Newest Board member brings tech experience, Saudi connections

Nearly nine months after Portland State Board of Trustees Chair Rick Miller’s sudden departure, PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi announced on March 25 Ben Berry will take Miller’s place as the newest member of the university’s highest decision-making body.

Three additional Board members will be departing this year.

Berry currently serves as the executive vice president of information technology and chief information officer for the federal government’s Bonneville Power Administration. He is also the CEO and chief digital officer for AirShip Technologies Group, a company that designs drones for industrial, military and civilian defense purposes.

“In general, I’ve had a mixed background—defense, aviation, health care, state and local governments,” Berry told Lake Oswego Review in 2015.

In an email announcing the move, Shoureshi also noted Berry’s past work for the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia International Airports, connections that could prove useful as the president moves to forge partnerships in the Middle East following his two-week tour of the region last February and more recent trip to Riyadh with Cliff Allen, dean of the School of Business.

Berry will join the Board at a tumultuous time. In addition to upcoming decisions on what could be deep program cuts and steep tuition increases, the Board is also overseeing a so-called performance plan for Shoureshi, who has come under fire for questionable financial decisions and allegations of ethical and professional misconduct.

Berry did not respond to a request for comment on joining the Board and the extent of his awareness of these issues.

According to Shoureshi’s announcement, Berry’s term begins immediately.