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Portland State University (PSU) seeks an enthusiastic, collegial, and visionary leader to serve as the next Dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). One of the few remaining combined Liberal Arts and Sciences colleges of its size, the College provides high quality liberal arts education in an urban, engaged setting, pioneering new programs and boasting a strong research tradition across a broad range of disciplines. The next Dean at CLAS will harness the disciplinary diversity of the College to establish a vision for its future direction in challenging times and advocate for the vital role of liberal arts and sciences in advancing the mission of the public urban research university and modern higher education.
The Dean will lead a College featuring many of PSU’s signature programs and educating more than half of PSU’s students, as nearly every student who attends the University will take a course in CLAS at some point. CLAS embodies the breadth and depth of experience and study, bridging connections between the classroom and the surrounding community, and providing students with innovative learning opportunities. The Dean will support approximately 600 CLAS faculty members who are not only dedicated to PSUs mission of student upward mobility, but who are also pioneers in their fields, researching topics ranging from environmental extremes to migration and peace studies.
Located in the heart of Oregon’s economic and cultural center, Portland State University (PSU) is the most diverse public university in Oregon. PSU enrolls approximately 28,000 students from every state in the nation and more than 80 foreign countries in 88 bachelor’s, 88 master’s, and 37 doctoral programs. Founded in 1946, PSU is hailed by The Princeton Review as one of the best colleges and universities in the West. The University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and all programs are accredited by professional bodies. PSU encompasses eight primary divisions: College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; College of Urban & Public Affairs; College of Education; Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science; School of Business; School of Social Work; and OHSU-PSU School of Public Health; as well as the University Library, University Honors College, and the University Studies Program. A Carnegie Doctoral Research University (High Intensity), PSU has grown its sponsored research in recent years, with $60.5 million in research expenditures in 2017-18. From a vibrant campus spanning 50 buildings in downtown Portland, PSU is an integral part of the Metro area.
Portland State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the University’s largest and most diverse college, home to 24 departments and two Schools spanning the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It serves 7,000 undergraduate and 900 graduate students. The College’s research clusters cut across disciplines and explore important issues such as social justice, migration studies, community resilience, computation and complex systems, environmental extremes, and improving undergraduate STEM education.
The new Dean will build on a strong foundation and can expect in the immediate future to address several key opportunities and challenges:
A list of the desired qualifications and characteristics of the Dean can be found at the conclusion of this document, which was prepared by the Search Advisory Committee with the assistance of Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to provide background information and detail the key opportunities and challenges related to the position. All confidential applications, inquiries, and nominations should be directed to the parties listed at the conclusion of this document.
About Portland State University
Over the last 73 years, Portland State has developed from a temporary extension center to its position today as a nationally recognized urban research university, the largest and most diverse in Oregon. The institution was first established as the Vanport Extension Center in June 1946 to satisfy the demand for higher education in Portland for returning World War II veterans. Following the Vanport Flood of 1948, the college became known as “the college that wouldn't die” for refusing to close after the flood. In 1952, the School moved to downtown Portland and occupied the vacated building of Lincoln High School on SW Broadway Street. In 1955, the School changed its name to Portland State College to mark its maturation into a four-year degree-granting institution, continuing to grow with graduate programs added in 1961 and doctoral programs added in 1968. The institution was granted university status by the Oregon Legislature in 1969, becoming Portland State University (PSU).
In recent years, PSU programs have attracted national attention. When PSU replaced its traditional undergraduate general education distribution system and adopted a new interdisciplinary program, University Studies, in 1994, it received national press, and institutions all over the country visited the PSU campus. For the ninth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has recognized University Studies and on multiple occasions has listed it as a “Program to Look For.” PSU programs continue to garner national recognition and rankings. The University has been named one of the top ten most innovative universities in the country (U.S. News and World Report 2017-2018) and as a Community Engaged Institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. To see an up-to-date list of the outstanding PSU rankings and references by Princeton Review and other nationally respected organizations, please visit the following link: http://www.pdx.edu/profile/portland-state-university-rankings-and-references.
Student diversity and engagement with diverse communities have increased with the expansion and development of academic programs gathered in the School of Gender, Race and Nations, including Black Studies; Indigenous Nations Studies; Chicano/Latino Studies; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In addition, students are supported by a number of resource centers, including five cultural resource centers: La Casa Latina Student Center; Multicultural Student Center; Native American Student & Community Center; Pacific Islander, Asian, and Asian American Student Center; and Pan-African Commons.
