Without a doubt the biggest buzzword around campus has been “sustainability.” But with a new university president, the opening of a newly renovated Shattuck Hall and an array of construction projects sprouting up around campus the notion of change has definitely given sustainability a run for its money.
Without a doubt the biggest buzzword around campus has been “sustainability.”
But with a new university president, the opening of a newly renovated Shattuck Hall and an array of construction projects sprouting up around campus the notion of change has definitely given sustainability a run for its money.
Portland State is changing rapidly before our eyes. In addition to the handful of construction projects, a new rec center and MAX line should be in place by the end of the coming year.
In the spirit of the university’s transformation, it is important that, in our final editorial before 2009, we address a few initiatives to improve the overall experience at Portland State.
One thing that has always been said is that PSU lacks a community feel. Much of this stems from the fact that it is a commuter university of nearly 27,000 students, where only 12 percent of the undergraduates live on campus.
At any university across the country, the key to cultivating a vibrant community is ensuring that the students feel at home on campus. Currently, this does not happen for the majority of Portland State students.
Some live in apartments near campus or a short bus ride away in one of Portland’s neighboring suburbs, but that is not the same. When students live on campus there is a common bond.
For this to become a reality at Portland State, the university needs to invest in more on-campus housing.
More on-campus housing makes Portland State an attractive option for out-of-state and international students, whom are less likely to have the connections or knowledge to find a place off campus.
The reality of the current situation is that on-campus housing is usually entirely full, has an extensive waiting list and is not affordable, leaving that influx of more traditional students who wish to live on campus without any viable options.
While a community feel is an important piece of the college experience, easily the most significant component is a quality education.
Portland State has a long way to go before it is on par with the nation’s most prestigious public universities, but one way it can efficiently improve its education is by increasing the number of full-time faculty members.
According to data from Portland State’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning, less than 41 percent of the faculty members here are full time. This figure has risen over the past few years but is still almost 10 percent lower than at the University of Oregon or Oregon State.
With a majority of our professors at a part-time status, the concern is that students and faculty are negatively impacted.
In all likelihood, students are receiving an inferior education because their professors are less invested, since they are forced to spread themselves thin by working other jobs just to earn enough money to pay the bills and sustain themselves.
Investing in more full-time and tenured professors is absolutely crucial to the continued growth of Portland State.
If more professors were tenured, they would quickly take a more vested interest in the university, simply because with a higher salary they would be able to drop their other jobs and spend more time perfecting their craft.
Tenured professors are also given more extensive research opportunities, which could raise Portland State’s profile when published, and are also granted additional academic freedom–something that could enrich the educational experience.
Having a place to learn is another crucial component to the educational experience. This may seem obvious, but considering the ambitious undertaking of construction projects on campus, many buildings with classroom space have been eliminated.
Lincoln Hall’s closure this summer, the demolition of the PCAT to make way for the new rec center and the facelift that will soon be given to Science Building 2 all create a squeeze for available classroom space. And this squeeze comes at a time when Portland State is seeing a substantial upswing in enrollment, which will likely complicate matters further.
The message here is not to stop the efforts to improve the university, but instead to keep in mind that Portland State’s primary function is to act as a place of learning, which requires a well lit room with four walls and ample seating at the very least.
With all the changes, Portland State is going through an exciting time in its history. But there is always room for improvement, and these are a few areas the university simply cannot overlook.