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C of I receives $1 million gift for Boone Hall

A gift from a Treasure Valley physician will enrich The College of Idaho’s science programs by supporting renovations that will modernize teaching facilities in Boone Science Hall.

Dr. James W. Smith, a 1964 graduate of the C of I, and his wife Mary Barbara are giving $1 million to the second phase of the Boone Science Hall renovation project. Phase II of the project will improve teaching laboratories and infrastructure in the building, supporting the College’s long-standing legacy of outstanding teaching, learning and research in the sciences.

Smith, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Boise Heart Clinic and former C of I trustee, said the gift was inspired by his experiences with C of I professors such as the late Dr. Lyle Stanford ‘33, who taught biology at the College from 1942 to 1976, and Dr. Patricia Packard ‘49, a biology professor who advised him on his senior research project on the genetic aspects of Marfan syndrome.

“Dr. Stanford did everything he could to help students reach their goals, and with his assistance many physicians in the Treasure Valley were able to achieve their goal of attending medical school,” Smith said. “The College continues to have tremendous faculty like Dr. Stanford and Dr. Packard who put their focus on students.”

Smith is gratified that C of I faculty and staff will enjoy first-rate facilities for science education thanks to the completion of the Boone Hall renovation his gift is supporting.

“The College of Idaho was a very nurturing, special place for me, and with their focus on individual students, the College continues to do a great job of mentoring and helping each student get the most out of his or her education,” Smith said. “I’m very pleased to help enhance that learning experience.”

Phase I of remodeling Boone Hall, a $7.4 million project completed in September 2010, made improvements to the building’s infrastructure, accessibility, safety and research facilities. Phase II, estimated at $2.1 million, will remodel teaching laboratories, classrooms and support areas into flexible, state-of-the-art spaces that will better support individual work, group projects, interdisciplinary and problems-based approaches, and student research.

C of I President Marv Henberg said the Smiths’ gift will benefit all students since the College’s PEAK Curriculum requires every student to earn a major or minor in the natural sciences or mathematics.

“At our 2012 commencement, 38 percent of degrees awarded to graduating College of Idaho seniors went to students majoring in either science or mathematics. That is between two and three times the national average,” Henberg said. “The Smiths’ generous contribution to Boone Science Hall will ensure a quality learning environment for this significant portion of our graduates, who will assist the U.S. in maintaining an edge in scientific and technological innovation.” 

The second floor of Boone Hall and biology seminar room will be named in honor of the Smiths, the human biology laboratory will be named in honor of Dr. Stanford, and the building’s Philo-Tech Lounge will be named in honor of Dr. Packard, who taught at the College from 1959 to 1989.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.