Monday, August 31, 2015

Portland State's $100 million donor disaster: what's next

Oregonian
August 29th, 2015


Portland State University will enter the public stage of a $300 million fundraising campaign without its top two development officers, who are resigning after falling for a phony billionaire and $100 million that never existed.
PSU Foundation president Francoise Aylmer and chief development officer Kristin Coppola were the two main contacts for John Michael Fitzpatrick, the cryptocurrency dealer who offered to donate the public university $100 million -- and later, $1.18 billion. University administrators planned a press conference to announce the deal, inviting Gov. Kate Brown and Mayor Charlie Hales, but pulled the plug at the last minute when the money never materialized.

Portland State University's 2 top fundraisers resign in wake of $100 million gift that never was

Oregonian
August 28th, 2015


The president of Portland State University's fundraising arm and the school's chief development officer are resigning after pursuing a $100 million gift from a self-described billionaire who turned out to be a recently bankrupt bitcoin dealer known for peddling grandiose schemes.
Francoise Aylmer will resign as president and chief executive officer of the PSU Foundation, effective Sept. 1, "to pursue other interests," according to a statement issued Friday. She will also relinquish her position as Portland State vice president of advancement.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Portland State's $100 million man has made and failed to keep big promises again and again

Oregonian
August 23rd, 2015


The self-styled supercomputer visionary who secretly pledged $100 million to Portland State University has been spinning grandiose tales of success to public officials, industry insiders and prospective investors for two decades.
But an analysis of public documents left in John Michael Fitzpatrick's wake, from Boardman to Washington, D.C., turns up no evidence of the wealth he promised to bequeath.
What it does show is a high-tech mirage, preceded by a string of unsuccessful forays into politics, free-speech advocacy, offshore finance, consulting, insurance and a check-cashing business.
That all should have been quickly evident to Portland State and a number of other public and private institutions hooked, at least temporarily, by Fitzpatrick's tales over the years. Yet he appears to have played them all almost perfectly, recognizing needs and promising to fulfill them.

Portland State U. Almost — Almost — Got a $100-Million Donation

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 21st, 2015


Portland State University was on the verge of securing a $100-million donation from an anonymous donor — even going so far as to plan the details of the news conference announcing the gift — but the deal didn’t go through.
College officials told The Oregonian they were still in talks with the donor but acknowledged that the donation may be dead. “Ultimately, it’s up to a donor to make a gift or not,” a university spokesman, Chris Broderick, told the newspaper in a statement.
According to the newspaper, the would-be donor is a former Portland State student, and the donation would have nearly doubled the institution’s endowment.
On Friday night, the newspaper reported that the would-be donor, John Michael Fitzpatrick, “turns out to be a tech promoter with hardly any obvious assets and a history of insolvency.” Mr. Fitzpatrick reportedly endured bankruptcies in 2011 and 2012, failed in a bid for the U.S. Senate, and became ensnared in controversy when he produced an anti child-pornography documentary that contained explicit images.
University officials were red-faced over how badly they had been duped.
“In retrospect, we should have taken more time to review Fitzpatrick’s offer,” President Wim Wiewel wrote the university’s trustees. “And we are taking a hard look at our internal procedures to ensure this is a one-time occurrence.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

Portland State researchers tapped to assess clean-up of Passaic River and Newark Bay Superfund sites

Oregonian 
August 17th, 2015

This summer Portland State University (PSU) Civil and Environmental Engineering professors David Jay and Stefan Talke embark on a multi-year study to investigate the transport of contaminants in one of the most polluted Superfund sites in the United States. The goal of the study is to identify the most effective and practical remediation strategy tailored to the site's unique environmental and human factors.
With a history that can be traced back to the beginning of the American Industrial Revolution, a significant amount of industrial pollution lies beneath the surface of Newark Bay and its tributary the 17-mile long tidal Lower Passaic River, part of the New York Harbor estuary system. The Lower Passaic River itself is estimated to contain 9.7 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated by dioxins, PCBs, pesticides, hydrocarbons, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals in. Hundreds of industrial facilities may share responsibility for the pollution, including the former Diamond Alkali Company which manufactured the defoliant "Agent Orange" onsite through the 1950s and 1960s.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

PSU trims planned tuition increase, thanks to Legislature

Oregonian
August 4th, 2015


Portland State University is taking the unusual step of reducing a planned tuition increase, saving each full-time in-state undergraduate student $90.
Tuition and fees in 2015-16 will amount to $8,034. That's up 3.1 percent from the $7,794 charged last year for a student taking 15 credits.
University officials say the increase, reduced from the planned 4.2 percent, results from the Legislature boosting funds for higher education. Portland State is the only public university in Oregon lowering its planned tuition hike, said Scott Gallagher, a PSU spokesman.