Portland State Magazine Fall 2022

Another outreach program, the PSU Community Counseling Clinic, operated by the College of Education, reopened this fall to offer counseling sessions to the community after closing down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.The clinic provides low-cost counseling to anyone who needs it— and like the dental clinic in Vanport, a chance for PSU students to earn hours toward their training. “In order for us to really maintain that designation as an urban institution, we really need to think about the relationship between PSU and the city around it,” says Coll. “We need to be a true partner with the city to address some of the more critical aspects that we’re seeing on a daily basis: housing, affordability, homelessness, substance use and abuse, mental health.” Marisa Zapata, director of PSU’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative, would love to see the university take an even stronger lead on many of these problems. As one of the largest landholders and employers downtown, it’s impossible to talk about Portland State and downtown Portland separately, argues Zapata. “Are we an action university? Are we merely creators of research that we put out into the universe?” Zapata asks. “I would love to see Portland State taking a more active role in planning downtown, and there are a lot of faculty who wish their research would be used more to inform public policy.” Affordable housing, for example, a goal of the 1972 Downtown Plan, continues to be a vexing need today. A 2020 report from the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative showed that 44.6% of PSU students experienced housing insecurity in the 12 months prior, 16.1% experienced homelessness in the same time frame, and 47% experienced food insecurity in the 30 days prior to completing the survey. Zapata sees opportunity in those stark numbers. “How do we as an institution show that leadership? Fifty years from now, we can have created a national model for meeting students’ basic needs, supporting them, and bringing faculty Visions of the Future What does an urban university look like 50 years from now? Three PSU faculty share their vision for how the relationship between Portland and Portland State could continue to evolve into the future. Marisa Zapata Director, Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) Options for immediate impacts looking forward are clear for Zapata. Take hygiene, a need for students and the community alike. Building on research from HRAC and the Center for Public Interest Design, she suggests building an urban rest area that can meet the needs of PSU’s students, staff, and people experiencing homelessness. “We could build it and then commit the resources to keeping it operational, clean, and usable by all people. And we could build it in our Urban Plaza, where everyone can see it. That’s some real low-hanging fruit.” Jennifer Dill Director, Transportation Research and Education Center As the availability of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicle technology progresses, Dill suggests exploring opportunities to allow new sustainable tech to operate safely. Rethinking curb space, for example, could open up a whole new lane of options (pun intended). “Instead of just parking cars for two hours at a time, are there opportunities where we don’t need to park our cars because they’re autonomous? Thinking about how these different technologies in the long-term could change how we think about using road space—while still putting people first and in an equitable way—is going to be key to it all.” Jose Coll Dean, School of Social Work; Interim Dean, College of Education For Coll, embracing PSU’s role as an urban institution means working collaboratively rather than as an independent entity. One way to achieve this might be to let knowledge serve the city—literally—with dual appointments for faculty with the city and PSU. “If I have a faculty member whose area of research is on homelessness, a percentage of their [work time] will actually be with the city, so they become consultants. We have remarkable, talented faculty that have to be embedded in the metro region: within the county commission's office, the mayor's office, Oregon Health Authority, the Department of Education, etc. I think that's a remarkable way for us to truly embody and embrace our model and let knowledge serve the city.” RICHARD ENGEMAN, OREG. HIST. SOC. RESEARCH LIBR. , BA015681 26 // PORTLAND STATE MAGAZINE I II