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Finalists for PSU President Announced

Di Saunders – Cell: 971-219-6869

Top three candidates to meet with campus community between April 2 -10

Portland, OR, March 20 – Three finalist candidates for the new president of Portland State University were announced today by George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the Oregon University System. 

James Francesconi, chair of the search committee and a member of the State Board of Higher Education, forwarded the slate of finalists to the Chancellor. The finalists are: Dr. Kathie L. Olsen, deputy director and chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation; Dr. Wim Wiewel, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Baltimore; and Dr. Jon Whitmore, president of Texas Tech University.

“The search committee could not be happier with this excellent slate of finalists,” said Francesconi. “The next president of PSU has a diverse and intense set of responsibilities to take the university to the next stage of excellence in academics, research, and leadership in community engagement, among other critical areas. An important component of this presidency will be to not only advance the higher education agenda at PSU, but also in the entire Portland metro area and across the state as well. The skill sets of each of these candidates provide a rich set of qualifications and unique attributes well matched to the needs and success trajectory for PSU. We look forward to having each candidate on campus to interact with students, faculty, staff and other members of our extended community.”

Once appointed, the new president will begin his/her leadership at PSU in the late summer or early fall. The successful candidate will replace interim president Michael Reardon, who served in several leadership positions in prior years at PSU, including provost, vice provost, director of University Honors program and chair of the History Department. Reardon was appointed by chancellor Pernsteiner after the departure of former president Dan Bernstine last summer, who served as President from 1997 to 2007 and left for a position as president and CEO at the Law School Admission Council.

The Honorable Dr. Kathie Olsen has served as deputy director and chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2005 when she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In this role, her responsibilities include overseeing program creation and administration – including co-leading the NSF management team – strategic and long-term planning, budget, day-to-day operations, and she also maintains and oversees international cooperation and collaboration in research, with an emphasis in science and technology capacity development.

Prior to this position, Dr. Olsen served as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President from 2002 to 2005 where she worked with the Office of Management and Budget to set forth the annual research and development vision, guiding federal agencies on science and technology priorities. From 1999 to 2002, Olsen was the Chief Scientist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) where she served as the senior scientific advisor and principal interface with the national and international scientific community, and functioned as the principal advisor on the budget content of the NASA’s science programs.  From 2000-2002, Dr. Olsen also served as the acting associate administration for the new Office of Biological and Physical Research. 

Olsen was senior staff associate in the Office of Integrative Activities with the NSF from 1997 to 1999 carrying out cross-organizational activities and providing science, engineering and education policy support, and served in other NSF positions including special assistant in Neuroscience, and both acting deputy division director and leader in Integrative Biology and Neuroscience, director of the Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Program and associate director in Psychobiology/Integrative Neural Systems Programs. Other positions held by Dr. Olsen have included Brookings Institution LEGIS fellow from 1996 to 1997; adjunct associate professor in Microbiology at George Washington University from 1989 to 1992; and assistant professor, res. assistant professor, and research scientist in Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and in the Long Island Research Institute at the State University of New York – Stony Brook from 1980 to 1989.

Dr. Olsen has served in numerous service positions, including the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, co-chair of the US-EC Task Force on Biotechnology Research, vice president of the International Human Frontiers Science Program, the United National Education, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Institute of Medicine. She is the recipient of numerous honors awards and honorary degrees from academic institutions, professional societies, and governments, including elected fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Women in Science, the Norwegian Royal Order of Merit, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal, and The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Educator Award.She was recently elected to membership of The Explorer’s Club.  Olsen received her Postdoctoral Fellow from Harvard Medical School, her Ph.D. in Biology from University of California-Irvine, and her B.S. in Biology and Psychology from Chatham College.  She was born in Portland, Oregon and graduated from Cleveland High School. 

Dr. Wim Wiewel has served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and professor of public affairs at the University of Baltimore since 2004. During this time he has led the revamping of the university budget model and process, created greater transparency, equity and incentives, reorganized enrollment management and spurred significant enrollment growth, promoted diversity among faculty and staff, developed the first Academic Plan, and strengthened shared governance.