A seminal moment in the institution occurred in September 2008, when the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation awarded PSU a ten-year $25M challenge grant to enhance and expand its sustainability efforts. Both the $25M Miller grant and the funds raised to match it are being used exclusively for the advancement of sustainability in program offerings, including research and engagement with community partners. In 2014-15, the University was awarded a $24M grant from NIH to promote the training of traditionally underrepresented undergraduate students for graduate studies and research careers in health and biomedical fields, a grant that was renewed in 2018 because of its continued success. PSU is also the recipient of about $29M in federal funding for its Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), which supports students through research projects and fellowships, develops innovative transportation-related curriculum, and conducts research on multi-modal transportation solutions.
Portland State University has approximately 28,000 students – roughly 22,500 undergraduates and 5,500 graduate students. About 62 percent of students are full time, around 78 percent are residents of Oregon, and 70 percent are transfer students. The University employs approximately 4,135 employees, including 1,853 research and instructional faculty, 2,399 academic professionals, managers, and staff, and 92 administrators. The faculty and most of the staff, including graduate assistants, are represented by various collective bargaining units. Collective bargaining plays a strong role in the University’s governance.
PSU employs adjunct faculty and researchers throughout its academic units who bring diversity and broad experience to their work at PSU. Adjuncts at PSU often teach the same courses as full-time faculty and teach a large share of the total credit hours.
PSU offers over 200 degree programs: 88 bachelor’s, 88 master’s, and 37 doctoral programs. Over the past 20 years, PSU has added doctoral programs and grown into the comprehensive urban research university operating today. Doctoral programs include community health, health systems policy, mathematics, biology, chemistry, computer science, applied psychology, engineering and technology management, mechanical engineering, and sociology.
PSU’s research funding has grown steadily from about $5M in 1990 to more than $65M in 2018-19. In addition, PSU’s Business Accelerator has fostered the growth of 38 businesses, 35 percent of which work directly with PSU’s faculty experts. Research synergies in areas such as medical devices and instrumentation, computer science, urban design and transportation, automation and artificial intelligence, and sustainability support private-sector innovation and improve the quality of life of all Oregonians while helping attract members of the “creative class” to Portland. Social work research and evaluation have led to significant changes in national and state policy relative to child welfare, disability services, and youth service integration.
PSU drives its academic agenda in accordance with the following mission statement:
Our research and teaching have global impact. Entering its 25th year, the University Studies (UNST) general education program is a nationally recognized four-year program designed to provide students a well-balanced educational foundation, which helps them become successful, thoughtful, analytical thinkers. The program provides those learning environments and opportunities that are known to enhance learning, satisfaction, and retention for all students. PSU's four-year general education program is required of all students, with the exception of those enrolled in Liberal Studies or the Honors Program. University Studies begins with Freshman Inquiry, a year-long course introducing students to different modes of inquiry and providing them with the tools to succeed in advanced studies and their majors. At the sophomore level, students choose three different Sophomore Inquiry courses, each of which leads into a thematically linked, interdisciplinary cluster of courses at the upper-division level. Finally, all students are required to complete a Capstone course which consists of teams of students from different majors working together to complete a project addressing a real problem in the Portland metropolitan community.
Diversity, Inclusion, and Globalization
Since its founding, Portland State University has embraced a mission of access to higher education for students across the state. Throughout its growth and development, PSU has remained committed to providing access and opportunity to students from regional, national, and international communities in their pursuit of lifelong learning and diverse educational goals. PSU student body is the most diverse in the state. To this end, PSU has utilized an equity lens in its strategic plan1 and in the development of policies and procedures. PSU values diversity and fosters a climate of mutual respect and inclusiveness that celebrates the diversity of its students, faculty, and staff and supports different points of view and the open exchange of ideas. CLAS faculty have led in securing institutional awards to support equity and inclusion in the sciences, including a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Education Initiative Grant, the National Science Foundation-funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), and multiple S-STEM awards. The University is also committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty and staff to enrich the educational experience of students both inside and outside the classroom and give them the skills they need to flourish and succeed in a diverse global society.
Since 2000, internationalization has been a central theme of PSU, and the University has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to globalization as part of its mission. PSU’s future is guided by the belief that its students will be leaders in an emerging global community. To help achieve this, it strives to weave global thinking seamlessly into everything that it does. Today, PSU has grown to become a university of distinction that attracts students and faculty from around the world, with international students coming from over 80 countries. Additionally, the University hosts approximately 200 international visiting researchers and scholars who contribute their knowledge and expertise to the PSU community. The University also sponsors more than 140 study abroad programs in over 38 countries, and the number of students who study abroad has increased 58 percent since 1999.
