PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – At the beginning of the school year, Portland State University will have a new president, with plans to work with the city to revitalize downtown.

Last week, the university’s board of trustees named Dr. Ann Cudd as its eleventh president, who is set to take on the role in August. She will succeed current President Stephen Percy, who announced his retirement from the university in May 2022.

“I believe that job one is to revitalize the campus, and in the process, the Portland downtown. I really want to see students and faculty fully back on campus and to recruit even more students to this incredible city,” Cudd told KOIN 6 News. “We will lead by example and will help to bring about the vibrant urban experience that we want to live in.”

As Cudd wraps up her current role as provost and senior vice chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh, she hopes to hit the ground running and “to challenge and inspire the campus with a vision of a Portland renaissance and then engage all of our stakeholders in a strategic planning process that will guide us as we work to bring that vision to life.”

Similar to the University of Pittsburgh, Cudd says PSU’s fate is also intertwined with its host city.

“I see Portland State leading the way for Portland through its education, its engaged research and workforce development as well,” Cudd said.

The incoming president said she met with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler last week and discussed his priorities to address homelessness in the city.

“The biggest challenges for Portland today are homelessness and the perception that the city is not safe, which has led to people avoiding downtown,” Cudd said.

She added, “I heard from him that addressing homelessness and making sure people receive the services that they need to live secure lives is really his top priority. And we agreed that the Portland State University faculty and students can help meet the need for creative solutions and service in the community.”

Cudd highlighted PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs which she says can help redefine the city amid changes to the city’s government structure, like the city charter reform.

“We can convene city-dwellers, urban planning experts and government officials to create new solutions to really what are new problems that the city faces. We also teach an incredibly diverse student body who will add talent and creativity to the future Portland workforce.”