respect.

    A request for additional private funding – in this case from the PSU Foundation – is a new one to PSU. President Bernstine deserves and was given the respect of supplemental funding from the PSU Foundation. PSU faculty and students deserve that same respect.

    President Bernstine was swiftly rewarded with the respect he deserved. Now it’s time for Portland State’s faculty to have those same quick solutions. It’s time for students to feel they attend a university that is worth more than a pretty bow on a pile of waste.