Vision, Mission and Values
Our vision: Portland State University leads the way to an equitable and sustainable future through academic excellence, urban engagement and expanding opportunity for all.
- We serve and sustain a vibrant urban region through our creativity, collective knowledge and expertise.
- We are dedicated to collaborative learning, innovative research, sustainability and community engagement.
- We educate a diverse community of lifelong learners.
- Our research and teaching have global impact.
We promote access, inclusion and equity as pillars of excellence.
- We commit to curiosity, collaboration, stewardship and sustainability.
- We strive for excellence and the kind of innovation that solves problems.
- We believe everyone should be treated with integrity and respect.
Engaged with the community
Portland State University is a nationally recognized leader in community engagement, combining academic rigor in the classroom with community-based learning. With a student body of 28,000, Portland State is selected by a wide range of students from the U.S. and abroad. The university’s urban setting and focus on community partnerships, make it a “living laboratory” that successfully prepares tomorrow’s forward thinking leaders with the experience they will need to succeed. Portland State’s growing reputation for excellence prompted U.S. News & World Report to rank PSU among the top 10 "most innovative" universities in the nation in 2016-17.
Distinguished programs and faculty.
Many of Portland State’s disciplinary programs are nationally ranked in the top 20 in the United States, and U.S. News & World Report has ranked Portland State’s curriculum among the best in the nation for the past 10 years. The innovative University Studies program, a four-year general education program which promotes community-based learning, interdisciplinary teaching and learning and engagement in real world problems, has established Portland State as a national model for other colleges and universities, seeking to adapt their curriculum to better engage with their own communities.
Portland State professors are prized for their knowledge, research, achievements, and, ability to engage students. Faculty come to Portland State from colleges and universities around the world. Though diverse in culture, background, language, and ethnicity, they come to Portland unified in their commitment to be part of the University’s exceptional approach to learning, engagement, and research.
PSU’s motto, “Let knowledge serve the city,” inspires faculty research locally and around the world. Many professors conduct research that addresses some of society’s greatest challenges—providing students with firsthand
knowledge and opportunities for involvement and collaboration in their communities. Faculty use their expertise to serve the region through their work with businesses, not-for-profits, and governmental agencies and by holding key posts in professional, cultural, and civic groups.
Portland: The community is our campus.
Portland State University’s prized location in the middle of a major city guarantees students are always within easy reach of something exciting. Parks, museums, cafes, theaters, shopping, acclaimed restaurants, and professional sports are all close by.
Since its establishment in 1946 to meet the educational needs of GIs home from World War II battlefields, Portland State found its first home in Vanport, a former federal housing project along the Columbia River. The campus moved to Lincoln Hall in Portland’s South Park Blocks in 1952 and now encompasses 50 city blocks, yet still retains a park-like beauty within its urban setting.
The Park Blocks, a natural gathering area for students and faculty, provide a place to talk or study. East of the Park Blocks, PSU’s Urban Center stands at the busiest public transportation hub in the city. It’s the only location in the city where TriMet’s bus system, Portland Streetcar, and MAX light rail line come together. Bicycling to campus is not considered an alternative transportation method, but a main way students get to campus.
With urban sophistication, small town accessibility, and many outdoor activities, Portland and Portland State offer a great living and learning experience.
Sustainability: It's what we do.
In 2016 Sierra magazine ranked PSU 14th in the nation, and first in Oregon, for its commitment to sustainability. The official publication of Sierra Club, Sierra commended PSU for its innovative strategies for reducing wasted, conserving resources, and advancing environmental research.
At Portland State University, students have the opportunity to take sustainability lessons beyond the classroom, engaging directly with the community to solve real-world problems and achieve new levels of sustainability at the local and regional levels. Portland State strives to harness the strengths of the university—with new ideas, innovative partnerships, and rigorous academic programs—moving closer to solving the environmental, social, and economic problems of our time.
The campus itself is a model for sustainability; each new building or major renovation on campus since 2004 has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The new buildings include such sustainable design features as ecoroofs, rainwater harvesting, and geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Working with like-minded businesses, individuals, and organizations, faculty and students are performing valuable research and developing solutions to address issues related to climate change, public health, urbanization, and much more. With sustainability as a campus-wide learning outcome, students in departments across campus consider issues that integrate economic, social, and environmental viewpoints. Armed with this knowledge and experience, they will join a generation of leaders building a more equitable, livable, resilient world.
