UO secures grad program championed by Nike, panned by PSU

A Master of Science in Sports Product Management degree will be offered for students in Portland, irking PSU’s president.

Share this article!


The University of Oregon won approval Thursday to offer a program in Portland,  over objections from PSU’s president.

Portland State University president Wim Wiewel said he was not on board with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s decision to allow funding for UO to proceed with its Master of Science in Sports Product Management program, OregonLive.com reports.

“You are deciding if you are going to allow our public universities to engage in a free-for-all for the Portland geographic area,” Wiewel was quoted as saying to the commissioners in the story.

UO officials, for their part, were delighted with the board’s vote. They noted that the program has been under formation for about two years, has widespread support from companies such as Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Keen, and is expected to enhance the region’s existing reputation as the epicenter for athletic footwear, sportswear and outdoor products.

“This program creates an educational pathway to help the state retain its advantage in this important area,” Frances Bronet, acting UO senior vice president and provost, said in prepared remarks.

Wiewel accused the commission of not giving PSU a fair shot at offering courses that would aide the new program.

“PSU serves the most diverse population of students in the state and the highest number of Pell-eligible students,” he said. “Yet, we receive the least amount of state funding per graduate of any public university in Oregon,” Wiewel said. “You would compound that inequality by allowing ‘niche programs’ to be offered in Portland by our sister universities.”

Also Thursday, Wiewel oversaw a PSU Board of Trustees vote that approved a 4.23 percent tuition hike.

The university president pressured the state for more money at that meeting as well, the Portland Tribune reports.

Board members voted 10 to 2 to increase tuition and fees, which have risen less than 2 percent at PSU since 2012. The increase, combined with a proposed $4.7 million cut in PSU’s spending next academic year, is necessary to balance the budget and avoid deeper campus cuts, officials said.

PSU President Wim Wiewel said the tuition increase could be reduced if the Legislature allocates more money to universities. “If funding comes in more than the co-chairs’ (of the Joint Ways and Means Committee) budget, then we will lower the tuition increase,” Wiewel said.

A group of students gathered to rally against the cost increase, interrupting the meeting for about 30 minutes at one point.

“Students are not financial experts,” ASPSU president Eric Noll said in the PT story, “but we are experts in our financial hardships.”


Latest from Oregon Business Team