Campus Development and Community Partnerships
Portland State has a long history of collaboration with public and private sector partners to make the metro region stronger and more resilient. PSU remains committed to the further and ongoing evolution of a dynamic, energetic, and inviting University District. To this end, it has partnered with the City and private interests to develop a 50-block, mixed-use campus that strengthens the fabric of surrounding neighborhoods. It also invests in infrastructure improvements – such as the streetcar and light rail systems – that enhance the quality of the urban experience.
The PSU campus consists of 49 acres and 50 buildings, including 11 residential student-housing properties. Since 2000, PSU has added more than 1 million square feet of new space through real estate acquisitions and has plans for new capital investments. The University’s special emphasis on the values and practices of community engagement reinforces the potential for successful economic development partnerships and makes PSU a catalytic institution with a sphere of influence that expands well beyond its contributions to a vibrant and active downtown. For more information about Portland State University, click here: http://www.pdx.edu/aboutpsu.
The Interim President: In July 2019, Stephen Percy, formerly Dean of the College of Urban & Public Affairs and a professor of political science, was selected to serve as PSU’s interim president. Percy is expected to serve as interim through the 2019-20 academic year while the Board of Trustees conducts a search for a permanent president. At Portland State since 2014, Percy has headed the campus-wide strategic planning effort that resulted in priorities and goals for PSU from 2016-2020. When serving as dean, Percy worked to expand academic programs and student enrollment and advanced a diverse set of centers and institutes that promote civic engagement, support community problem solving, and advance community and regional planning.
The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs: Dr. Susan Jeffords, Ph.D., joined Portland State University in August 2018. Prior to arriving at PSU, Jeffords spent the majority of her career at the University of Washington, where she served in numerous leadership roles, including Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Vice Provost for Global Affairs, and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington Bothell campus. She has overseen strategic planning processes and numerous institutional change and transformation agendas.
Governance: In 2014, PSU became an independent public body governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor with the approval of the Oregon Legislature. The state appropriation and all major academic policies and program changes at PSU are coordinated through Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. PSU has a strong tradition of shared governance, of which the Faculty Senate is an essential component.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The University’s largest and most diverse college, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is home to 24 departments and two Schools spanning the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. It serves 7,000 undergraduate and 900 graduate students. It is home to research clusters that cut across disciplines and explore important issues such as social justice, migration studies, community resilience, computation and complex systems, environmental extremes, and improving undergraduate STEM education. In addition to educating the largest percentage of PSU students, the College is pioneering new programs and continuing a strong research tradition. In 2018, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at PSU became the first University in the state of Oregon to offer a major in Indigenous Nations and Native American Studies through the College’s School of Gender, Race, and Nations. The College teaches 16 languages and is home to the Russian Flagship Program, one of only six federally-funded programs in the nation. Most recently in 2019, a team of Portland State University researchers in Chemistry received a $3.15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to further the research on a possible one-pill cure for malaria.
To learn more about CLAS, visit https://www.pdx.edu/clas/home.
Academic Programs and Student Success
To pursue its mission, the College offers 24 bachelor's degrees in the Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences. Each provides insights and perspectives enabling students to study, evaluate, and understand themselves and their place in society. Top undergraduate majors in the College include Psychology, Biology, English, General Studies, Social Science and Communication Studies. The full offerings of bachelor’s degrees and minors include the following areas:
The College also offers 20 master's degrees in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. Doctoral degrees in Biology, Mathematical Sciences, Mathematics Education, and Environmental Sciences and Management, and joint doctoral degrees with System Science in Anthropology, Economics, Mathematics, Psychology, and Sociology. In addition, CLAS provides undergraduate, graduate, and post-bac certificate programs in several areas in addition to pre-professional programs and online degree options.
Dedicated to student success, CLAS currently has the highest first-year student retention rate of all Colleges at PSU, reaching a university-high of 76.3 percent in 2016. CLAS adopted an early graduation intervention program that has resulted in successful graduation applications of 60 percent of CLAS majors whose degree applications were initially deficient. The CLAS “Last Mile Program” has helped over 400 students graduate with the help of a donor-supported scholarship for this program. Student access to scholarships remains a priority for the College with 25 new scholarships having been established in the last three years.
Research, Scholarship, and Faculty
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has 274 tenured and tenure track faculty, 113 non-tenure track full time faculty, and 216 non-tenure track part time faculty. Faculty and departments are supported by 55 full time equivalent support staff.
