Vera Katz to join PSU faculty

Former Portland Mayor Vera Katz will be joining the ranks of PSU staff as soon as she meets with Lawrence Wallack, director of Urban and Public Affairs, to discuss just what she’s going to do in her unpaid position as a dean’s visiting fellow in the College of Urban and Public Affairs.

However, it is not yet clear exactly what Katz, who was replaced by Tom Potter as Portland’s mayor on Monday, will teach. According to Judy Tuttle, Katz’s Chief of Staff, Katz hasn’t discussed her role at PSU with Wallack or any other PSU representatives, but will do so in the next few weeks.

In a phone message Tuttle said Katz asked that an article regarding her new job be postponed until she has a chance, which she has not had, to sit down with Wallack and some of his associates and discuss what her job will entail. This will create for her a better understanding of their needs and desires and how those match up with her decision-making and thought processes on moving forward with this position.

Amy Burkle, another assistant to Katz, said that right now there is not a set date for a meeting with Wallack but one will probably take place in the next few weeks.

Tuttle is the only one who has met with Wallack and Debbie Murdock, assistant to the president for government relations.

Various attempts to contact Katz were unsuccessful, though Tuttle and Burkle helped explain why she is so busy. Katz is moving out of the mayor’s office, where she worked for twelve years. She also sold her house earlier than expected, moving out of her home of 30 years.

Burkle said that Katz is excited about the opportunity she has at PSU and that Katz is not the only one. At Potter’s inauguration on Monday, PSU President Bernstine announced Katz’s new position, calling her "the newest member of the PSU family."

Sheila Martin, director of the Institute for Portland Metropolitan Studies, said that Katz’s job description has yet to be discussed with Wallack but that it may involve working on Institute for Portland Metropolitan Studies projects. However, Martin hastened to add that they need to wait and see where Katz’s interests lie.

Wallack said that PSU is excited to be joined by a leading woman in the history of the city’s politics because she’s an "enormous resource" of political history.

He said that the former mayor has guided us through 12 interesting years, and her background, "in a very wonderful way," cuts across all three schools of the College of Urban and Public Affairs: The School of Community Health, The Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and the School of Urban Studies and Planning.

Wallack mentioned PSU’s motto, "Let knowledge serve the city," and said it’s one to which he thinks Katz will contribute.