Wim Wiewel issued a notice of his intent to resign from the presidency at Portland State, this morning. Wiewel will complete the 2016-17 academic year, during which the Board of Trustees will begin the search for a replacement.
“While we can never replace Wim, I’m confident that we will find the right person to take Portland State to the next level,” said Board Chair Peter Nickerson in a statement released by University Communications. “Finding that person will be the most important job this board will have.”
President Liela Forbes of the Associated Students of PSU issued a statement to the Vanguard noting that the student government planned to continue working with the Wiewel in the coming year.
“ASPSU thanks Wim for his commitment to Portland State University and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Forbes said in the statement. “I look forward to the next year together and opportunities to help transition in the new leadership of the university.”
The reasons for Wiewel’s resignation remain in question. Upon his retirement, Wiewel will have served nine years as PSU’s president. The American Council on Education noted in a 2012 study that university presidents served an average tenure of seven years, as of 2011, a downward trend from 8.5 years in 2006.
“It is with mixed emotions that I’m announcing that this coming academic year will be my last one as PSU president,” Wiewel said in statement released by University Communications. “By that time, I will be 67 years old and will have served nine years, and I want to have time to pursue some other interests.”
Wiewel’s statement comes after months of contentious engagements with students on a range of issues, including tuition rates, employee pay and the arming of a newly sworn campus police force.
Forbes pointed to some of those frictions in the ASPSU statement, while also pledging to continue working toward solutions.
“Over the last few years, Portland State has seen progress in some areas, but failures in others, especially in regard to the needs of students of color and other marginalized communities,” Forbes said in the statement. “ASPSU is committed to working to make this university a better place for students, and we believe that the president should share this value.”
Wiewel has also led the push to systematically reshape the built environment of campus. Most recently, the Wiewel administration has renovated and built a number of structures, including the Collaborative Life Sciences Building, the School of Business Administration, the Stott Center and, in the next year, Neuberger Hall.
Wiewel also praised his time at the community in a statement to the PSU community.
“Many challenges as well as opportunities for future growth and excellence remain, but I am grateful for all that we have been able to accomplish together,” Wiewel said in the statement. “The work of faculty and staff is at the core of what makes a university great, and I am continually impressed by their dedication to our students. And it has been an enormous pleasure to watch our students succeed in the classroom and in the community.”
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Updated (8-1-2016) to include statements from ASPSU President Liela Forbes