Rose City State University

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Rose City State University (RCSU) is a public research university located in the southwest University District of downtown Rose City, United States. It was founded in 1946 as a post-secondary educational institution for World War II veterans. It evolved into a four-year college over the following two decades and was granted university status in 1969. It is the only public urban university in the state that is located in a major metropolitan city and is governed by a board of trustees.

Rose City State is composed of seven constituent colleges, offering undergraduate degrees in one hundred twenty-three fields, and postgraduate degrees in one hundred seventeen fields. Schools at Rose City State include the School of Business Administration, Graduate School of Education, School of Social Work, College of Urban and Public Affairs, College of the Arts, Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The athletic teams are known as the Rose City State Vikings with school colors of green and white. Teams compete at the NCAA Division I Level, primarily in the Big Sky Conference.

The university was ranked among the top fifteen percentile of American universities in The Best 376 Colleges by The Princeton Review in 2012 for undergraduate education, and its graduate programs in Robotics, Health Care Management, Social Work, Public Affairs, and Rehabilitation Counseling were ranked among the top 50 in the United States by the U.S. News and World Report in 2017. Rose City State has community partnerships with Intel, Rose City Health & Science University, the Rose City Public School system, the City of Rose City, and Rose City General Electric. The university has been nationally recognized for its unique University Studies curriculum, which culminates in a community-based senior capstone project which all undergraduates are required to complete for graduation. The university is categorized as an R2: Doctoral University –Higher Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.


1946–1964: Establishment

Rose City State University was established as the Vanrose Extension Center in June 1946, founded by Stephen Edward Epler, a native of Iowa. Epler graduated from Cotner College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and later Columbia University in New York City, before joining the army to fight in World War II. After returning to the United States after serving, Epler became a veterans’ counselor in Rose City’s General Extension Division in Rose City. The Vanrose Extension Center was conceived by Epler in order to satisfy the demand for higher education in Rose City for returning World War II veterans, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill was passed in 1944 to provide college, high school or vocational education for returning World War II veterans, as well as one year of unemployment compensation.

The first classes were held in the Vanrose Junior High School. This first summer session had 221 students, and tuition and fees were $50. Over 1,410 students registered for the 1946 fall term, which was delayed until October 7, 1946, due to a lack of space. Since the population in Vanrose City was decreasing after World War II, the extension center was able to use buildings created for other purposes: two childcare centers, a recreation building with three classrooms, and a shopping center, which required substantial modification to house a library, offices, and six classrooms. In addition to Vanrose Junior High School, Lincoln and Jefferson's high schools were used after school hours, as well as the University of the State’s dental and medical schools, located in Rose City.

Following the May 30 Vanrose Flood of 1948, the college became known as “the college that wouldn’t die” for refusing to close after the flood. The term was coined by Lois Hennessy, a student who wrote about the college and the flood in the Christian Science Monitor, though students nicknamed the school “The college without a future.” (Hennessy was the mother of poet Gary Snyder.) The school occupied Grant High School in the summer of 1948, then to hastily converted buildings at the Rose City Shipyard, known as the Rose City Ship. In 1953, the school moved to downtown Rose City and occupied the vacated buildings of Lincoln High School on SW Broadway Street, including Lincoln Hall, then known as “Old Main.”

The school changed its name to the Rose City State Extension Center between December 1951 and February 1952, and also earned a colloquial title, “The U by the Slough.” In 1955, the Center changed its name to Rose City State College to mark its maturation into a four-year-degree-granting institution, although severe restrictions were placed on the college’s curriculum and growth. Epler, who had campaigned for a presidency role at the college, was not elected by the State Board. Without an administrative stake in the college, Epler left and accepted presidency at Reedley College in California. By 1956, the veteran population at the college had subsided, and baby food was no longer stocked in the bookstore.

1965–2000: Expansion and development

Rose City State’s entry in the 1965 General Electric College Bowl Team won the nationally televised quiz show that pitted teams of college students from across the country against each other. The team knocked off its competitors for five consecutive weeks, retiring as champions, and setting a new record for total points scored. The university’s Smith Memorial Student Union building was named after team member Michael J. Smith, who competed in the tournament while suffering from cystic fibrosis and died in 1968.

