CLAS gets interim dean

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Dean Marvin Kaiser recently stepped down after 17 years of work.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Dean Marvin Kaiser recently stepped down after 17 years of work. In his absence, Dick Knight, who has worked as the interim dean for the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, is taking the same interim status for CLAS.

Knight—a man who has been a chameleon of sorts for Portland State—is temporarily replacing Kaiser. Aside from working as the Maseeh College interim dean, Knight has also served as the vice president of University Relations.

Kaiser, who has seen the evolution of the department, spoke fondly of his time there.

“One thing would be the growth of a number of programs…the undergrad and Ph.D. programs that we were able to bring together,” Kaiser said. “Of course, that means I hope we’re serving the students and the community in a richer way through those programs; also…it’s a reflection of the quality of the faculty and students.”

Larry Wallack, dean for the College of Urban and Public Affairs, also credits Kaiser for expanding CLAS as well as for his leadership while at the helm.

“[He] has created a diverse array of new programs, new degrees and a greatly expanded research portfolio,” Wallack said.

In the interim, Wallack, who is on the search committee, sees Knight as an integral part of helping in the transition to a full-time dean. What most impressed him was Knight’s work during his interim status with the Maseeh College.

“I was greatly impressed with the quality of service when he was the interim director of the development office,” Wallack said. “Dick is a wonderful choice to serve as the interim dean; he will make a very positive contribution in the short time he will be serving.”

Knight does not have a background in education administration. Rather, he created a name for himself in the field of technology as an executive officer of Tektronix, Inc. Since his retirement in his field, he has been spending time volunteering with various nonprofits and educational advisory boards.

In addition, he has worked with Intel’s international science fair, which brought 15,000 students from 40 different countries to Portland. That venture totaled $4 million worth of scholarships.

Knight has become progressively more involved with PSU, but admits he is a business guy.

As the interim dean for CLAS he will oversee staff, finance teams and work with the provost’s office, all to ensure a smooth transition from Kaiser’s tenure until they can find a permanent dean for the college in August or September.

Specifically, Knight will oversee the budgeting process and help the development foundation, which seeks out institutional and individual donations.

For a man which such a technical background, he cites family as his central prespective on education. Having both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in physics, Knight’s eyes on education are from a parent’s perspective, with both his children currently fulfilling their educational aspirations.

“College education is a transformational part of your life,” Knight said. “The things you learn in college enrich your life as a person.”

Knight credits PSU students in this transformative process.

“Each student has their own story,” he said. “You walk around the campus and see excitement, optimism and hope.”

While Knight has many outside ventures, he is focused on his role as the interim dean.

“I will primarily be making sure that these transitions are smooth,” he said. “We will be making decisions in a financially responsible way.”

As if all his nonprofit work  and jobs with PSU weren’t enough, Knight will also be honored on May 19 by Tech America with a lifetime achievement award. The award, the first of its kind, is set to honor successful tech enterprises engaging in the community. The most exciting part for Knight about the award is the five-minute video that will be played. He will use that time to spotlight the work of his nonprofits, as well as PSU. ?