From Capstones to Strategic Partnerships: The Evolution of Portland State University’s Community Engagement and Partnership Agenda


  • Erin Flynn Portland State University


Higher Education, Community-based Learning, Office of Strategic Partnerships


Portland State University’s (PSU) reputation as an engaged, urban-serving university continues to distinguish it both nationally and locally. Key partnerships with local, public, and private partners provide students, faculty, and staff with remarkable opportunities to contribute to the physical, social, and economic development of the Portland metropolitan region. This article traces the evolution of PSU’s engagement and partnership agenda and shares lessons learned by PSU as it seeks to better coordinate and centralize key components of its vast engagement and partnership portfolio. This reflection describes why and how PSU created an Office of Strategic Partnerships and the role of the newly formed PSU Partnership Council, and explores the challenge of striking a balance between the grassroots level of engagement and partnership activity and the need to take a larger, institution-wide view.