PSU President Wim Wiewel launches new initiative to help more Latino students succeed
Author: Suzanne Pardington, University Communications
Posted: October 4, 2010


PSU Student Letisia Ayala speaks at a press conference announcing the new "Exito" Latino student success program

PSU senior Letisia Ayala speaks at a press conference announcing a new initiative to support Latino students at PSU.


Oct. 4, 2010 — President Wim Wiewel launched today a new initiative to recruit, support, and graduate more Latino students, who make up the most underrepresented group at Portland State University relative to their growing population in Oregon. The program is called “¡Éxito!” or “success” in Spanish.

The president commissioned a campus task force last year that recommended steps to bring more Latino students to campus and provide more support to help them graduate. The recommendations include financial support, a new Casa Latina center, a target to double the number of Latino faculty and staff, and new recruitment and advising programs.

Latinos make up 20 percent of students in Oregon’s public schools, and they are the fastest growing population in Oregon. At PSU, just 5 percent (1,236) of students are Latino. 

“It’s always been Portland State University’s job to serve the community, and this is now a very important part of this community that we have not been paying enough attention to,” Wiewel said. “It is in all of our interest to make sure all of our community gets well educated.”

Joining Wiewel today at press conference announcing the new program were Portland Mayor Sam Adams; Perla Rodriguez, principal of Cornelius Elementary School; and Letisia Ayala, a PSU senior.

“This program is cutting edge, and it is exactly what we need right now,” Adams said. “Right now we are failing whole swaths of our citizenry, whole swaths of our youth, and no where is it more disturbing than in the Latino community.” 

Here’s what PSU is doing this school year to boost Latino student enrollment and help them succeed on campus and after graduation:

Opening a new Latino cultural center called “La Casa Latina” in Smith Memorial Student Union to provide support to Latino students. 

Committing $350,000, allocating $250,000 yearly from University funding and $100,000 from the PSU Foundation.

Doubling the number of Latino faculty, advisers and administrators over the next five years.

Enhancing recruitment and advising programs for Latino students, guided by a new bilingual admissions counselor and a new bilingual adviser. Outreach to students and their families will start as early as middle school.  

Offering a bilingual family orientation.

Working with the Alumni Association and Career Center to offer more internships, mentors, graduate school workshops, and post-graduation support to Latino students. 

The full report is available at:


PSU President Wim WPortland Mayor Sam Adams joins PSU President Wim Wiewel at press conference announcing the new "Exito" Latino student success initiative

From left: Perla Rodriguez, principal of Cornelius Elementary School; Portland Mayor Sam Adams; Letisia Ayala, a senior at PSU; Carlos Crespo, professor and director of PSU's School of Community Health; and PSU President Wim Wiewel at a press conference announcing the new Latino student success initiative.