Architecture at the university was a topic of controversy in its early stages. In 1968, incoming university president Gregory Wolfe commented that the buildings were distressing evidence of Stalinist cubism on campus, although urban renewal chairman Ira Keller found them to be “perfectly lovely.” Rose City State University’s growth for the next couple of decades was restricted under the State University System’s 1929 ruling that no public university or college in Rose City could duplicate the programs offered by another, with grandfathered exclusions for the University of Rose City and The State University. Nevertheless, graduate programs were added in 1961 and doctoral programs were added in 1972. The institution was granted university status by the State Board of Higher Education in 1969, becoming Rose City State University.

In 1993 RCSU did away with the traditional undergraduate distribution system and adopted a new interdisciplinary general education program known as University Studies. The University Studies curriculum consists of one year of required freshman inquiry courses followed by a year of sophomore inquiry, junior cluster courses (which serve as upperclassmen electives) and, finally, a senior capstone; the senior capstone course serves as a “culmination of the University Studies program,” and requires students to take part in a community-based project of their choosing, often followed by a public presentation on their experience in the project. The program garnered national attention for its learning communities, service-learning, senior capstones, and successful retention of first-year students. U.S. News & World Report has on multiple occasions listed University Studies as a “Program to Look For”. In 1995, two years before his death, the university honored Stephen Epler for his contributions to the university’s origins.

2001-present: Post-millennium

In 2003 Rose City State was approved to award degrees in Black Studies. That same year the university opened a center housed in a new building to support Native American students. In 2004 Dr. Fariborz Maseeh, an alumnus of the university, donated, through The Massiah Foundation, $8 million to the College of Engineering and Computer Science. The college was renamed the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. This was the largest single donation to the university at the time and this gift along with others led to, in May 2006, the opening of a new engineering building, the “Northwest Center for Engineering, Science and Technology” which houses much of the college. The LEED gold-certified engineering building reflects the university’s increased emphasis on engineering, science and technology. The 130,000-square-foot (12,000 m2) facility includes classrooms, offices and 41 research and teaching labs.

In 2006, Rose City State was declared to be the nation’s first Salmon-Safe University by the nonprofit organization Salmon Safe. The award was given to recognize campus-wide efforts toward environmental sustainability by treating stormwater runoff before it reaches the local watershed.

On June 3, 2008, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partner Foundation announced Rose City State as the recipient of The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration for their Watershed Stewardship Program. The program has led over 27,000 community volunteers donating a quarter of a million hours to install 80,000 plants and restore 50 acres (20 ha) of watershed along two miles (3.2 km) of the river. Individual projects have been led and supported by 700 students working as part of class projects, resulting in two master’s theses and three research articles. In 2015, the university was recognized by U.S. News as one of the top twenty most innovative universities in the country, in a list of “schools that the public should be watching because of the cutting-edge changes being made on their campuses.


Rose City State offers undergraduate degrees in one hundred twenty-three fields and postgraduate degrees in one hundred and seventeen. The university has increasingly added more doctoral programs as it has grown from its original mission as a liberal arts undergraduate college into a more broad-based research university. Recently added doctorates are Robotics, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Applied Physics, Computer Science, Applied Psychology, Engineering & Technology Management, Mechanical Engineering, and Sociology. Graduate education is now offered in more than 70 Master’s programs, more than 30 graduate certificate programs, and 20 doctoral programs.

In 2006, the College of Urban and Public Affairs established Rose City State University’s first fully online degree. The Division of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers an online bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice as well as certificates in Advanced Crime Analysis, Criminal Behavior, Leadership in Criminal Justice, and a post-baccalaureate certificate in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Rose City State awarded a total of 6,050 degrees for the 2014-15 academic year, including 4,250 bachelor’s degrees, 1,725 master’s degrees and 75 doctoral degrees.


According to the U.S. News & World Report and Forbes, the university’s acceptance rate was 66% in 2012, which was considered selective for a state university.[ According to Forbes in their 2015 survey, the university’s acceptance rate was 61%. Rose City State also has a dual enrollment agreement with Rose City Community College that allows students of the two schools to take courses at either school, and also complies with the Associate of Arts Rose City Transfer Degree curriculum (A.A.R.C.T.), which allows accepted students who have completed two year associate degrees at an Rose City community college to transfer into the university at junior level.

