Confirmation of PSU’s institutional board candidates delayed by Senate

Following a dispute in the Oregon Senate, the process for finalizing Portland State’s first institutional governing board is currently on hold.

PSU Associate Vice President of University Communications Chris Broderick said the dispute arose when Senate Republicans in Salem, Oregon took issue with some of Gov. Kitzhaber’s suggested staff and faculty appointments.

“The confirmations were delayed because some senators had questions about whether student, faculty and staff representatives on the governing boards of PSU, [University of Oregon and Oregon State] should be voting members or non-voting members,” Broderick said in an email.

“In the bill passed by the legislature, that determination was to be made by the governor.

Gov. Kitzhaber decided that those representatives should be voting members of the boards at all three universities.”

Following prolonged debate from Senate Republicans over the full extent of power granted to Gov. Kitzhaber by Senate Bill 270, however, the Senate approval of institutional board candidates was ultimately delayed.

Alongside PSU, UO and OSU were granted the ability to create independent institutional boards with the passage of SB 270 in August.

As previously reported in the Vanguard, these boards will begin operation on July 1 of next year and will allow many decisions to be made at the university level, including the hiring of the president, salary rates for staff and faculty and land purchases for future development.

The boards will also operate as separate legal entities and set tuition levels, with additional oversight from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

As outlined in the bill, each institutional board will consist of up to 15 members, nominated by an executive committee, including one student representative, one classified PSU employee and PSU’s president as a nonvoting member. Faculty, staff and student members will serve two-year terms, while other members will serve four-year terms.

After the bill’s passage, PSU established an executive committee to undertake the nomination process. As part of this search, the Associated Students of Portland State University initiated an interview process for PSU’s student board member, eventually recommending PamelaCampos-Palma for the position.

A former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, Campos-Palma is the director of PSU’s Latina empowerment organization, Las Mujeres de la Raza, and works in PSU’s Veteran’s Resource Center.

Other notable nominees include former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Paul J. De Muniz, former Portland City Commissioner James Francesconi, and Port of Portland’s Government Affairs Director Tom Imeson.

According to The Oregonian, not enough Democrats were present for a full voting majority during the Senate’s most recent voting session, meaning the confirmation of the board nominees has been postponed until the Senate reconvenes on the matter in November.

“Until then, the Oregon University System is still running all seven universities,” said ASPSU’s Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Noll.

Noll expressed there is little to be done about the boards until the Senate makes a decision. “Our part at this stage is done,” he said. “We’re just looking forward to July 2014, when we can adjust ourselves to work with the board.”