Portland State’s search for a new vice president of finance and administration entered a new phase Thursday, as the first of three finalists for the position met with students to discuss her vision. The position ranks in the second tier in the university’s power structure.
Monica Rimai, currently interim chancellor for administrative affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a position she described as equivalent to that of the vice president at PSU, told a group of student government leaders and student group coordinators that she viewed the position as supporting role.
"I see the role of administration as really there to facilitate the mission of the university. As much as policy is important, I think that without that context I really see that my role is that of facilitator and supporter," she said.
Rimai is the first of three candidates seeking to fill the shoes of Jay Kenton, who left PSU in June for a job at the University of Idaho. Currently, the interim vice president of finance and administration is Cathy Dyck.
Rimai is also the chief legal counsel for the University of Wisconsin. Other bits of her professional experience include working for the Office of the United States Attorney, the City Attorney in Milwaukee, Wis., and in private legal practices.
At noon, a small group of students – including Christy Harper, student government president, several of Rimai’s executive staff members and Morgan Stimson, one of the coordinators of Queers & Allies – met with Rimai to evaluate her candidacy. Tracy Earll, chair of the Student Fee Committee, arrived several minutes after the forum began.
Rimai lead the forum with a discussion of her work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the role that university administration plays in general.
|Meet the other candidates
Students can meet the other candidates for vice president of finance and administration at student forums in the coming weeks.
V. Scott Cole
Third finalist, to be announced
In response to questions about what Rimai expected her relationship with student government at PSU would be, Rimai was very forthcoming about the importance of "transparency" in process.
"If you don’t involve students in those issues involving students on the front end, you will have trouble with them on the back end," she said. "Generally my philosophy is to be very transparent with those issues."
After one member of ASPSU asked her how she differentiates between what interests students and what does not, Rimai said that she’d rather leave that decision up to the students themselves.
Rimai also expressed a belief in process as a key to upholding shared governance in a university setting.
"The essence of process is to invite people in and to establish relationships," she said. "I already know that one of the biggest issues that students have faced with regard to process is the OneCard [PSU’s new ID card]." When asked why she was interested in coming to PSU, Rimai cited several reasons. Her position as an interim vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin was temporary, and that the search for a permanent vice chancellor is currently underway. She is a candidate for that position as well.
"Another big reason I am attracted to this part of the country is that I am an avid mountain climber," she said. "I spend a lot of time in this part of the country."
There are separate forums for students, faculty and staff with each of the finalists for PSU’s vice president of finance and administration throughout January and the first day of February.