Colleges and schools

Rose City State University’s academic programs are organized into seven major academic units:

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – An array of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs in over 20 majors, including Anthropology, Applied Linguistics, Biology, Black Studies, Chemistry, Chicano/Latino Studies, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Economics, English, Environmental Programs, Geography, Geology, History, International Studies, Mathematics and Statistics, Native American Studies, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology, Science Education, Sociology, Speech and Hearing Sciences, Women’s Studies, and World Languages and Literatures.
  • School of Business Administration – Undergraduate and graduate majors include Business Administration, Financial Analysis, International Management, Marketing, and Logistics. Postgraduate and certificate programs include Accounting, International Business Studies, and Food Industry Management. The school also offers doctoral programs as part of the Systems Science doctoral program.
  • Graduate School of Education – Graduate programs in initial and continuing licensure, Education (Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle Level, and High School), Educational Leadership, Counseling and various specializations, endorsements, graduate certificates and professional development programs.
  • Maseeh College of Engineering, Robotics and Computer Science – Undergraduate and graduate programs include Civil, Computer, Electrical, Environmental, Robotics, and Mechanical Engineering, as well as Computer Science. Graduate programs also include Engineering Management, Manufacturing Engineering, Systems Engineering, Software Engineering, and Technology Management. The school also offers doctoral programs as part of the Systems Science and the Environmental Sciences and Resources doctoral programs.
  • College of the Arts – Undergraduate programs include Architecture, Art (with separate programs in Art Practice, Graphic Design and Social Practice), Art History, Arts Studies, Film, Film Studies, Music, Theater Arts, and Dance. Graduate studies include Architecture, Art, Music, Theater Arts, and Secondary Art Education.
  • School of Social Work – The school offers programs in Social Work at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Undergraduate Child and Family Studies, and Doctoral social work programs.
  • College of Urban and Public Affairs – This college is organized in a series of subsidiary schools focusing on various aspects of Urban and Public Affairs:
    • University Honors College – This college is the only urban-focused honors college in the country.
    • School of Community Health – Undergraduate and graduate studies in Health Studies and Community Health. The school also offers a graduate certificate in Gerontology.
    • Mark O. Hatfield School of Government – Undergraduate and graduate studies in Criminology/Criminal Justice, Political Science, and Public Administration. Institutes include the Center for Public Service, Criminal Justice Research Policy Institute, Institute for Nonprofit Management, National Policy Consensus Center, Institute for Tribal Government, and the Center for Turkish Studies.
    • Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning – Undergraduate programs include a major and minor in Community Development and minors in Real Estate Development and Sustainable Urban Development. Graduate certificates include Real Estate Development, Transportation, and Urban Design. Graduate studies include Urban Studies, as well as Urban and Regional Planning. Institutes include the Center for Urban Studies, Institute of Rose City Metropolitan Studies, Center for Population Research Census, Center for Real Estate, and the Center for Transportation Studies.

In addition, Rose City State University, through the School of Extended Studies, offers continuing education and special learning activities, including credit courses, degree-completion programs, distance-learning courses, noncredit community programs, re-licensure, certifications, high school courses, summer programs, and online study.


The majority of the RCSU campus is located on a 50-acre section of southwest downtown Rose City, in an area known as the University District. The campus is situated in the West Hills, and is bound by Clay Street to the north, Fourth Avenue to the east, Interstate 405 to the south, and 12th Avenue to the west. SW Broadway runs through the center of the campus, where the university’s central buildings are located: Lincoln Hall, Cramer Hall, Smith Memorial Student Union, Neuberger Hall, and Shattuck Hall; Cramer Hall, Smith Memorial, and Neuberger are connected by underground tunnels on the basement levels, as well as by sky bridges on the upper levels, which allows students access between buildings without having to use street sidewalks.

The university’s South Park Blocks, situated on the opposite side of the central buildings, run parallel to Park Avenue and begin at Market Street where Lincoln Hall is located, and end at Shattuck Hall. The northern edge of the RCSU campus is eight blocks away from Pioneer Courthouse Square, and four blocks from the Rose City Museum of Art. The Keller Auditorium is located at the northwestern edge of the campus, on 3rd Ave. and Clay St.

