POCATELLO — Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee argued the institution he leads has become the state’s “thought leader,” in addition to setting the standard for Gem State higher education and innovation.
Satterlee made the lofty case for ISU being uniquely positioned to better Idaho’s population and economy while speaking during a Tuesday luncheon at Clarion Inn, hosted by Gate City Rotary Club.
“ISU is in a real and fundamental way leading the way in Idaho’s higher education, and I can say that straight faced to anybody,” Satterlee said.
Satterlee pointed out that ISU offers more than 250 educational programs, which is the most of any Idaho university.
“No other university offers the breadth of programming that ISU does,” Satterlee said. “We offer the most choice for our students and give them the most options for their careers, and when employers come looking for someone to work for them, we offer the most choice to hire.”
Furthermore, ISU is among a select group of research universities included in the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education. Satterlee emphasized that the state’s only medical school, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, is located on the grounds of ISU’s Meridian campus.
“That’s in addition to our already enhanced mission in the health sciences,” Satterlee said. “That means we are producing the next level of health education professionals at every level of health education — the ones who are going to care for all of us in the state that has the lowest number of physicians per capita.”
Regarding innovation, he said ISU shares space, has joint faculty appointments and conducts joint research with the Idaho National Laboratory. He said ISU will partner with INL on research at the laboratory’s forthcoming Cybercore Integration Center, which will house a “supercomputer” and will be used for cybersecurity and infrastructure security research.
“ISU is and has a place as Idaho’s thought leader,” Satterlee said.
Satterlee also announced a concept he said is still in the “idea stage” to “create something larger than the sum of its parts” involving some of its technology programs. He’s had discussions with certain faculty leaders about the possibility of ISU’s Energy Systems Technology and Education Center, the Idaho Accelerator Center, its nuclear engineering program and its College of Business cybersecurity program forming a new cybersecurity school. The new school would potentially offer a bachelor’s degree to supplement the current technical, associates and graduate degrees offered in the field.
As a leader in Idaho education, Satterlee believes ISU fills key functions including changing lives of individuals, supporting regional economic growth and helping the nation’s government to succeed.
Satterlee’s own life is a case study in how access to higher education can transform lives. As a fourth-generation Idahoan, Satterlee said he was the first in his family to attend college. He went on to earn both a bachelor’s and graduate degree from Idaho universities, worked for the Idaho Attorney General’s Office, spent 20 years working in higher education and became ISU’s president last fall.
Satterlee described how the two decades following World War II provided evidence of the economic value of an educated populace. Common people who fought in WWII had unprecedented access to higher education, and the nation’s economy boomed, establishing the U.S. as an economic and innovation powerhouse.
Perhaps most importantly, Satterlee believes institutions such as ISU help the U.S. maintain its form of government. Satterlee told the story of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and Benjamin Franklin’s response to a crowd asking him, “What have you brought us?”
“We’ve brought you a republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin informed the masses.
Satterlee said even the Idaho Constitution acknowledges the stability of a republic depends mainly on the education of the people.
“Why do I work in education?” Satterlee asked. “It is no less important to me than the stability of the republic.”