C of I Newsletter

2011. 04. 01

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Murdock Trust awards $50,000 faculty start-up grant to C of I

The College of Idaho biology department recently had its research and teaching efforts bolstered by a grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The grant provides the College with $50,000 toward a new faculty start-up research package for Dr. Luke Daniels, who has been hired as a tenure-track faculty member after two years as a visiting professor of biology.

Daniels specializes in neurobiology, a field not previously offered at C of I.

“We are honored and excited to receive this grant from the Murdock Trust,” said Sara Heggland, chair of the biology department at C of I. “Dr. Daniels will expand our research offerings at the College, and this grant will allow him to hit the ground running with his research program.”

This is the third research startup grant C of I has received from the Murdock Trust. Heggland, who wrote and submitted the grant, said the Trust awards grants based on several factors, including the efforts of both the department and the College to provide research opportunities for students.

“The Murdock Trust wants to see faculty engaged in original, publishable research with students,” Heggland said. “And it wants to see that the College is dedicated to supporting undergraduate research, which I think we have shown through our annual Student Research Conference, our student research grant program and our recent remodel of Boone Science Hall.”

Daniels is looking forward to launching his research, which will focus on how the human brain processes information from the environment through the nervous system. He said he already has several students lined up to begin working this summer.

“I’m really happy to have this job and very grateful for the grant money,” Daniels said. “It’s great to be able to start doing research with students right away. The biology department has been really supportive of our efforts to work with students on our research projects.”

The M. J. Murdock Trust was created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix, Inc., and an innovative, entrepreneurial leader in the Pacific Northwest. Since its establishment in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than $600 million in grants, focusing most of its efforts in the five states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The Trust’s mission is to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by providing grants and enrichment programs to organizations seeking to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. For more information about the M.J. Murdock Trust, visit www.murdock-trust.org.

Caldwell church funds scholarship at C of I

The historic relationship between Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church in Caldwell and The College of Idaho will be strengthened with the establishment of a new scholarship endowment.

A gift of nearly $76,500 from the church to start the Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships to students who are Presbyterians from the greater Caldwell area or church members of other denominations.

Pastor Aaron Beaty of Boone Memorial said the church has provided scholarships to C of I students for many years as a part of its mission work to equip young people in their love for God, for learning and for service by pursuing their higher education.

“We have enjoyed our relationship with The College of Idaho over the years, working and worshipping with students and teachers alike, and look forward to fostering this relationship in the future,” Beaty said. “We are grateful for the opportunities The College of Idaho provides to students of all ages to grow in faith, knowledge and service.”

Barry Fujishin, director of development at C of I, noted that Boone Memorial’s support of the College extends back to the latter’s founding by Dr. William Judson Boone, a Presbyterian minister, in 1891.

“Dr. Boone’s creation of The College of Idaho as a place to educate the head, the hands and the heart continues to guide our campus today,” Fujishin said. “We’re grateful that this gift from Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church will honor and advance this legacy by helping young men and women attend the College.”

C of I students set to study in Ireland

Two sophomores from The College of Idaho will have the opportunity to study abroad next fall thanks to C of I’s participation in the Irish American Scholars program. Ashley Barr of Boise will attend fall semester at Queen’s University Belfast, while Ellen Town of Eagle has been accepted at the University of Ulster Coleraine Campus in Northern Ireland.

Barr, a creative writing major and 2009 graduate of Centennial High School, will focus her studies on Irish literature and history. Queen's University Belfast is home to the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry.

“This is a great opportunity, and I feel quite honored to have been selected,” Barr said. “My family is originally from Ireland – on my mother's side we are very recent immigrants to the United States, and we are still very connected to our heritage. I'm especially interested in studying in Northern Ireland so that I can gain a different perspective on that heritage.”

Town, a biology major who attended Meridian Medical Arts Charter High School, will take liberal arts classes at Ulster, which does not have an extensive biology program. In place of medicine-related classes, Town hopes to volunteer and do some job shadowing at an Irish hospital.

“I would like to compare Ireland’s health system to our own since I am interested in medicine,” Town said. “I am just so excited about this opportunity. I wanted to gain a completely different cultural experience. I love it here at the College, but I am looking forward to something new.”

The Irish American Scholars program is one of the major benefits C of I receives from its membership in the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. APCU also administers the Business Education Exchange program. As part of its long-term peacemaking efforts in Northern Ireland, APCU seeks to encourage student exchange with APCU member colleges by arranging for Irish students to attend C of I and also providing opportunities for C of I students to study at universities in Ireland.

C of I sends writers to National Undergraduate Literature Conference

Six talented writers from The College of Idaho are showcasing their work on the national stage as participants in the 26th annual National Undergraduate Literature Conference. NULC, taking place this weekend at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, gives students an opportunity to present their work to peers from around the country as well as hear from some of today’s best contemporary writers.

Robyn Argyle, Ashley Barr, Nashfa Hawwa, Danny Henson, Chelsea Larsen and Erin Nelson are participating at NULC. The students were nominated by professors in the C of I English department, including Diane Raptosh, who accompanied the group to Utah.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to see how they fare on a national level,” Raptosh said. “Traditionally, our students have done extraordinarily well. They hold their own against students from anywhere.”

