The provost and the financier

From a crowd of candidates who were quick to tout their understanding of Portland State’s issues, hiring committees for two top administration posts chose candidates with deep PSU roots.

The former vice president of finance and administration and a current professor will fill the vacant vice president of finance and administration and provost positions at Portland State, President Daniel Bernstine announced last week.

Lindsay Desrochers, who served as finance and administration vice president from 1991-95, returns to the position after working in Georgia and California’s higher education systems. Roy Koch, a professor of environmental science and civil engineering, will take the provost position. Koch worked as vice provost for graduate education and research with then-provost Michael Reardon before returning to the faculty ranks.

The provost and vice president are power players, ranking just under President Bernstine as the university’s visionaries. The provost oversees the deans and academic policy. As finance and administration vice president, Desrochers will handle the real estate and facility management side of university growth.

The jobs have been open since former Provost Mary Kay Tetreault and Finance and Administration Vice President Jay Kenton simultaneously tendered their resignations last May.

Koch takes over for Interim Provost Michael Reardon July 1. Reardon said he is "delighted" with the decision.

"I think it’s a great choice," Reardon said of his replacement. "He worked with me when I was provost before. I have a high regard for him."

Desrochers will replace Interim Vice President Cathy Dyck starting Dec. 1. Desrochers said she is excited to return to PSU, but has committed to finishing her current project of constructing the California university system’s newest institution at Merced. The university will open in September, and Desrochers plans to visit PSU before starting work.

"The first thing I need to do is take advantage of the people who are there, and ask them questions even more carefully than before," she said. "I’m coming back after more than 10 years, and I respect the fact that there are people who know a lot more than me. I can be very helpful and creative when we talk about how we do something."

Desrochers’ current position of Vice Chancellor for Administration at UC Merced has broadened her experience. Desrochers has developed the campus from purchasing property on and found money for services the state won’t fund – a useful skill for PSU, which is dealing with increasing demand and fewer state resources.

Desrochers has tried to return to PSU before. In 1997 she applied to replace former president Judith Ramaley, eventually losing the bid to current president Bernstine.

Koch said that despite the climate of budget cuts, which translates into tough decisions for a provost, he wanted the job so he could give a faculty member’s inside perspective.

"I’ve been here a long time. Portland State has changed a lot. We’re growing. We have a lot more students than we did five years ago. As a faculty member, I’ve experienced some of the issues surrounding that growth," Koch said.

Studying up for the interviews gave Koch a fresh appreciation for the university, he said. "I got a better sense of how we’ve grown."

At a meeting with students in February, Desrochers said she is attracted to PSU by the urban atmosphere. She said she was impressed with continued work to integrate the university into the city.

Desrochers described her previous tenure as "a time when the campus more specifically defined what it means to be a urban university," she said, emphasizing that PSU’s growth since her departure is partly due to groundwork she laid in 1991-95.

"I was right here at the inception and I will continue to do that," she said. "With Bernstine’s blessing, of course," she added.