While Portland State’s new president will not be chosen until sometime in 2008, faculty, students and administrators will consider over winter break which qualities they would like in their new leader. In the holiday spirit, The Vanguard checked in with a number of people on campus, asking what characteristics and experiences might go onto their presidential wish list.
While Portland State’s new president will not be chosen until sometime in 2008, faculty, students and administrators will consider over winter break which qualities they would like in their new leader.
In the holiday spirit, <i>The Vanguard</i> checked in with a number of people on campus, asking what characteristics and experiences might go onto their presidential wish list.
Student body president
“I think we need a president who would emphasize strengthening the university from the inside and then out. Someone who would prioritize student needs, like library resources and new classrooms. Someone who would focus on retaining the great faculty we have, while increasing the diversity of our faculty. Someone who can connect the campus, from students to faculty to administration. The president needs to be an approachable person who understands people’s needs, while providing a presence, voice and a vision that people will get behind and get things done.”
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
“The president helps create an environment where every member of the Portland State community feels that they belong. We have a covenant with one another implying that we are all important, respected and responsible for creating the Portland State that we all believe is possible. And second, someone who understands Portland State and its relationship to this city and the region, someone who will help PSU partner with the community and develop this essential relationship.”
Director of auxiliary services
“Portland State is a very well-connected university, and I would want a president who is able to connect with that community, while leading the university through the growth cycle we are no doubt in right now. I would appreciate a president who is able to think strategically and focus on student success, scholarship and opportunity.”
Director of facilities and planning
“Someone who has a clear and careful understanding of PSU’s facilities needs and physical infrastructure needs. I would like our next president to be able to have a good understanding of what it takes to operate and maintain a campus physically. You can only patch and repair for so long before major repairs are necessary. I’d like to see someone who can make those incremental reinvestments, while meeting the needs of faculty salary and staffing.”
Associate professor of English
“Someone who likes—no—who loves novels. A renaissance person: someone who recognizes the imperative of fund-raising, athletics and hard sciences but harbors a true passion for the arts. A president with personal dynamism, like University of Miami’s Donna Shalala or Smith College’s Jill Ker Conway. Oh heck, since this is my dream ‘wish list,’ then I’d also like to add: someone wise, good and true. Maybe Santa Claus . . . or Bill Clinton,” Abu-Jaber said in an e-mail.
Associate vice president for strategic planning, partnerships and technology
“Someone who is great as an external representative of PSU. Largely, someone who lets the organization run itself internally. One of the things we loved about Dan Bernstine was that he wasn’t very ‘top down’ as a leader, but he was really great in the field. We need someone like that again, preferably someone who is already knowledgeable about the politics of Portland and Oregon.”
Professor of geology
“First, someone who is a communicator, because the president needs to communicate well with faculty, students, alumni and the community. And more generally, we need to get the news out about PSU—
there are lots of great things happening here, and the people in Portland and the regional community just don’t know. We’re biggest in the state for the last 12 years now, and nobody knows that. Another big deal is building community here on campus, both in the departments and in the classroom. A president can have a great impact on that, by setting the tone with a lot of different actions.”
Associate professor of sociology and criminology
“The number one issue is to be able to bring faculty pay up to competitive levels without doing so on the backs of students. Someone who can help pay faculty what they’re worth, so they don’t continue to leave PSU, someone who can advocate for higher ed in the community. K through 12 is easy because the kids are cute.”
Sophomore, political science major and member of the State Board of Higher Education
“I’d like to see someone who can balance the needs of traditional and non-traditional students. It is an incredibly complicated balancing act. It might take extreme measures to satisfy both, but the new president needs to be able to have the clout to be able to do that. Because we don’t get enough money from the state, we need a really, really, really good fund-raiser. And last: diversity. Our president needs to keep a close eye on retention and recruitment of underrepresented students.”
Junior, international studies major
“My wish would be for the president to have a realistic understanding of the needs of PSU students. We are a commuter school of non-traditional students, and the new president needs to understand that we are a university, not a Bally’s gym. I think about the new rec center going into the PCAT space, and it is really an indication of where this school is going. We need new classrooms with windows, a new computer lab, less money spent on athletics and clubs, and more money spent on faculty salaries, so they can give students a quality education.”