Satterlee named ISU’s 13th president


The Idaho State Board of Education introduced Kevin D. Satterlee as Idaho State University’s 13th president at a Thursday news conference.

Satterlee comes to Pocatello from Boise State University where he was Chief Operating Officer, vice president and special counsel — roles he’d held since 2015.

Satterlee replaces Arthur Vailas, who announced his retirement in August. Vailas had served the school since July 2006.

Vailas’ tenure was marked by many successful initiatives such as expanding the university’s health sciences offerings across the state, but it also was marred by stagnate enrollment and a deteriorating relationship with faculty.

State Board of Education Member Richard Westerberg said the Board was looking forward to working with Satterlee to bring Idaho State University to the next level, a board news release said. He described Satterlee as a man who was born, raised and educated in Idaho, and a man with great vision.

“He’s an innovator, and he’s a great communicator,” Westerberg said in the release. “He listens to understand, and to learn, which leads to his ability to be open and transparent.”

At the introductory news conference Satterlee vowed to build upon ISU’s strengths, such as its health science and accounting programs, and improve its weaknesses.

“I resolve to move forward and work past anything that may be holding us back,” he said.

He pledged to work daily with faculty “to see that we succeed and prosper.”

A lawyer, Satterlee has 20 years’ experience in higher education, dating back to when he was assigned by the Idaho Attorney General as Chief Legal Officer to the Idaho State Board of Education in 1997. He joined BSU in 2001 as special assistant to the vice president for finance and administration, a post he held for two years. From there he advanced through the ranks, becoming vice president and general counsel in 2011.

Satterlee moved into the Chief Operating Officer role three years ago. In that position he was in charge of everything from the student union and event services to real estate development. He also served as special counsel to the president, “working closely with the general counsel’s office on all legal issues related to the governing board, legislative and policy issues, athletic department issues and contracts, as well as institutional compliance,” the BSU website said.

Satterlee graduated magna cum laude from BSU with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1990 and was named a Top Ten Scholar of the university upon graduation, the BSU website said. He earned his law degree from the University of Idaho, also magna cum laude, in 1993.

Satterlee was one of five finalists for the position, but by the time of the announcement the field had dwindled to two. Satterlee was chosen over ISU Executive Vice President and Provost Laura Woodworth-Ney, Ph.D.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Education announced that Weber State University President Charles “Chuck” Wight had withdrawn from consideration. Another finalist, Dr. Ricardo Azziz, the chief officer of academic health and hospital affairs at the State University of New York System Administration, withdrew from consideration earlier in the process. The fifth finalist, Robert Marley, Ph.D., the provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at Missouri University of Science and Technology, was eliminated from consideration.

In addressing the news conference, Satterlee promised the crowd “innovation will be our future.”

“Working together we’re going to be unstoppable,” he said.

Satterlee starts at ISU on June 18.

Information from the Idaho State Journal contributed to this report.