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Big school holds big promise

MY view l Even while Portland State University attracts more national attention, the school is working hard to connect students and faculty with the community

The new year provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon the past and prepare for the future. Now is the time for Oregonians to chart a new course Ñ one that moves Oregon from the distinction as the nation's leader in unemployment rates to the nation's leader in sustainable economic prosperity. I am proud of Portland State University's essential role in these efforts.

A personal and public investment in higher education pays economic dividends, today and in the future.

PSU's unique mission has driven us to connect the university directly to the needs of the community. Graduates from the liberal arts and professional programs are the foundation of a strong economy. Faculty members engaged in research, teaching and community involvement are the cornerstone of a great university like PSU.

PSU has experienced tremendous growth in enrollment Ñ this fall, more than 21,000 highly talented students chose to attend PSU Ñ and today we are Oregon's largest and most diverse university.

This growth, especially in the

areas of computer science and

electrical and computer engineering, means not only more graduates

prepared for high-wage jobs but also graduates engaged in the life of their community.

To meet the educational needs of the region, I am committed to developing partnerships and expanding programs throughout the metropolitan area. I have worked closely with the presidents of the region's community colleges to develop collaborative programs and co-enrollment agreements that address these needs and promote student success and employability.

These times demand a strengthened sense of civic commitment and community engagement. We prepare PSU students to be tomorrow's leaders by linking their studies to the community, whether it is through class projects or internships.

You simply can't graduate from PSU without having a sense of what it means to be a vital partner in the region and without engaging in the academic rigor presented by outstanding faculty. That is why we recently received the prestigious National Service Learning award.

Faculty leaders, resources

In addition to attracting outstanding students, retaining and recruiting impressive faculty members is one of our top priorities. The result is a faculty that is leading the nation in fields including sustainability and the environment, accounting, performing arts, nanoscience, design and testing of integrated circuits, Middle East studies, education, juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, and urban and community development.

Faculty members at PSU are resources for local, national and international organizations and media. They are involved in their communities, and they are engaged in research that makes a difference in our lives.

PSU is one of the fastest-growing research enterprises in the country, and our faculty members are committed to working in collaboration with their peers locally, nationally and throughout the world. In fact, over the past five years we have nearly doubled externally funded research.

Accordingly, I am also committed to providing the Portland metropolitan region with a top-flight engineering and science program, which includes a close alliance with Oregon Health & Science University. Together, we will have one of America's most dynamic and innovative teaching and research engines.

Engaging with China

PSU's excellence in students and faculty has meant increased national recognition for our programs in areas indispensable to our regional economy. This summer, our College of Urban and Public Affairs, with the International Sustainable Development Foundation, launched the first-ever China-U.S. sustainable land-use training program.

Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked our eMBA program one of the top 25 distance-delivered graduate business programs in the nation. Thanks to the work of the Oregon congressional delegation, our Graduate School of Education just received funding to create the Portland Metropolitan Partnership for Secondary School Leadership.

PSU's role as a leader in higher education and in Oregon has emerged because of a campus community that values administrative efficiency and accountability; innovation in academic programs and research; and connectedness to community needs and priorities.

This role has been further enhanced by dramatic increases in support from the business and philanthropic communities. Recently, a media source called PSU 'the epitome of an institution that has built its own opportunity.' While that is certainly a tremendous compliment, I want the community to know that PSU is building more than our own future; we are building a better future for all Oregonians.

Daniel Bernstine is president of Portland State University. He lives in Southwest Portland.