Portland State University’s Board of Trustees has decided on the school’s next leader.
The board voted unanimously at a meeting Friday to name Ann Cudd as PSU’s new president, following contract negotiations that began late last month.
Cudd is Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh. She will start her new role at Portland State, Oregon’s largest urban university, in August.
“We’re going to continue and build on the legacy of Portland State as a producer of knowledge that serves the beautiful, progressive, creative city of Portland, and through it the state, the nation and the world,” Cudd said Friday.
Cudd will be succeeding current PSU President Stephen Percy who announced his retirement last year.
“Dr. Ann Cudd stood out to the Board of Trustees for her commitments to academic excellence, community engagement, the importance of equity and inclusion, and her deeply held belief in the powerful role that an urban-serving university can play in our region,” PSU Board Chair Greg Hinckley, who was not present at Friday’s meeting, said in a statement. “I am confident she is the leader who will carry the Portland State torch into the future, lighting the way for Portland’s renaissance.”
According to the university, Cudd will be the second woman to serve as president in PSU’s 76-year history.
Cudd mentioned two big priorities for her presidency — revitalizing PSU’s downtown campus and getting enrollment numbers back up. That latter priority is top of mind for many at PSU, as the institution has seen one of the most dramatic drops in enrollment since the start of the pandemic out of public universities in the state.
“PSU’s enrollments have declined over the past decade, and markedly since the pandemic, to a point where we are no longer able to fully sustain many of the creative and innovative programs that have made our institution a national model for urban education and research,” Cudd said. “But Portland is a great city, and Portland State University shines a strong beacon. I firmly believe that we can overcome these challenges and together ignite a renaissance for Portland and Portland State.”
At Friday’s board meeting, Cudd spoke to the desire for a collaborative relationship with the entire PSU community, as well as the city.
PSU’s faculty union, the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said in a statement it looks forward to being part of that.
“PSU-AAUP wants to work collaboratively with Dr. Cudd to build a bright future for PSU,” Union President Emily Ford wrote in the statement. “We strongly believe that a course correction will result in a strong university that is well positioned to serve our students and our communities.”
According to PSU, Cudd’s current contract runs through July, 2028.
Cudd is part of a wave of presidential changes in Oregon higher education. University of Oregon has had an interim president in place, Patrick Phillips, since last year. Phillips took over for Michael Schill, who left for Northwestern University, after leading the university since 2015. Oregon State University is in its first year under new president, Jayathi Murthy, who took over as president last year. Western Oregon University also gained a new president, Jesse Peters last year.