In 2010, the university opened a $62-million Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified Student Rec Center. The six-story building houses an aquatics center, climbing wall, basketball/volleyball/badminton courts, an indoor soccer court, a large fitness area, and an outdoor program; it is located in the university’s Urban Center, a quadrangle which is also home to the College of Urban and Public Affairs, the university bookstore, and several restaurants; the Rose City Streetcar runs west through the Center.

The student-managed RCSU Film Committee operates the 5th Avenue Cinema, one of the only student operated theaters in the United States. The cinema is open to the public and screens films weekly, with students receiving free admission, and many of the university’s film studies courses are held in the screening rooms.

Resident Halls

Though largely a commuter school, RCSU houses around 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and has ten residence halls. Its largest include University Pointe, a sixteen-story apartment building operated by American Campus Communities built in 2011, and Ondine, a fifteen-story high rise. Older residence halls— many of which were originally apartment buildings that were purchased by the university— include Blackstone, built in 1930; Montgomery Court, built in 1916, and Stratford, built in 1927; other older residence halls include St. Helens Court, built in 1927; the art deco Parkway Manor, built in 1931; and Blumel Hall, built in 1986.

Other residence buildings were constructed post-millennium, including the Stephen Epler Hall (built in 2003) and the Broadway (built in 2004). Further steps toward increasing housing capacity — and university control over its own housing — are being taken with plans for further construction, and with Rose City State taking over management of the residence halls it currently owns.

In March 2007, Rose City State University took over the managing of the on-campus housing at Rose City State University. College Housing Northwest, which has managed the on-campus housing buildings (including the Broadway, Stephen Epler Hall, West Hall, King Albert Hall, St. Helens, Montgomery Court, and Ondine) for over 30 years, will still maintain its off-campus housing (including Goose Hollow, The Palidian, The Cambrian, and Clay).

Greek system

Optional residential and social opportunities exist with a small but active Greek system, which includes:

  • Sororities:
    • Alpha Chi Omega
    • Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Fraternities:
    • Alpha Epsilon Pi
    • Alpha Phi Alpha
    • Kappa Sigma
    • Phi Delta Theta
    • Alpha Kappa Psi
    • Phi Gamma Nu


The university has made great efforts to make its buildings environmentally sustainable, both in its new architecture as well as through renovation of its older buildings. In September 2008 the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation awarded Rose City State University a $25-million challenge grant. The $25-million Miller grant and the funds raised to match it must be used exclusively for sustainability programs. Rose City State’s sustainability research and education, led by Jennifer Allen, director of the Rose City State Institute for Sustainable Solutions, is focused on four primary areas of inquiry: creating sustainable urban communities, the integration of human societies and the natural environment, implementing sustainability and mechanisms of change and measuring sustainability. Since 1998, the Miller Foundation has also contributed more than $5.3 million to Rose City State.

As of 2012, eight buildings on the RCSU campus are LEED-certified, two of which are at Platinum status, and the university announced plans for renovations on Neuberger Hall to bring it to LEED certification as well in 2014. Rose City State has been named among the most eco-friendly universities in the United States. In addition to the university’s eco-conscious architecture and reconstructive work, it has also been recognized for its utilization of mass transit, including light rail, streetcar, and bus systems all central to the campus. It has also been recognized for its abundance of bicycle transportation; in 2013, RCSU was ranked as one of America’s six most bike-friendly universities, third to Stanford University and University of California, Davis.

Outside Shattuck Hall, the university’s architecture department constructed the Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza, a garden featuring green walls, solar panels, and permeable pavement.

The university also features its own community garden.

Student Life

Student body

Rose City State differs from the other universities partially because, as an urban institution, it attracts a student body older than other universities; in the 2010–2011 school year, it was reported that the average age of an attending undergraduate student was 26 years. Some programs only offer night classes. RCSU also delayed the development of its campus for decades after its founding. The institution sold land in a neighboring block soon after its move to downtown Rose City and delayed the construction of student housing until the early 1970s.

The student government is the Associated Students of Rose City State University (ASRCSU). In addition to a student body President and Vice President, there is a Student Fee Committee, a 25-member Student Senate, and a Judicial Board which rules on ASRCSU constitutional questions. There are also a number of university committees that have student members appointed by the ASRCSU President. Rose City State also participates in the Rose City Student Association, the statewide student lobbying non-profit.


