Long-awaited northern Idaho education corridor starts to take shape

The site plan for the proposed "education corridor" at North Idaho College. Image courtesy of North Idaho College.
The site plan for the proposed “education corridor” at North Idaho College. Image courtesy of North Idaho College.

The seven-year quest to build a shared facility for North Idaho College, the University of Idaho, and Lewis-Clark State College has achieved a groundbreaking date and proposed opening date with the recent hiring of an architectural team.

The Idaho Division of Public Works in April selected H2A Architects of Coeur d’Alene and Integrus Architecture of Spokane to build a two-story, 30,000-square-foot structure on the NIC campus. It’s the first embodiment of a regional concept for an education corridor bringing together five institutions at one site.

Groundbreaking for the $9.7 million North Idaho Collaborative Education facility in Coeur d’Alene is expected next spring, and occupancy is slated for fall 2018, said Mark Browning, NIC’s vice president for communications and governmental relations.

The North Idaho College Foundation in 2009 bought 17 acres adjacent to the college that had been the former Stimson Lumber Co. mill to create a continuous “education corridor” between U.S. 95 and Lake Coeur d’Alene. The intention is to develop a shared campus on 12 buildable acres for satellite facilities for the University of Idaho, Lewis-Clark, Boise State University and Idaho State University and expanded space for NIC.

This consortium in 2010 envisioned a $21 million, 70,000- to 80,000-square-foot collaborative education building with a potential opening date in 2013.

“To be real honest, it was a reality check,” Browning said. “That was total pie in the sky. When we looked at it, we said, ‘We can do it at this size (30,000 square feet for $9.7 millon).'”

The North Idaho Collaborative Education facility is expected to have 16 classroom for 30 to 40 students and student services such as registration, financial aid and counseling for the three institutions. The institutions have not determined which courses will be offered in the new facility, Browning said. U of I and Lewis-Clark now have a Coeur d’Alene satellite campus in the  former Osprey Hotel building, which is owned by the city.

UI gets started on old courthouse renovation for College of Law

The Old Ada County Courthouse will see new life as the Idaho Law & Justice Learning Center. Photo courtesy of Lee Dillion.
The Old Ada County Courthouse will see new life as the Idaho Law & Justice Learning Center. Photo courtesy of Lee Dillion.

Work is expected to start this month on transforming the Old Ada County Courthouse into the new Boise home for the University of Idaho College of Law.

National Native American Construction based in Coeur d’Alene won the $3.16 million contract in mid-Dec. to remodel and restore the 1939 structure to house UI’s Boise law school, the Idaho Supreme Court Library, other Supreme Court offices, and space for civic education for the general public.

UI will call the building the Idaho Law & Justice Learning Center when the College of Law moves its Boise law school to the old courthouse for the fall 2015 semester, said Lee Dillion, the law school’s associate dean for Boise programs.

The College of Law is based in Moscow but has had a Boise program for third-year law students since 2010 in the University of Idaho Water Center on Front Street. Fall 2014 saw the start of Boise courses for second-year law students. Eventually, university  officials hope to see a full three-year UI law program in Boise.

“The initial proposal was to start a full three-year program in Boise,” Dillion said. “The state Board of Education thought we’d be better served by offering the third year first. If it turns out there is the demand and interest, we would at some point look at adding a first year. We’ll move on that at a time that it is appropriate.”

In the meantime, UI College of Law students in Boise will be among the very few in the nation to be within steps from the classroom to the state Legislature, Supreme Court and county courthouse. Historically, state capitals and universities with law schools were built in different cities – as was the case in Idaho.

Lee Dillion
Lee Dillion

“For a law student, they will be in the middle of where law is made,” Dillion said. “This is an opportunity for students to engage very early with the legislative and judicial branches and the private sector.

“If you’re bored that day for an evidentiary class, you can head to the Ada County Courthouse and watch three trials in the morning and then head to the Supreme Court and watch an appeal,” Dillion said.

Ada County abandoned the Old Courthouse in February 2002 and subsequently sold the building to the state, which used it as a temporary home for the Legislature while the Capitol was renovated in 2008-09.

UI considered using the renovations made for the Legislature but decided to do a thorough overhaul. The state budgeted $2 million to “bring the building back to a usable building,” and another $950,000 for College of Law tenant improvements, including inner walls, ceilings, carpeting and audio-visual equipment, and $89,000 for the Supreme Court, Dillion said.

The Supreme Court Library will occupy the entire second floor. The College of Law manages the court’s library, which now is at the Water Center. The Supreme Court will also have space on the smaller fourth floor for support staff.

The first floor will have two College of Law classrooms, a clinic and a student study area. The third floor will have faculty offices and two large classrooms, Dillion said.

Dillion said the Idaho Law & Justice Center will play four roles. Beyond the College of Law and Supreme Court Library, the facility will also allow the Supreme Court to expand its continuing education program for judges, clerks, staff and deputies. The college and court together will also formalize civil legal education programs for the general public, especially high school and college students, Dillion said.

“We want the law school and the Supreme Court more involved in public outreach,” he said.

Pay lags for Idaho’s college football coaches

Boise State University's football team is headed to its third Fiesta Bowl and its 20th ranking nationally far outpaces how much the university pays its coaches. Photo courtesy of Boise State University.
Boise State University’s football team is headed to its third Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31. The team is ranked 20th in the country, though its coaches are paid far less than their counterparts at other schools. Photo courtesy of Boise State University.

The pay for college football coaches at Boise State University and the University of Idaho lags far behind that for other coaches, according to newly released data.

Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin, a finalist for the Football Writers Association of America’s  coach of the year award, received a sizable $1 million salary, but that was eclipsed by the salaries of five assistant coaches at other universities, including two at Louisiana State University, according to a USA Today database.

Boise’s two top assistants, defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, each earn more than $300,000 per year, pay that trails the compensation earned by more than 180 coaches at public universities, including a linebackers coach at the University of Iowa and tight ends coach at Virginia Tech University. 

Overall, Boise State will pay its coaching staff $2.1 million this year, a step down from previous years under former head coach Chris Petersen, who received $2.1 million annually in total pay in his final year. Former Boise State assistants Pete Kwiatkowski and Chris Strausser, like Petersen, were paid more than their replacements but also received a pay bump when they moved to the University of Washington. Both assistants are now earning $100,000 more per year.

USA Today has tracked coaches’ salaries since 2009. During that time, the average pay for an assistant has risen 52 percent to $236,000.

All of the University of Idaho’s assistant coaches are paid less than the national average and less than any Boise State assistant. More than 600 coaches nationally earn more than U of I offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich’s $137,717 in total pay. U of I, which has won just one game in each of the last three seasons, also has five coaches earning under $65,000, among the lowest pay in the dataset.

University of Idaho head coach Paul Petrino’s $400,000 salary is less than that of 100 assistants.