On March 1, President Cudd came to Vanguard’s office in the SMSU sub-basement for the end-of-term press conference. Courtesy of Sub-basement Studios.

Press conference with President Cudd

Cudd speaks on IELP cuts, Boeing and more

On March 1, Portland State Vanguard, The Pacific Sentinel, Sub-Basement Studios and KPSU held a press conference with PSU President Ann Cudd. During the conference, Cudd answered questions written by Vanguard and The Pacific Sentinel, as well as some submitted by PSU students, their families and other community members.

Diversity on campus


In a recent strategic planning meeting, it was announced that PSU is becoming a majority BIPOC serving institution. 

“I see the demographics changing in the nation and also on our campus, although I believe that our demographic is even more diverse than the city of Portland itself,” Cudd said. “As I talk to industries and other employers around, they are really eager for a diverse talent pipeline. We need to have a diverse student body in order to be a really exciting, innovative, creative group of scholars and students. So I think that’s… among the reasons it’s really important for us to become [a] more diverse campus.”

However, some students have consistently voiced concern about the university’s treatment of diverse students. 

“PSU claims that it has a very diverse student body—that it takes care of its students—but it does not,” PSU student Shams Mahmoud said. “Whether that’s with arming the cops [or] the campus security here, whether that’s Boeing, whether that’s ignoring the calls for better housing—[there are] so many different issues that PSU routinely ignores or pushes under the rug… When it comes out, it’s really ugly, because it’s been suppressed for so long, and then it’s not brought up until there’s a boiling point.”


An anonymous email received by Vanguard explained how PSU plans to shut down the Intensive English Language Program (IELP)—a program designed to help international and other non-English speaking students learn English—at the end of this year. The emailer—who said they are a PSU alum and a former employee of the IELP—said they were appalled at this shortsighted decision.

“I am very dismayed at this demonstrated lack of investment in and lack of commitment to PSU’s international student population, domestic student population, instructional staff, and its image as a globally-minded institution,” the email stated. “PSU students, faculty, and staff deserve forward-thinking leadership, not whatever austerity-minded ‘rational economics’ garbage is driving this move.”

Despite the growing diversity on campus, Cudd said that PSU’s international student population has been declining since 2015. With these numbers steadily dropping, Cudd said certain cuts were made in the interest of sustainability—including the IELP. According to the emailer, Cudd also sought to shutter a similar program at her previous institution, the University of Pittsburgh, allegedly without consulting the head of the program. 

However, in a previous Vanguard article, Cudd referenced her participation in regaining funding for this program, and that this experience gave her the knowledge on how to avoid closing similar programs. 

The closing of the IELP would also result in the termination of 12 faculty positions. This decision was originally reported in an issue of Currently—a newsletter with updates and information about the PSU workplace—to have been made in consultation with the full-time faculty union, PSU’s American Association of University Professors (PSU-AAUP). However, a newsletter published by PSU-AAUP explained that they were not consulted about this decision whatsoever. 

“President Cudd’s announcement in Currently is an affront to our Collective Bargaining Agreement and betrays shared governance processes,” the newsletter stated. “It is a display of disrespect of the Faculty Senate, and of our union, which has been a stalwart for shared governance and bargaining rights at PSU since its inception in 1978.” 

The newsletter has since been updated. “We will take the steps necessary with Faculty Senate and PSU-AAUP to act on this decision,” the updated report stated. “We are still in the process of negotiations about the exact process that will be applied.”

With only 30 students and 11 faculty members currently in the program, Cudd said the program has become unsustainable for the university. 

According to a 2021 Faculty Senate Report, plans to change or shut down the program have existed since at least 2021. 

“We value our international students greatly,” Cudd said. “They add diversity. They add… different kinds of cultural backgrounds. And it’s just great to have students from all over the world. We’ll continue to support those students. We’ll continue to embrace them and hope that they continue to come. It is unfortunate that the numbers are dropping, but that’s really not our intention.”

Cudd explained how she is working with the administration to negotiate this change and find substitutions for this necessary program, and that more solidified plans will be announced later in the term. 

In lieu of the IELP, Cudd said they will be seeking off-campus resources to support international and non-English speaking students. These students will potentially be rerouted to different colleges or programs in Portland which can offer them the same support. 

“Learning English is certainly an important thing, and we want to help support our students in that,” Cudd said. “We’re going to have to find resources off campus to help our students… who need that to access the support. But we’re very dedicated [and] committed to finding ways to help our students who need support in the English language to get it here in Portland.”


With tuition prices increasing each year, students are requesting more transparency on where their money is going. Cudd said she is endeavoring to be as transparent as possible about the allocation of funds and explained how tuition at PSU is, for the most part, lower than the other big universities in Oregon. 

Cudd explained how the Student Fee Committee “looks under the hood” of everything that is funded by student fees and set recommendations. She also said that the university has budget forums where they give as much information as the community wants about the budget. 