NULC participants have the option of submitting work in one of two categories: literary scholarship or creative writing. Hawwa submitted an academic paper, while the rest of the C of I contingent turned in creative work, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

“This is a huge opportunity to present my writing and have it critiqued by professionals,” said Argyle, who is presenting her creative nonfiction biographical piece Minestrone Soup. “Before I came to The College of Idaho, I was afraid of negative feedback about my writing, but after two years of small classroom workshops, I am excited to present my work and even more excited about the group of students going with me to NULC.”

Henson, whose fictional story Icon is based on his real-life experiences on a Campus Ministries service trip to San Francisco, said preparing his NULC submission helped him grow as a writer.

“Working independently on a project with such broad and open-ended specifications has helped me understand what it is to work as a writer outside the confines of school work,” Henson said. “When there aren't really set checkpoints – just you and the deadline – you get a glimpse of what you’re made of as a writer.”

C of I students have been participating in NULC for more than a decade, and Raptosh hopes to see that continue as an annual tradition. This year’s group paid for the trip through a student research grant, a bake sale and a fundraising dinner at Mona Lisa fondue restaurant in Nampa, where Larson works. To learn more about NULC, email Raptosh at [email protected]

Orma J. Smith Museum adds two staff members

The Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History on The College of Idaho campus recently added two scientists to its staff – Dr. Ron M. Bitner ’68 and Dr. Craig R. Baird. Both Bitner and Baird will work in entomology (the study of insects), a field in which both men have extensive experience and credentials.

Bitner joins the museum as an entomology research associate. He is an alumnus and longtime supporter of the College and the museum, and he currently serves on the C of I Board of Trustees and the Museum Board of Directors. Bitner, who holds master’s (Purdue University) and doctoral (Utah State University) degrees in entomology, is an expert on bees and pollination. He currently is working on a research grant involving the pollination of almonds in California and is interested in involving current C of I students in the project.

“Dr. Bitner has a great love for The College of Idaho and a lifetime of research interest and work in plant pollinators,” said museum director William Clark. “His work will lead to a much-improved solitary bee collection in the museum, and his research will get students involved at the museum as well as get the word out about both the College and the museum.”

Baird will serve as a curator of entomology at the museum. A retired professor from the University of Idaho, Baird holds a master’s degree in zoology from Utah State University and a doctoral degree in entomology from Washington State University. Baird is a longtime friend of the museum and member of the Idaho Entomology Group. He has experience working with bees, beetles and spiders and will assist with the curation of the museum’s extensive insect collection.

“We are thrilled to have a person of Dr. Baird's caliber as a regular museum staff member,” Clark said. “One current need in the museum is to be able to provide regular office hours for the public, and Craig’s desire to help with that is critical. His curation of insects and spiders also gives us a needed boost in those areas.”

The Orma J. Smith Museum is the only natural history museum in southwestern Idaho, southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada. Its purposes are three-fold – to support the educational programs of The College of Idaho; to provide a resource to the community; and to house resources for scientific research. The museum is open to the public when College of Idaho classes are in session, entry through main entrances to Boone Hall at first level. To arrange for group tours, call Kinga Britschgi at (208) 459-5211 or William Clark at (208) 459-5507.


Spring 2011

Upcoming Athletic Events

Spring 2011

Upcoming Alumni Events

April 2

Franklin Specht Scholarship Pasta Dinner, 6:00 p.m., Simplot Dining Hall Fireside Room. All proceeds go to the Franklin Specht Scholarship Fund

April 4

Dr. Dan Zirker lecture, 'Quasi-Democratic Government in the Pacific: From Africanization to Latin Americanization,' 4:30 p.m., Sterry Hall third-floor board room

April 8

Spring Blood Drive, 9 a.m.-1:45 p.m, McCain Student Center

April 14

Low Carbon Diet Day and environmental fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Morrison Quadrangle

April 16

Idaho History Day at C of I, Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History

Through April 29

CALENDARS art exhibition, featuring the work of Pete Grady and Dave Thomas. Open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Rosenthal Art Gallery (Blatchley Hall)

April 30

Sixth Annual C of I Student Research Conference, Langroise Center (abstract deadline is April 5)


The College of Idaho's Senbazuru fundraiser, which raised more than $1,000 for Japan tsunami relief, was featured in the Idaho Press-Tribune, on KTVB Channel 7 News and on the C of I YouTube Channel.

The Idaho State Senate honored the C of I ski and snowboard team with an official proclamation by the State Affairs Committe. 

Students from The College of Idaho education program were part of a KTVB Channel 7 News story about the impact Idaho's education reform bills could have on future teachers.

C of I English professor Diane Raptosh recently was interviewed on the Boise Community Radio program “The Writer’s Block.” Listen to the interview here.

Idaho Press-Tribune sports reporter Mike Stetson featured the red-hot C of I baseball team in his blog. Stetson also covered freshman softball phenom Nickayla Skinner's no-hitter.

C of I professor Rochelle Johnson was interviewed by the Idaho Statesman for a story about the Year of Idaho Food initiative.

The College of Idaho sustainability stewards, Katy Stewart and Allison Parrish, are raising money to build a new organic garden on campus. To donate or learn more, visit the stewards’  blog.