College of Eastern Idaho updates its campus

Teya Vitu//August 15, 2018

College of Eastern Idaho updates its campus

Teya Vitu//August 15, 2018

College of Eastern Idaho inherited a five-building campus from Eastern Idaho Technical College. Photo courtesy of College of Eastern Idaho.

College of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls, Idaho’s newest community college, will open its second academic year with four newly renovated spaces that provide upgraded laboratories, nursing simulation, surgical simulation and a testing center.

CEI moved onto the campus of the former Eastern Idaho Technical College when it replaced EITC last summer with  820 students. School starts August 20.

The first Idaho Falls community college to confer two-year associate degrees starts its second year with 1,500 students. Officials expect it to have as many as 2,500 students next fall, CEI President Rick Aman said.

“We can handle about 4,000 students,” Aman said of the existing campus, which was built between 1971 and 2006.

This first round of construction , costing $1.73 million, renovates portions of buildings built in 1972, 1979, 1988, 1996 and 2007 that pretty much still use the original facilities. The sinks in the chemistry lab date from 1996.

CEI has five principal buildings now with about half its 60 acres still open.

Rick Aman

“We can easily put four more buildings in here,” Aman said. “Probably in the next six months we will be looking seriously at the next building.”

He believes the next building will be a technology building but he has other facilities in mind.

“I want a high school on campus,” Aman said. “If we can get high school students on campus, they will think of themselves as college students.”

Aman noted Idaho Falls sends only 52 percent of its high school students to college.

“We bleed our millennials out of eastern Idaho,” Aman said. “They don’t stay here because they can’t go to college easily. The other thing (CEI does) is the opposite: We can bring the workforce into Idaho Falls. We want to pull a workforce out of the Wasatch Front, pull a small business out of the Wasatch Front.”

EITC was also a two-year college, but it only conferred certificates that were not transferable to universities, and EITC did not offer general education courses. Idaho Falls won Idaho Board of Education approval to create the state’s fourth community college after College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene and College of Western Idaho in Nampa.

Aman was vice president of instruction at College of Western Idaho when the Nampa institution was established in 2008. He brought that start-up college experience to Idaho Falls.

New working surfaces are being installed in the laboratories at College of Eastern Idaho. Photo by Teya Vitu.

He said he brought with him an understanding of hiring the right faculty for the institution.

“You have to hire for a cultural fit,” he said. “This faculty is not researchers. They are practitioners of teaching and learning. You don’t hire researchers at a community college.”

He added that he is also focusing on building programs that the community needs. The campus started as a tech college and, as the renovations demonstrate, a clear tech focus remains even as CEI broadens its offerings.

“We kept our roots,” Aman said.

Four renovations

CEI received $1.73 million from the William J. and Shirley A. Maeck Family Foundation to undertake the college’s first renovations of the EITC campus. The Maecks are funding expansions at the Idaho Falls Zoo and the Museum of Idaho as well as renovations Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing arts. Bill Maeck died Feb. 13.

Ann Marie Peters

CEI received an additional $200,000 from Bob and Su Robotti. Bob Robotti was a long-time business associate of Bill Maeck.

On July 1, CEI’s campus deed of ownership passed from the state to CEI. The college had to wait until that day to start its four renovation projects. CEI has built a 4,000-square-foot nursing simulation lab with four simulation hospital rooms, four control rooms managing the simulations and an observation room for students to watch the simulations. Simulations include cardiac, bleeding and childbirth.

“Students can complete half the clinical requirements right here on campus,” said Ann Marie Peters, director of strategic partnerships for the college.

The laboratory suite also is getting an overhaul with renovations of four existing labs for geology, chemistry, physics and biology.

“We anticipate half our students will use the labs,” Peters said.

All the countertops in the labs, dating from the 1990s, were replaced as were the lighting, electrical systems and lab equipment.

College of Eastern Idaho will feature a new, 42-seat testing center where students and people in the community can take tests. Photo by Teya Vitu.

A new 42-seat testing center was built into a former basement yoga/recreation center. CEI students as well as community people completing certifications and receiving job training will use the training center.

“It’s a very important addition.”  Peters said. “People were having to drive to Pocatello and Salt Lake City to take tests.”

Peters predicts the number of tests administered per month will increase from 600 to 6,000.

The renovation also brings a high-tech surgical manikin and virtual cadaver to the college’s Health Care Building.

“We have a cadaver room that was never used,” Peter said.