The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is donating $2 million to the Idaho State University College of Technology capital campaign to help renovate a building on the Pocatello campus in which to consolidate some of its career technical education (CTE) programs.
The 200,000-square-foot building is the William M. and Karin A. Eames Advanced Technical Education and Innovations Complex, named after the Eames made a $2.5 million donation. The capital campaign is a five-phase project for a total of $22 million, said Kevin Satterlee, named president of ISU in April after serving most recently as chief operating officer for Boise State University.
The College of Technology consists of about 35 departments, primarily CTE programs, though it does include programs such as nursing. Seven programs, with 250 to 300 students, will move to the Eames complex, said Dean Scott Rasmussen. Phase I moved two programs, machining and computer-aided design, to the building last summer.
Consolidating the seven programs will let ISU increase enrollment by 10 percent the first year, and an additional 10 to 15 percent the next three to five years, Rasmussen said. “Programs like welding have a waiting list of students to get in, and extremely high demand for graduates, making in excess of $60,000 to $70,000 a year,” he said.
The Albertson Foundation money will be contributed to the $5 million Phase III, to house the diesel technology program. “We’ve raised almost $3 million so far,” Rasmussen said. “Their $2 million would get us really, really close.”
The Albertson Foundation was particularly interested in ISU because of its job placement rate of 90 percent and sometimes 100 percent, said Roger Quarles, executive director. “They have an ambitious goal of expanding programs we see value in: credentials, certificates, degrees, living-wage jobs – something we’re kind of passionate about,” he said. “They had a very solid plan of what they wanted to do.”
Quarles also praised ISU for its relationships with industry. “Each one of their 35 programs has an industry advisory committee that meets with the faculty on a fairly regular basis,” he said.
In addition to helping shape programming and the curriculum, such committees provide additional support with expertise on education and training, he said. “Our struggle is, how do you keep learning relevant to changes in the world,” he said. “We think they’re really good at that.”
For other funding, ISU is asking the Idaho Legislature to allow it to spend $10 million originally allocated toward renovation of a life sciences building, which had been its top capital priority, Satterlee said. “An engineering study came back and determined that, at $10 million, it was not feasible, so we stopped moving forward,” he said. Renovation of the technology college building was the second priority, he said.
Consolidating the CTE programs in the one building also gives the university the opportunity to renovate the spaces where the CTE classes had been held previously for other programs. “Right now, we teach our licensed practical nurse and registered nurse nursing programs in two different places because of space needs,” Satterlee said. “We will be able to consolidate them into a single location because of the space that gets vacated.”
The building was originally used for startup research programs and other research opportunities, but that came to a close a year or so ago when the major grants funding it came to an end and not enough startups came along, Rasmussen said.
Unlike some Idaho regions such as the Treasure Valley, where CTE programs are primarily taught in community colleges, CTE programs have always been taught at ISU, Satterlee said. “We offer a range of programs from certificates all the way through a Ph.D. and advanced medical,” he said. “We perform that true comprehensive regional university function, where a student from all of those areas can come. We’re pretty proud of that.”