Fr. Jim Lies will become interim president of U.P. June 30.
Fr. Jim Lies will become interim president of U.P. June 30.
After 10 years with the University of Portland, including the last seven as its 20th president, Holy Cross Father Mark Poorman is stepping away from the presidency June 30. The U.P. Board of Regents announced that Holy Cross Father James Lies (pronounced LEASE) will serve as interim president effective July 1.

Father Poorman said his departure comes after prayer, discernment and consultation. He will take a sabbatical then hopes to return to teaching, writing, and pastoral ministry. He is a theologian and ethicist.

“I step away from this role with tremendous gratitude for all that we have accomplished as a university community,” Father Poorman said. “Thanks to God’s grace and the brilliance and dedication of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, benefactors, regents and friends, U.P. is stronger now than at any point in its 120-year history.”

Thomas Arndorfer, chair of the U.P. Board of Regents and president of Portland’s Jesuit High School, thanked Father Poorman for his service.

“Not only has he provided academic leadership but also religious guidance during difficult times,” Arndorfer said. “We wish him all the best as he plans for a return to teaching.”

The gregarious Father Lies, who was a candidate for the president’s post seven years ago, will assume the interim role after serving in the University of Notre Dame's London program for the past four years. He began his academic career at U.P. where he served on the faculty and directed the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life & American Culture, before being named vice president for mission at Stonehill College, another institution of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Easton, Massachusetts.

Father Poorman said he is committed to ensuring a smooth transition.

His academic career stretches more than 30 years, having first joined U.P. in 2011 as executive vice president. Prior to his arrival in Portland, Father Poorman served in various administrative capacities at the University of Notre Dame, including vice president for student affairs for 11 years.

During Father Poorman’s tenure, U.P. experiences some of the highest enrollments in university history and reached new heights in donor contributions and benefactions, which enabled stronger student financial aid and faculty scholarship. U.P. also invested in its physical infrastructure, including the construction of Dundon-Berchtold Hall and Lund Family Hall, as well as extensive renovations to the Pilot House, Joe Etzel Field, and the Chiles Center Plaza. The Nelson Physical Plant Building and Franz Campus expansion are currently under construction on a 35-acre plot along the banks of the Willamette River.

After almost a year of online instruction and limited campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.P.’s nearly 4,000 students began the Spring 2021 term on Jan. 25 with a hybrid of in-person and online classes. The new semester also included the return of more than 800 undergraduate students to campus residence halls.