“We’re a state university,” Cudd said. “Our books are open. People can find where money is going. Part of the question, though, has to do with allocation, right? So not just transparency [and] knowing where it’s going, but how are the decisions made for allocating for this rather than that. And that’s what our budget forums are meant to help people weigh-in about.”

As a community, Cudd said we need to work to balance our needs regarding the allocation of funds. The strategic planning that is under way is, in part, focused on aligning the budget to make the right allocation decisions. 

“Naturally… everybody will advocate for their own needs or their own interest or their own unit,” Cudd said. “And we have to—together as a community—balance that. We’re trying to do that right now with the strategic planning going on. We’re trying to get a really broad-based consensus about that strategic plan, so that we can use that to align the budget to make these kinds of allocation decisions that determine where [and] what kinds of amenities we might have, or support systems or academic programs.”

Rearming of CPSO officers

The 2018 murder of Jason Washington—an unarmed Black man—by Campus Public Safety Office (CPSO) officers prompted the disarming of campus police. Last year, however, CPSO was quietly rearmed despite community concerns about the safety of BIPOC students and community members. 

A previous Vanguard article reported that the decision to rearm officers was made due to an increase in violence on campus, but students have said they do not believe this is a valid reason for rearming. 

“If that is true, I don’t think that that is sufficient reason to arm campus security officers or safety officers,” said PSU student Maureen Murphy in response to increased violence on campus. “I think the most important part is that they have proven that they should not be armed, because they killed someone. I grew up in a community that had a lot of gun violence, and in no way do armed police officers or security officers make me feel safer or make a situation safer.”

The article also cited a quantitative study done in 2020 by the Queer Resource Center at PSU that shows varying levels of comfortability interacting with campus officers, depending on identifying characteristics of gender.

Of the 565 students who responded, 62% of cisgender men agreed that they were comfortable talking to campus safety officers in passing, while only 42% of cisgender women agreed. Meanwhile, 75% of trans women “disagreed or strongly disagreed,” and no other gender minority had more than half of the respondents “agree or strongly agree.”

The same question posed using identifying characteristics of race illustrated a similar lack of comfortability with campus security in minority demographics. Of the 556 students who responded to this pair of questions, only 40% “agreed or strongly agreed,” 63% of whom identified as white. Of those identifying as African American/Black, Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 57% were in disagreement.

Despite these concerns, Cudd—who said she meets with CPSO Chief Willie Halliburton regularly—said she believes it is necessary for CPSO officers to be armed, since safety is an important concern on an urban campus. To increase the safety presence on campus, Cudd explained how they have added 10 student safety ambassadors and are looking to hire more. She also explained that she has been pleased to see how well CPSO has been using de-escalation techniques. 

“I think, at this point, I agree with the chief [when he says] that he feels that it’s not safe to be disarmed at this point,” Cudd said. “We have continuing conversations about this and [are] continually monitoring that balance. And also, I think that the CPSO is doing a good job of just trying to be as friendly and welcoming to our students—all of our students—as possible to try to mitigate that feeling of not being safe.”


Since 2016, students and community members have been urging the university to sever its ties with the multi-billion dollar weapons manufacturing company Boeing. Since the start of Israel’s genocide in Gaza—where Boeing-made bombs have been used to kill civilians—PSU students have ramped up their efforts to protest PSU’s ties with the company. 

Despite the outcry from students, Cudd said she has no plans for the university to cut its ties with Boeing. 

“We’ve heard the student complaint,” Cudd said. “We’ve considered it, and we are not changing our policy or our relationship with Boeing.”

According to Cudd, Boeing donated $150,000 to name a classroom in the Karl Miller Center and provided $28,000 a year for scholarships and emergency funds for students. Cudd also said that PSU has no direct investment in Boeing, but mentioned that an executive from Boeing currently sits on the advisory board for the School of Business, and hundreds of alums from both the School of Business and the Maseeh College of Engineering work for Boeing. 

Cudd referenced an example of a positive experience a student had with Boeing, explaining how an accounting student was struggling in the program and searching for a pathway to something she was passionate about. 

She explained that this student wasn’t familiar with Boeing before the career fair, but after applying for and earning an internship, she credited her incredible experience as a student with her career path and foundation for a wealth of opportunity to learn. Cudd pointed to the work Boeing has done to remove barriers for students who may not traditionally be able to accept internships outside of Portland, including paying for relocation and housing during their internship.

“Our connection is in the students who apply for internships or who are employed by Boeing,” Cudd said. “So it is all very voluntary on the part of any student who accepts an internship, a scholarship or employment from Boeing. We’ve also heard from some alumni [who now] work at Boeing and… had internships while they were students at PSU. The feedback from them is just resoundingly positive, from those students who’ve benefited from this connection.”

Cudd assured students that this connection with Boeing does not violate any PSU policies, and that the administration views Boeing as a company doing great work with us as an educational institution. 

