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PSU Salutes outstanding contributors

A near-capacity crowd gathered at Hoffman Hall on Thursday night to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the future of Portland State University.

PSU Salutes is an annual event which recognizes outstanding alumni, faculty and friends for their dedication and support of both the university and the larger community.

PSU President Daniel Bernstine presented plaques to Lowell Burnett, Gretchen Kafoury, George Cabello-Castellet, Ken and Marta Thrasher, Christopher Folkestad and Mark R. Colville.

Sarah Whitney, a senior at PSU, also received recognition for her outreach work in the community. Jack Ohman, political cartoonist for The Oregonian, acted as master of ceremonies.

Bernstine sounded the keynote, when he stated the honorees were being selected not only for their impact on the students at PSU but “for their impact bearing on the greater Portland community, the nation and the world.”

Lowell Burnett, PSU class of 1964, received a plaque as an outstanding alumnus for his achievements and dedication to science as a force for good. After a long career of teaching at San Diego State University, he founded Quantum Magnetics, a firm that specializes in developing detection systems for explosives, narcotics and concealed land mines.

Burnett said PSU gave him an exceptional opportunity to do effective research.

Another outstanding alumni plaque went to Gretchen Kafoury, who graduated from Portland State in 2000 with a master’s degree in public administration. Now a faculty member, she has been both a city and county commissioner and state representative. She headed a group that promoted preservation of the Simon Benson House, among other civic leadership activities.

Kafoury gave a brief response, joking that the ceremony “worked to keep me out of the May Day parade.”

The alumni association Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award went to George Cabello-Castellet, professor of Spanish and international studies. He has been on the PSU faculty since 1975 and is especially noted for his promotion of Spanish-language film and filmmakers.

“My students have been a great inspiration to me,” he told the audience. He noted that in recent years the Spanish-speaking population in this country has increased tremendously.

“We have helped immigrants move into the mainstream through the growth of Spanish programs,” he said, adding that “the future indeed looks promising.”

Ken and Marta Thrasher received the plaque as outstanding friends of the university. Marta is a 1990 graduate. They were saluted both for their financial support and advocacy on behalf of the university.

The Thrashers created a scholarship fund in the graduate School of Education and have made significant gifts in such areas as the School of Social Work; the business administration’s food industry program; the music department’s jazz program; and the Northwest Center for Engineering, Science and Technology. Both serve active roles as advisers on the academic side, and Ken is co-chair of PSU’s first capital development campaign.

Ken spoke for the duo, emphasizing the importance of developing the next group of leaders.

“We have to change our focus toward developing both human and financial capital,” he said. “We can’t give up on our youth. Portland State is kind of a beacon of light for our community.”

He noted the diversity in the student body, with many older people coming back to school to create new careers.

The award for outstanding philanthropy went to the Maybelle Clark MacDonald Fund, represented at the ceremony by Christopher Folkestad, executive director.

The fund provided financial support to a number of programs, among them the MacDonald Opportunity Scholarship for high school graduates and the Marilyn Folkestad scholarship in the Center for Excellence in Writing.

Folkestad emphasized the MacDonald fund’s contributions to the development of creative writing, to the graduate school of social work and the Institute for Aging.

The athletic department award went to Dr. Mark R. Colville for his efforts as team physician and his exceptional commitment to student-athletes. He has been making 300 consultations a year on campus and has enlisted other physicians to make on-campus consultations.

Colville said, “There are few things more rewarding for a physician than to take care of young athletes, to return them to a functional life.”

He congratulated the training staff and coaches of the athletic department for developing what he called a state-of-the-art sports medicine program.

“The primary point is always to do what is best for the athlete,” he said.