Portland State leadership is costly

The ‘one percenters’ in America are those who possess most of the wealth and power. They have the financial means for their daughters and sons to attend a college or university of their choice. Of course other Americans with children who recognize the importance of continuing education after high school, can establish a savings plan for this purpose. Far too many, though, do not do that. Otherwise, youth who complete high school and attend a college or university will face some, often decidedly, consumer-crippling debt.

Escaping public damnation was the brief, turbulent reign of the immediate former president of Portland State University. In addition to flying around the world at public expense to site problematic satellite campuses meet far-flung alumni and destroy public documents he received a $9,200-a-month housing stipend, a $1,000-a-month transportation allowance and a salary with bonuses and perks exceeding $800,000 per year. And he demanded more. When his financial shenanigans, misleading statements, and inability to work effectively with almost everyone at PSU finally reached critical mass, the trustees fired him. Threatening a law suit, he departed quietly after guaranteed a severance package costing $875,000.

Since June, Stephen Percy serves as PSU’s interim president. Before the trustees appointed Percy to the head job, he was dean of PSU’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. Conditions at PSU under the former president had been upsettingly difficult, so the trustees plucked Percy from his old job because he was perceived to possess healing talents. The kind of nonsense that rubs this writer raw arrives (twice in one year) complements of PSU where Percy, untested, inexperienced as a university president will now have his former dean’s (one step below president) salary doubled to an annual $425,000.

The price tags for PSU leadership are excessively high—as they are at all Oregon’s public universities—while the work load for these school leaders is without transparency while graspingly explained as needed “to keep good people.” The increased costs in paying excessive salaries, perks, stipends and allowances are too often followed by paying-off these “leaders” who make poor judgement calls and ignore ethical standards, among other deficiencies, while the money comes from higher tuitions, other college fees and taxpayers. The consequence precludes too many Oregon youth from getting training and education requisite to jobs and careers. Meanwhile, Oregon’s public institution’s boards of trustees who are treated for meetings and other campus involvements like potentates—at student and public expense—appear unmoved and indifferent to stratospherically, ever-higher college costs on the backs of students and taxpayers.

Since the leadership in these institutions regularly come from out-of-state, they’re often here long enough to make a move up or retire and return to their “homeland” of origin. Oregon students at every public institution of post-secondary education should be outraged enough to organize into boycotts, strikes, walk-outs, whatever’s legal and not violent (Think Mahatma Gandhi), using their as-yet untapped clout to win reforms from the gross financial abuses now used to make college leaders wealthy at Oregon’s expense while tens of thousands of Oregon youth are denied the training and education they need to succeed at life in Oregon or anywhere in America.

(Gene H. McIntyre shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.)