Beyond their exemplary work as engaged and active teachers, faculty members in the College are also distinguished in their respective fields as researchers and scholars, publishing in top academic journals and other forms of scholarly contributions. Faculty in CLAS are tackling some of society's most pressing issues, including Alzheimer's disease, malaria treatment, urban air quality, climate change, and kindergarten readiness. Intentional college-wide research clusters bring together faculty from across departments and include:
Faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences engage in a wide range of research and scholarship. Funded projects include large multi-site studies, national research and training centers, major workforce development initiatives, and community-based evaluations. Faculty, students, and researchers in CLAS conduct around $15 million in expenditures for research, training, and outreach projects.
The College is home to six centers and institutes:
To read more about the work at the centers and institutes visit: https://www.pdx.edu/clas/centers-and-institutes.
The Role of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
In guiding the College forward in its key mission as the intellectual bedrock of PSU, the Dean will engage with a multidisciplinary team of faculty, staff, and students, as well as with other constituencies within the academy and in the public sphere. As the chief executive and academic officer, the Dean will set the standard for intellectual engagement and accomplishment by providing a strategic vision for and operational leadership of all College programs and activities.
The Dean will be the College’s public voice, promoting initiatives within Portland State itself, and articulating the College’s contributions in local, state, regional, national, and international arenas. The Dean will be responsible for effective management of the College and development of CLAS financial and other resources. Accountable for the financial well-being of the College, the Dean will manage a $65 million budget. The Dean will actively participate in external fundraising alongside the University Foundation, with goals of approximately $6 million annually for the College. In conducting this work, the Dean will collaborate with the president, provost and vice president for academic affairs, vice presidents, deans, and department chairs. The Dean will report to the provost and vice president for academic affairs and oversee the associate deans and dean’s office staff.
Key Opportunities and Challenges for the Dean
The new Dean will build on a strong foundation and can expect in the immediate future to address several key opportunities and challenges:
Provide collaborative and decisive leadership of CLAS during challenging times. With a solid understanding of and commitment to CLAS’ role within the public urban university mission, the next Dean will navigate the multiple priorities of the position while bringing visibility to the many successes and strengths of those who contribute to the College. Respecting and celebrating differences among departments, the Dean will support policies and initiatives that are data-informed and encourage collaboration across the College. The Dean will prioritize efforts to create and promote equitable and inclusive practices that serve the College’s diverse community at all levels. Focused on the holistic support of students, faculty, and staff, the Dean will be a strong advocate for CLAS at the executive level and model resilient, creative, and entrepreneurial behaviors in leveraging limited resources in a challenging environment. The Dean will also have the experience and temperament required to work effectively in challenging fiscal environments. Bringing effective change management experience, transparency, and integrity, the Dean will strengthen communications and navigate competing fiscal demands, with a strong commitment to a shared governance culture.
Articulate a strategic vision and plan for the future impact and success of CLAS at PSU and in the Portland metro area and region
The next Dean will have the opportunity to shape a new and compelling strategic vision and plan that engages the diversity of the Colleges’ departments, spurs new thinking, and incorporates the balance of teaching and research. The Dean will lead the College in reimagining the role of CLAS for the future, taking a long-term view of how the College will respond to the changing environment with a steady focus on student needs. The Dean will work across CLAS to increase the diversity of its faculty and continue to foster a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environment. With attention to the needs of graduate programming, they will also strengthen opportunities and reduce barriers to continued interdisciplinary work in the College and support recent successful efforts such as cluster hiring that have built out new areas of opportunity and scholarship. In building upon the distinctive community connections and presence generated by CLAS, they will leverage its Portland location, increase visibility for CLAS, and help generate new and significant partnerships for community engagement and investment. Playing a central role in the development of the strategic vision and oversight of its implementation, the Dean will ensure that all voices are included in the planning process and continue to seek feedback from the CLAS community.
Generate and manage resources effectively to support the health and growth of the College
The Dean will bring acumen to work with financial leadership in examining metrics and processes and will create savings by leading with consensus through inevitable tough decisions and cuts. They will be adept at working with competing priorities, keenly aware of those in CLAS, and the budget implications related to the College and broader University. Furthermore, they will work with College leadership to explore additional revenue generation opportunities that serve the region and bolsters enrollment, such as increased online program presence or new graduate offerings. With the budget model currently under review and an upcoming shift to an activity-based budgeting system, the Dean will lead through upcoming changes with a strong commitment to collaborative and transparent processes. The Dean will also work closely with the Foundation to champion the work of the College, identify and pursue new avenues of financial backing, and build philanthropic support from individual donors, foundations, and the private sector. To seek out additional external sources of feedback, input, and support, the Dean will create a College advisory board to inform the leadership decision making of the College, as well as actively support its fundraising efforts. The Dean’s strong management of budget pressures combined with creative openness to find additional sources will support the future health of the College.