Research & Strategic Partnerships
PSU is the region’s leading urban research university and offers wide-ranging research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. PSU researchers engage in addressing the critical challenges of the 21st century through groundbreaking research in environmental science, urban development, and community health. Our faculty includes internationally recognized researchers in engineering and physical, natural, and social sciences, making vital contributions in research areas ranging from the origins of life to machine learning, to designing resilient cities. Researchers at PSU engage in a tradition on of innovation and discovery and work across disciplines and with industry, government agencies, and other universities to find solutions, fill knowledge gaps, and improve life in Oregon, the nation, and the world.
PSU partners with our sister institutions in Oregon through Signature Research Centers in nanotechnology, drug discovery, and sustainability in the built environment. We collaborate with Oregon Health and Science University through interdisciplinary research where our expertise in social science, biology, and chemistry add value to their clinical expertise. Our research strengths in specialized fields such as invasive species and ecosystem services attract world-class partners like the Smithsonian Institution. And our strong relationships with companies like Intel and Portland General Electric provide partnerships in cutting-edge research as well as training opportunities for students and employees.
The Founding of Portland State University
Portland State University’s roots trace back to the summer of 1946 when the Oregon State Board of Higher Education approved the opening of a temporary school in North Portland to offer lower-division coursework. Vanport Extension Center (VEC), named for its location between Portland and Vancouver, was situated in Vanport City, a wartime housing project that promised resident and classroom space for the students attending VEC. Spearheaded by founder and director, Stephen Epler, VEC soon became known as “Vanport College” and was immediately successful in meeting local demands for higher education by returning World War II servicemen and women. When fall term registration closed at VEC, more than 1,400 students enrolled, eclipsing the projection of 500 and signaling future success for the center.
Seemingly ending VEC’s future, the 1948 Memorial Day flood of the Columbia River destroyed Vanport City, including the center. Epler and his colleagues kept the school alive, using federal funds to reinstate the campus at “Oregon Ship,” a former Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation site. The school’s commitment and fighting spirit earned it the national reputation as “the college that would not die.” Students, faculty, community groups, and legislators were strong advocates for the school, spurring its permanence and move in 1952 to its present location in Portland’s South Park Blocks, where it became the Portland State Extension Center in the former Lincoln High School (now Lincoln Hall).
In 1955, the legislature created Portland State College as a four-year degree-granting institution. Graduate work was added in 1961; doctoral programs began in 1968, and the institution became Portland State University in 1969. The University has grown from an initial enrollment of 1,410 students in 1946 to become one of Oregon’s largest universities.
“Portland State formed a legacy of courage, leadership, dedication, and collaboration during its founding years, 1946-1955. These qualities enabled a small extension center to become a four-year, degree-granting college. Today this legacy inspires Portland State University to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural, and economic vitality of Portland, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.”1
The Founder and presidents who have served the University are:
- Stephen E. Epler (Vanport Extension Center), 1946 to 1952;
- John F. Cramer, 1955 to 1958;
- Branford P. Millar, 1959 to 1968;
- Gregory B. Wolfe, 1968 to 1974;
- Joseph C. Blumel, 1974 to 1986;
- Natale A. Sicuro, 1986 to 1988;
- Roger N. Edgington (interim president), 1988 to 1990;
- Judith A. Ramaley, 1990 to 1997;
- Daniel O. Bernstine, 1997 to 2007;
- Michael F. Reardon (interim president), 2007 to 2008; and
- Wim Wiewel, 2008 to 2017.
- Rahmat Shoureshi, 2017 to present.
From Creating Portland State: 1946-1955.
Accreditation of an institution of higher education by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited college or university is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.
Accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution. Inquiries regarding an institution's accredited status by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities should be directed to the administrative staff of the institution.
Individuals may also contact:
Northwest Commission on College and Universities
8060 165th Avenue N.E., Suite 100
Redmond, WA 98052
In the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA)
of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). The Department of Chemistry is accredited by the American Chemical Society (ACS)
In the College of the Arts; the School of Music & Theater’s bachelor’s and master’s programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)
. Theater programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theater (NAST)
. The Master of Architecture degree in the School of Architecture is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
In the College of Urban and Public Affairs; the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB)
. The Master of Public Administration degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)
. The Master of Public Administration – Health Administration and the Master of Public Health – Health Management & Policy are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
In the Graduate School of Education; teacher education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
and by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC)
. The counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
. The Helen Gordon Child Development Center is accredited by the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
In the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science; undergraduate programs in civil, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
. The computer science program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
. ABET can be contacted at 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012 - telephone: (410) 347-7700.
In the School of Business; the undergraduate and graduate business programs as well as the accounting program are accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB)
In the School of Public Health; the bachelor’s programs in Health Studies, and the Master of Public Health degrees are accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
In the School of Social Work; both the bachelor’s and the master’s programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)