When lawmakers convene in Salem in mid-September for their quarterly house-keeping session, one of the tasks on the agenda will be to consider Gov. John Kitzhaber's latest round of appointments to various boards and commissions.

The Senate will consider a three-page list of names, and for the first time after the passage of Kitzhaber's education reforms, will get a chance to approve independent boards for the state's three largest universities: Portland State University, the University of Oregon and Oregon State. 

Each of the three universities has 14 board nominees and perhaps none is as potentially useful as Tom Imeson, the Port of Portland's government affairs director, whom Kitzhaber has nominated for the PSU board.

Other nominees—such as investor Peter Stott, a longtime PSU benefactor, are wealthier, as is Connie Ballmer, the wife of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who's joining the U of O board—but Imeson may be the best-connected man in Oregon government.

A former top aide to the late U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), chief of staff to former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt and transition director for Govs. Ted Kulongoski and Kitzhaber, Imeson is the consummate insider.

His appointment is a plum for PSU, which lacks the institutional heft and political connections of the two downstate universities.