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In this interview with Michael O’Rourke, Mr. Lemman discusses his experiences and accomplishments from his undergraduate years at Vanport until his administrative position in Oregon higher education, and remembers faculty, students, and administrators with whom he worked to grow Portland State into an urban campus of almost thirty thousand students. Highlights include student life and media at Vanport Extension Center, the Vanport flood of 1948, urban renewal in Portland that facilitated the establishment of the campus during the 1960s and 70s, student housing, and collective bargaining with faculty and staff unions.

This interview was recorded in two sittings on September 23 and September 27, 2010. Some portions of the interview have been edited for relevance to PSU history. The unabridged recording and transcript are available through Portland State University Archives at the PSU Library. Acknowledgements and thanks to RAPS, Retirement Association of Portland State University, for biographical information on Mr. Lemman.

The abridged transcript of this interview is available for download.

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Universities and colleges -- United States


W.T. “Bill” Lemman has been affiliated with Portland State from its inception. As a Vanport Extension Center student, he had close relationships with many faculty, including VEC founder Stephen Epler. After earning his degree in Business Administration at the University of Oregon in 1949, he returned to Vanport in 1950 as Assistant Business Manager. He returned again in 1959, eventually becoming Vice President for Business and Finance for Portland State College. As the college’s chief fiscal officer, Lemman fostered partnerships with city and federal governments to develop the downtown campus and worked to bring student housing to Portland State.

Lemman left PSU in 1974 to become Vice Chancellor of the Oregon University System and served with the office for over 15 years, including acting as interim chancellor from 1987 to 1988 and interim president of Oregon Institute of Technology from 1990 to 1991. He is an emeritus member of the Alumni Board and a founding member of the Friends of the Library. In 2004, Lemman was granted an honorary doctorate from Portland State University.

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Interview with W. T.