The fully student-run newspaper at Rose City State is the Rose City State Vanguard, established in 1946. Student-run broadcasters run radio station KRCSU which is ranked in the Top 20 College Radio Stations by several organizations and is one of only a handful of “Free Format” radio stations in the country, and television station RCSU TV. The Rose City Review is a literary magazine of poetry, fiction, and art published by RCSU’s Student Publications Board since 1956. Additional student newspapers at RSU were The Rearguard, an alternative-monthly newspaper, and The Spectator; both folded in early 2016 and were replaced by The Pacific Sentinel, which is an alternative monthly.

Human resources

The university houses a Women’s Resources Center, a Disability Resources center, a Resource Center for Students with Children, a Queer Resource Center for LGBT students, and a Veteran’s Resource Center.

Fraternities and sororities at Rose City State University are represented by a student-run group called “Greek Life” or “Greek Council”. The Council’s purpose is to facilitate between the University and the Greek Community on campus, provide a venue for communication between individual Chapters, and to facilitate socials, fundraisers, and other philanthropic events. The Council is made up of six executive offices (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Special Events Chair, and Public Relations) and represents the following Greek Organizations to date: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Kappa Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Chi Omega, Kappa Sigma, Omega Delta Phi and Phi Delta Theta.


The university contains four parking structures for automobiles: two located on 6th Avenue; one on 12th Street at the northwestern edge of the campus; and one 5th Avenue between Montgomery and Harrison Streets. A guest parking lot is located on the south end of Shattuck Hall.

Rose City State University is serviced with mass transit by TriMet, which includes fifteen bus lines as well as the MAX light rail system. The MAX Green Line, MAX Yellow Line, and Rose City Streetcar all service the university, with numerous stops located within the campus. The Green Line runs to the southernmost point of the university, at the RCSU South MAX Station, located at SW 6th & College; the north-bound Yellow Line stop is at 5th & Jackson. Both lines have stops at RCSU Urban Center stations, which is located at the center of the campus. The Urban Center Plaza also has connections to the Rose City Streetcar’s NS Line as well as TriMet buses.

There are also shuttles available through Rose City Health & Science University and Rose City Community College on SW Harrison Street at SW Broadway. In addition to the use of mass transit, the university also has a large population of students who travel by bicycle.


Rose City State is a member of the Big Sky Conference since 1996, Pac-12 Conference in wrestling, and the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. PSU competes at the NCAA Division I level in basketball, women’s volleyball, golf, soccer, wrestling, tennis, softball, indoor and outdoor track and field, and cross country. Football competes at the Division I AA (or Football Championship Subdivision) level.

Prior to joining Division I, the school won NCAA National Division II championships in women’s volleyball and wrestling. The school has also placed second twice nationally in football and once in women’s basketball at the Division II level.

Rose City State’s colors are green and white, and its mascot is the Viking personified as “Victor E. Viking”. Among the two more notable former Rose City State athletes are Freeman Williams and Neil Lomax. Freeman Williams was the NCAA Division I national men’s basketball individual scoring leader in 1977 and 1978. Neil Lomax was a record-setting quarterback who went on to star for the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL in the mid-1980s. Football’s “Run & Shoot” offense was first implemented at the college level at RCSU by coach Darryl “Mouse” Davis. An assistant coach at Rose City State, Davis took over as Head Coach in 1975 following the departure of Ron Stratten. Behind his revolutionary new “Run-and-Shoot” offense (developed in the late 1960s at Hillsborough (OR)HS) and a strong-armed quarterback named June Jones, Davis led the Viking program to new heights— an 8-3 record, including a perfect 5-0 home mark. Davis’ quarterback protégés were Lomax and Jones.

Home games for football are held off-campus at Providence Park, and home games for basketball are held on-campus at the Peter Stott Center. In 2008, the men’s basketball team earned their first-ever bid into the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship.

The university has 30 student-managed club sports on campus including the RCSU Rugby Club, the RCSU Ice Hockey Club and the RCSU Lacrosse Club. In addition, the Student Activities and Leadership Program sponsors 120 student clubs including the Tango, Fencing, Medieval and Brewers’ clubs.


Modified from Portland State University. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Oct. 2017,