Leaving a legacy

Students, faculty and administration gathered last Wednesday to honor the work and retirement of Dr. Charles White.

Known as the “Father of University Studies,” White has worked in the political science department and as an associate dean for University Studies since he came to Portland State in the fall of 1971.

White calls his involvement with University Studies as “serendipitous.” The creation of the program came from a working group of PSU faculty members that White chaired.

“PSU is blessed with wonderfully creative faculty,” he said of the experience.

Credited with naming and helping to create and design the interdisciplinary program, White has been able to see the vision of his colleagues put to work.

White has watched the program establish PSU as a phenomenon with community-based learning. “We’ve become nationally known,” he said. “None of us anticipated that.”

White attributes the program퀌_s success to the faculty and students who worked on it from its inception and haven퀌_t stopped. While still just a proposal, students were given the opportunity to share what does and does not work in curriculum.

A lack of community was one of the biggest concerns addressed at a symposium almost ten years ago. Focusing on this concern, inquiry classes help students excell through group solidarity within a large university.

As White noted, “Every school has general education. Some do it well and some don’t. We do it very well.”

White also cited the program퀌_s ability to evolve as fundamental to its success.

“If we continue to do this well, [University Studies] will never stop changing,” he said.

Though White announced his retirement one year ago, he will continue to teach Freshmen Inquiry classes and to manage a federal grant.

“I didn’t want to stop teaching, writing and doing research. So, I’m very lucky to keep doing this,” he said.