Prior to his current position, Dr. Wiewel served in several positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1979 to 2004, including dean and interim dean of the College of Business Administration (1999-2004); professor of Managerial Studies (2000-2004); founding dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (1996-2000); professor, associate professor and assistant professor of Urban Planning and Policy (1986-2004); director of the Great Cities Institute (1995-1999); special assistant to the Chancellor (1993-1996); director, Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED, 1983-1993); and research associate at the CUED (1979-1983). Wiewel served as assistant site monitor with the Housing Assistance Supply Experiment at the Rand Corporation from 1976 to 1979.

Dr. Wiewel is the author of numerous books, book chapters and reviews, dozens of articles, numerous research reports and technical reports, academic papers presented as well as many other professional presentations. A few examples include: Global Universities and Urban Development: Case Studies and Analysis (2008); The University as Urban Developer: Case Studies and Analysis (2005); and Partnerships for Smart Growth: University Community Collaboration for Better Public Places (2005). Wiewel has also been awarded dozens of grants and contracts, including $2.4 million and $580,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and $229,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunication Infrastructure Administration. Honors and awards received by Dr. Wiewel have included the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-ACSP Urban Policy Scholarship Award, and Fellow of the Urban Land Institute. Wiewel has served on numerous committees and boards, including the UB President’s Executive Cabinet, the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, the Urban Land Institute, the Economic Policy Institute, and Governor O’Malley’s Transition Team-Transportation Task Force. Wiewel received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University, his ‘Doctoraal’ Degree in Sociology and Urban Planning, and his ‘Candidaat’ Degree in Sociology, both from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Dr. Jon Whitmore has served as president of Texas Tech University since 2003, a campus of more than 28,000 students, with an annual budget of $580 million, annual gifts of $50 million, and a Carnegie classification of doctoral granting: high research activity. In this role and his other administrative positions, Dr. Whitmore has built nationally ranked academic programs, raised research profiles, participated in state-wide and community economic development, championed the concept of shared governance and the appointment of women and minorities to faculty and administrative positions, overseen budgets of over $1 billion, worked with three state legislatures and on Capitol Hill, and raised funds from alumni, foundations and corporations. Whitmore appointed an independent faculty-led Athletic Council at Texas Tech, and he currently serves at vice chair of the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors.

Prior to his position at Texas Tech, Dr. Whitmore served as provost of the University of Iowa from 1996 to 2003, with numerous colleges and academic support units reporting to him, including the Colleges of Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Medicine, and Public Health; and International Programs, Continuing and Distance Education, University Honors, Admissions, Registrar, Financial Aid, and Academic Advising. From 1990 to 1996 Whitmore served as dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. He served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters at the State University of New York-Buffalo from 1985 to 1990. From 1979 to 1985, Whitmore was interim dean of the College of Creative Arts, interim director of the Creative Arts Center, assistant to the President, and chair of the Division of Theatre at West Virginia University. He has also served as a professor of Theatre at Texas Tech, University of Iowa, University of Texas, and West Virginia University.

Dr. Whitmore is the author of numerous books, book chapters, editorials, articles and reviews, including: Directing Postmodern Theatre: Shaping Signification in Performance, and “Focusing Higher Education Accountability on Institutional Improvement.” Whitmore has also directed more than 60 theatrical performances. Dozens of invited papers and presentations are part of Whitmore’s portfolio of work, including: “Leadership in Advancing Diversity Initiatives,” and “Better Preparing Students for College: Alignment, Affordability and Accountability.” Professional activities and community service Whitmore has been involved with include vice chair of the Texas Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors and chair of its Legislative Affairs Committee; member of the Presidential Advisory Committee of the American Council on Education; chair of the Council on Academic Affairs of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges; and member of the Board of Directors of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance. Dr. Whitmore received his Ph.D. in Theatre History from the University of California-Santa Barbara; his M.A. and B.A. in Speech from Washington State University.  He is a native of Seattle, Washington.

Pernsteiner said all three finalists would visit the PSU campus between April 2 and 10. Visits and forums with students, faculty, campus administration and community leaders will be included in the schedule for each candidate, with the public meeting schedule posted on the PSU website.

The State Board of Higher Education will interview candidates after the campus visits are completed, and expects to make a decision on the next president of PSU by early May.

Note to Editors: Downloadable photos of the candidates and complete bios are available at http://www.pdx.edu/president_finalists.html

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