“We’ve decided that—despite the fact that some students would prefer us not to do business with Boeing—we will continue to accept their support of our students,” Cudd said. “And any student is, of course, free to not accept that support, if they want.”

Students have consistently made arguments and spoke about how these ties directly impact them. “At this rally, we had someone talk about the U.S.-Mexico border, whose family actually was forced to migrate and nearly risked their lives coming through,” said Cody Urban, a member of the Resist U.S.-Led War Movement at a recent Cut Ties With Boeing rally. “The border fence and the entire border apparatus of the U.S. [is] funded by Boeing. They give surveillance drones. They actually give the planes that [the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)] uses to fly migrants away when they’re captured by ICE. So that’s a major point.”

Urban discussed a speaker who talked about Boeing giving attack helicopters and bombs to the Philippine government, acting out U.S. interests and killing people, as well as the hellfire missiles, bombs, planes and more which Boeing has supplied to Israel in the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

“Right now we’re looking at Palestine, because of this genocidal assault that Boeing planes are being used in,” Urban said. “But from Mexico to Palestine to Somalia, this is affecting students across the world.”  

When asked about students who may feel unsafe due to the Boeing connection, Cudd said she does not see how anyone would feel unsafe with Boeing’s presence on campus, especially since they provide scholarships and hardship funds. Instead, she said it is more of a political disagreement between Boeing and these students. 

“It does seem a little arbitrary to me to choose Boeing, but there you go,” Cudd said. “I haven’t seen any logical reason to rethink this relationship with Boeing.”

Jan. 26 protest

On Jan. 26, protesters entered the Board of Trustees meeting with megaphones chanting for PSU to cut its ties with Boeing. After board members left the meeting space and reconvened at a different location, protesters followed and continued their demonstration outside the meeting space. Protesters attempting to block board members’ vehicles from exiting the parking lot resulted in violent interactions between CPSO officers and protesters which were caught on video by Vanguard reporters. 

Cudd described this as an egregious situation, and said that CPSO officers were using the least force possible to keep people safe and prevent further violence. She explained how protesters are allowed to peacefully protest not disrupt meetings. She said they are also welcome to speak to the board, but that they have so far not been presented with an argument on why PSU should cut ties with Boeing. 

“The protesters tried to push their way onto the elevator, and at that point a police officer did have to restrain that person,” Cudd said. “That person did also have the bullhorn in their hand. They had to restrain that person from molesting the board members.”

Mira, the person in question, was quoted in a previous Vanguard article where she said she did not touch any board members or CPSO officers.

“I was thrown around multiple times just because I wanted to tell [the Board of Trustees] and so they could hear,” Mira said. “In all recordings, I did not touch a single officer initially. I was pushed around and defending myself. It is pathetic. It is shameful. [CPSO] was completely not transparent—they were manipulative. They tried to trick us where the location was and quite frankly engaged to uphold the betrayal of our first amendment rights. So if anything, that is treason. That is treachery, and it is a shame that [CPSO] allege[s] to protect students when [they] target them and harm them.”

Though students have been campaigning for divestment from Boeing since 2016, Cudd said she has heard no valid argument as to why PSU should cut its ties with the company.

“There’s been no argument,” Cudd said. “There’s been no explanation. I’ve received no argument or explanation from, for example, a student body president who has simply repeated basically what you say, which is that the students don’t want Boeing here. We’re totally in favor of free speech. We’re totally in favor of protest. We help students learn how to do protests peacefully and civilly… We’re all about inquiry and dialogue and debate. I’d love to have that. That’s not what we’re getting. We’re getting violent protests.”

Israel and Palestine

When asked why PSU has not publicly called for a ceasefire in Gaza, Cudd explained how academic institutions like PSU must stay neutral on political matters, and that she viewed calling for a ceasefire to be taking a side on a political matter. Though she said it is important that she remained politically neutral in her role as president, Cudd said she is in favor of peace.

“What we want to do is generate debate and dialogue,” Cudd said. “We want to generate inquiry and not chill speech. Any professors are free to teach about these issues [or] make statements about these issues—so are all students, faculty and staff. They have free speech in their normal lives to do that. But anybody speaking for the institution should not be taking sides on foreign policy issues or political matters that are controversial among the students and the faculty and the staff and the community.”

Several students and their family members submitted questions regarding the safety of Jewish students on campus during this conflict. Cudd explained how the Building Community Through Dialogue Task Force will help to ensure the safety and comfort of all students on campus. 

“The [task force] is meant to exactly address these issues,” Cudd said.  “We have people from all sides… on that. Community members as well. We’re hoping that helps us to see more clearly what policies we might need or what practices we might need in order to help people feel safer and prevent violations of their civil rights.”

To watch the full interview with President Cudd, visit Sub-Basement Studios on Youtube or find the direct link in PSU Vanguard’s Instagram bio.