Portland State University community members gathered on May 4 in the South Park Blocks for the inauguration of Dr. Rahmat Shoureshi, PSU’s ninth president. The event began at 9 a.m. with a procession from the South Park Blocks to the newly built Viking Pavilion, where guests gathered to share stories about Shoureshi’s past accomplishments, as well as PSU’s importance to the local community.
Many speakers who presented spoke not only of Soureshi’s experiences, but of their own educational paths and experiences with PSU. Campus Public Safety Officer Marcianne Jackson spoke about her own son attending PSU and discussed her experiences working on a college campus where she said community and engagement play such a large part in the education process. “Our roles are intertwined as we bring our individual talents and skills,” Jackson said.
Following PSU tradition, Shoureshi was inaugurated eight months after he took on the role of president Aug. 14. During this interim period, Shoureshi was able to establish himself, get accustomed to the PSU campus and formulate his goals for the duration of his presidency.
Shoureshi’s goals include increasing the quality and diversity of incoming students, expanding partnerships with outside organizations and improving the university both financially and academically.
As attendees gathered in the Viking Pavilion, the event continued with a performance by PSU’s chamber choir, performing the song “Indodana” by Michael Barrett. The piece was written to reflect peace and equality—particularly in reference to the South African apartheid—and the need for understanding, movement and justice.
Shoureshi concluded the ceremony by addressing his goals for the years ahead and reflecting on his past as an immigrant from Iran.
“It was very heartwarming for Dr. Shoureshi to share his immigration story,” said University Studies Instructor Dr. Óscar Fernández. “It resonates a lot with me. I’m an immigrant from Costa Rica, and I teach a year-long course on immigration. So it’s very reassuring to have a president who speaks our language and is aware of his own immigration story. I think that’s very telling for our students.”
Shoureshi also spoke of the entirety of the cohort he called Generation Z—referring to those born after 1995—and the inspiration that they bring to the PSU campus. “This is a generation unlike any we have ever seen,” he said. “Luckily, the vast majority of Generation Z still believes in college education. They seek out opportunities to collaborate, to lead and to solve complex problems.”