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Portland State University -- Strategic planning, Portland State University -- Aims and objectives, Diversity in the workplace -- Oregon, Cultural competence -- Evaluation, Organizational effectiveness, Intercultural communication, Educational equalization -- United States, Student-centered learning, Social justice, Higher education -- Social aspects, Inclusive education, Critical pedagogy, Minorities -- Education -- United States, Educational change -- United States, Racial equity


Portland State University is situated in the heart of downtown Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Multnomah County rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other Tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River. Multnomah is a band of Chinooks that lived in this area. Portland State University wishes to recognize that since time immemorial these have been the lands of the Indigenous peoples of this region.

Since its inception as Vanport Extension Center (VEC) in 1946, the institution now known as Portland State University has provided a rich learning environment for many not encouraged by other institutions.

In an era when a college education was usually reserved for those with the most privilege, VEC actively encouraged the enrollment of veterans, first generation college students, students with children, women and people of color. As the first publicly supported institution of higher learning in Portland, VEC committed itself to engaging all members of the community. That commitment continues today and PSU remains the most diverse four-year campus in the state.

With the creation of VEC, the promise of an equitable education opportunity was made by the state of Oregon to those who had served in the nation’s armed forces as well as others for whom social justice had been denied, although funding was initially tentative. Today, we the framers of this Diversity Equity and Inclusion Plan (DEIP) endeavor to bring that promise to realization here at Portland State University. Student protests against the current condition challenge us to reach greater heights in our vision of a possible future. We trust that the efforts made in creating this plan adequately address our need to be a socially just organization in all we do.

Later dubbed The College That Would Not Die, VEC had to weather natural disaster and endure political obstacles along the road. VEC struggled both against the established Oregon universities for funding and the outright societal prejudice exhibited against underrepresented and underserved groups. Many in state government wished that the Vanport flood of 1948 would have caused the permanent closure of the young upstart school. It was the sheer tenacity of VEC administrators, students and community partners that convinced the Oregon Board of Higher Education to allow it to continue. Today, Portland State University is the second largest university in Oregon, is Oregon’s only urban research university and is an anchor institution in the Portland region.


How the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan was Created

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Carmen Suarez, Vice President for Global Diversity & Inclusion, appointed a Writing Team, with the approval of the Diversity Action Council (DAC), to draft a starting version of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan (DEIP). Drawing from faculty, staff and students, Dr. Suarez recruited those with experience in PSU’s Strategic Plan and the Equity Lens Panel:
Ann Curry-Stevens, Associate Professor, Social Work (Co-Chair)
Jasmin Hunter, Student, Economics Major
Ebony Oldham, Graduate Student, Education, Leadership and Policy
Stephen Percy, Dean, College of Urban and Public Affairs (Co-Chair)
CeCe Ridder, Assistant Vice President for Student Access and Success
Kevin Thomas, Graduate Student, Urban Studies
Mark Wubbold, Senior Policy Analyst, President's Office
Marisa Zapata, Assistant Professor, Urban Studies and Planning

After substantial work during the summer of 2017, the Writing Team completed its draft and submitted it in October 2017 to the Vice President for Global Diversity & Inclusion. The plan was next shared for review and comment with the President’s Executive Committee and the Academic Leadership Team chaired by the Provost. The plan was also shared with the full 80-member Diversity Action Council, representative of our university as a whole, whose role is to foster equity and social justice by reviewing PSU programs, policies, and decision making and developing recommendations to serve the best interests of our diverse constituents. Modifications were made in response to feedback received during this review process. The Diversity Action Council has approved the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan.

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