The Idaho State Board of Education unanimously picked five people to serve as the College of Eastern Idaho’s first board of trustees.
The appointees are Mickelsen Farms chief financial officer Stephanie Mickelsen, Idaho National Laboratory public affairs manager Calvin Ozaki, Bank of Idaho board chairman Park Price, Hillcrest High School assistant principal Craig Miller and former Idaho Falls Arts Council executive director Carrie Scheid.
“I feel very honored that I was selected,” Scheid said. “We have an amazing talent pool here in Idaho Falls, and if I wasn’t picked there were 25 equally good candidates.”
The five trustees were selected from a total of 54 candidates who applied for appointment. Board members praised the large number of Bonneville County residents who applied to help guide the community college through its initial days.
“We’re replete with candidates who are well qualified for this board,” said board member Richard Westerberg.
“I think that’s a vote of confidence from the community in the college,” said board president Emma Atchley.
Rick Aman, president of Eastern Idaho Technical College, said the school will formally become the College of Eastern Idaho once the new board of trustees has its first meeting, which is expected within days.
The same day it approved the trustees, the state board gave CEI another big push forward. It gave formal approval to CEI’s first degree, an associate of arts in liberal arts.
“We’re very excited,” Aman said. “We seem to be ahead of where we hoped to be. I think there’s a very good chance that we can show that we’re responsive to the voters of Bonneville County by having some classes (that count toward an associate degree) up and running in August.”
“It’s going to be a very exciting time for us,” said Price, who led the committee created to study the merits of a community college. “I’m very pleased with the selection. It’s a very solid group of people.”
The degree will be an associate of arts in liberal arts, which will be transferable for credit at other colleges where students can advance toward a bachelor’s degree.
“I’m thrilled with it,” Price said. “We’ve already been accredited. That means the college can grant those degrees under its own authority rather than having to borrow someone else’s.”
The board members will all serve until November 2018, when the first election will be held where voters will choose the board. After the initial election, where all five board seats will come up for contest, future elections will be staggered to allow voters to elect candidates to either two- or three-year seats.
Early tasks for the board include the selection of a president (Aman plans to apply for the new post) and establishing a property tax levy to support the college.
Scheid said the board is committed to setting the property tax rate at $15 per $100,000 of taxable value, as was promised during the campaign in favor of the college.
“We can put all the misinformation that’s being passed around town to rest,” she said.
Bonneville County students will get lower tuition rates than students from outside the county.
There are initial indications that could change, however, as the Bingham County Republican Central Committee has begun the petition process to add Bingham County to the community college tax district. Doing so would require a simple majority vote on a November ballot initiative, and would mean that Bingham County residents would pay taxes to the college and get the same reduced tuition rate.
“I feel like (the community college is) something that can make a difference for the community in the long term,” Mickelsen said. “I want to be a part of that.”
Reporter Bryan Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.