PSU honors former staff

Faculty, staff and administrators gathered at two university memorials for former PSU President Joseph Blumel and former history Professor Emeritus Caroline Stoel held at Portland State over the weekend.

Faculty, staff and administrators gathered at two university memorials for former PSU President Joseph Blumel and former history Professor Emeritus Caroline Stoel held at Portland State over the weekend.

PSU President Daniel Bernstine was one of several faculty members who attended the respective ceremonies, in addition to family and friends. Bernstine also spoke at both events.

Joseph Blumel

“He was the iron man of PSU presidents,” Bernstine said of Blumel. “As a president, I felt the impact of Joe’s leadership every day. He put students first and was a man that cared most about people.”

During his presidency at PSU, Blumel was known for his compassion for others’ opinions and steadfast commitment to the university. His 12-year tenure saw the university through some of its harshest economic times.

During the higher education budget crises in the 1970s and 1980s, Blumel was able to save many faculty jobs through internal department restructuring and unwavering dedication for his colleagues.

“I had the privilege of working closely with him in identifying brutal budget decision scenarios,” said Chik Erzurumlu, Ph.D. and dean emeritus at the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Joe insisted to know how people would be affected. He was a class act in human qualities.”

Blumel was also a prominent figure around the Portland community, serving on the Portland Symphony board of directors and as president of the Portland Youth Philharmonic. His friends and family said his love of the arts came from his wife Priscilla, who survives him.

Blumel was also known for his role as a catalyst for university growth.

“We would not have been able to call ourselves a great urban university today had it not been for all the wise and courageous decisions he had to make,” said College of Urban and Public Affairs Dean Emeritus Nohad Toulan, Ph.D.

Caroline Stoel

Also a strong believer in Portland State, Stoel was known for her tenacious lust for life, warm personality and unwillingness to back down in the face of obstacles.

“When doors closed to her she found a new door,” Bernstine said at Stoel’s memorial. “She lived PSU’s motto, ‘Let knowledge serve the city.’ She was a vibrant and engaged person and had a positive impact on thousands of lives.”

Stoel first came to Portland State in her 50s after she was denied a career in law because of gender, Bernstine said.

She was known for her love of law and history, and taught courses in legal history until she retired in her mid-80s. Friends and family said she was a true intellectual, always ready to have a conversation about books or philosophy.

“She always said great people talk about ideas,” her son Tom Stoel said. “She was always willing to say whether Sartre or Camus was the greatest philosopher. She had a zest for life.”

Friends and family said Stoel was also known for her deep compassion for people. This compassion extended into her life at PSU, which co-workers said she committed herself to completely.

“I came to know them as fierce partisans for PSU,” said history Professor David Johnson about Stoel and her husband Tom. “I knew them as individuals that appeared at every event. It made me proud that she felt so strongly about the university.”

In addition to teaching at Portland State, Stoel also served on the Oregon Historical Society board and PSU Foundation board.

The Caroline Stoel Endowed History Fellowship, which gives graduate students a chance to provide editorial assistance to the on-campus journal the Pacific Historical Review, was established in her name by friends and family.

“That testament to Caroline is there,” said Johnson, who also serves as managing editor for the Pacific Historical Review.

Stoel’s family and friends said it was people that she cared about most.

“Caroline was the most remarkable person I’ve ever known,” said Daneal Louise, executive assistant to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “I am a much better person for the time she gave me and the lessons she very gently taught me.”