Guide CLAS to strengthen student experience and success
The Dean will work strategically with faculty and staff to enhance the quality of academic preparation, while continually assessing the relevance, sequencing, and availability of courses. With CLAS playing a key role in the distinctive PSU University Studies Program, the Dean will ensure that content is relevant to current and future needs. Bringing expertise and experience in the levers and metrics of student success, the Dean will provide essential support to all chairs and departments in developing and implementing robust student success plans, sharing best practices widely throughout the College. The Dean will hold the big picture of ensuring students have cohesive and coordinated resources and supports to succeed, thrive, and graduate, as well as having access to impactful experiences, such as undergraduate research, where possible.
Particular focus will be given to equity work within the College to support the diverse student body, which includes a large percentage of first generation students. Partnering closely with student affairs and support services, specific attention will be given to immediate student needs, including issues of food and housing security, and instituting appropriate policies and systems in the College.
Draw on and cultivate the complexity of the College and the talents of faculty and staff
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a large academic enterprise with a complex financial and operational profile. The Dean will ensure that the infrastructure of the College is aligned with its academic aspirations and that the deep expertise of faculty and staff is leveraged in its planning and operations, empowering all to do their best work. The Dean will further strengthen communication within the College, valuing and leveraging strong shared governance while operating in a unionized environment. Supportive of the impact of research and scholarship on teaching and academic preparation, the Dean will build on successful programming in the Dean’s office, such as promotion and tenure workshops. The Dean will continue to invest in the professional development of all types of faculty and staff, building out onboarding, mentoring, and additional training opportunities where possible. In addition, the Dean will be attentive to promoting opportunities and removing obstacles for interdisciplinary growth. Maintaining a strong commitment to proactive initiatives of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as strengthening retention efforts, the Dean will aim to enhance a supportive and thriving community of excellence, success, and collegiality at all levels within the College.
Qualifications and Characteristics
The successful candidate will be a nationally recognized, strong, inclusive, and entrepreneurial leader able to infuse Portland State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a sense of common purpose and create a record of accomplishment that engenders pride. Requirements include a record of distinguished research, teaching, and/or public service; administrative experience; proven success in securing public and private funds; and credentials that merit appointment at the rank of full professor in the College.
The Dean will make critical contributions to the continued development of a distinguished institution. This is an exceptional opportunity for an individual with the drive, skill, and experience to bring creative leadership to the organization and to play a meaningful role in shaping its future. The Dean will work collaboratively with the PSU administrative leadership team and other executives at the University. The selected candidate, whose leadership is eagerly sought, will make a meaningful difference to the institution. In addition, the candidate will possess most if not all of the following:
Big city excitement and small-town charm make Portland, known as “the City of Roses” one of the most popular cities on the west coast. Situated where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet and approximately 70 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Portland enjoys a magnificent setting, combining sparkling waterways with lush greenery rarely found in urban settings. Portland is home to approximately 647,800 residents and the population of the surrounding metropolitan area is approximately 2.6 million. Portland is widely recognized in national surveys and rankings as one of America's most livable cities, and is ranked #1 as the most desirable city for career development and entrepreneurship.
Portland’s historic old town, many galleries and museums, Saturday Market, Waterfront Park and an abundance of fine restaurants keep residents and visitors busy and satisfied. The performing arts in the area offer classical music, jazz and blues, as well as theater and dance. Portland is just a short distance from the spectacular Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls, windsurfing at Hood River, valley wineries, skiing at Mt. Hood, and the drama of the Oregon coast.
Portland is known for its extensive park system of more than 200 parks. These encompass such areas as the elm shaded South Park Blocks in the downtown area and Washington Park, home of the Rose Gardens and the Japanese Gardens. Portland's Forest Park, at nearly 5,000 acres, is the largest park within a city in the U.S. and has nearly 50 miles of walking trails. Portland’s award-winning mass transit system is one of the most extensive and advanced in the U.S. and includes buses and the MAX, an urban light rail line, as well as a downtown transit mall. Relocation information can be found at http://www.portlandreloguide.com/
Applications, Inquiries, and Nominations
Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process. Inquiries, nominations, referrals, and CVs with cover letters should be sent via the Isaacson, Miller website for the search: http://www.imsearch.com/6838. Electronic submission of materials is strongly encouraged.