Mike Irish named facilities director

Mike Irish, who left Portland State University a decade ago to pursue a rising career, is returning to PSU as the new director of facilities.

His appointment was announced Monday by Jay Kenton, vice president of finance and administration, after a search that included interviews with four other candidates. Irish replaces Brian Chase, who left in May for a similar position at Colorado State University.

Irish will take over his new position Jan. 6. He currently serves as associate vice president of facilities and planning at Eastern Washington University. Kenton paid tribute to Irish’s experience at various universities.

“Mike brings with him a wealth of knowledge of Oregon University System facilities operations and direct knowledge of PSU, attributes that should serve him well at PSU,” Kenton said.

Irish worked at Portland State from 1985 to 1992. He provided project management, on-site inspection and testing for all major capital building projects. In his eight-plus years, Kenton said, Irish brought every project in within budget and on-schedule. He also participated in numerous planning and funding projects that enhanced the university’s ability to maintain and improve its facilities.

Duncan Carter, associate dean of English and head of the search committee, said, “The facilities people are ecstatic about the choice.”

“More than any of the other candidates, he can step in tomorrow and take on the position both to the satisfaction of the facilities people but also for Jay Kenton. He can satisfy the needs of both those above and below.”

Reached at his office in Cheney, Wash., Irish said, “I’m excited about coming back. I started my career here and I look forward to finishing it here. I think I can make a positive impact on the university.”

Robyn Pierce has been interim director since May. She was out of the office Tuesday and was unavailable for comment.

One of the assistant directors, Ron Ritchie, called Irish “a good choice.”

“I worked with him 10 years ago,” Ritchie said. “He is well versed in what we do. I’m looking forward to it.”

Irish worked in private industry for a year before moving to Oregon Institute of Technology in 1994-95. There he provided project management for the restoration of the campus after the 1994 earthquakes. From 1995-1999, he was director of facilities and planning at Eastern Oregon University, where he initiated an updated campus master plan among other accomplishments.

In 1999, he moved to Eastern Washington at Cheney as associate vice president of facilities and planning. Carter said that at Eastern Washington, Irish demonstrated a special ability to deal with the Washington State Legislature. He also developed a master plan to realize the shift of the university’s focus from a commuter to a residential campus and the anticipated student enrollment growth.

Irish will be responsible for directing all services, programs and projects on the 41-acre PSU campus with 46 buildings totaling 4.2 million square feet. He will supervise a staff of about 60 people in the planning, design and construction of new facilities and renewal of existing facilities. The average capital construction budget for a biennium is $84 million.

Facilities also is responsible for operations, maintenance, grounds, receiving, warehouse and mail services.