C of I Newsletter

2013. 01. 04

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C of I reaches $2.2 million goal for Judaic studies chair

Howard Berger

The C of I chair in Judaic studies fulfills the dream of history professor Dr. Howard Berger.

The College of Idaho will fill a new, fully endowed chair in Judaic studies – the first of its kind in the Intermountain West – thanks to the successful completion of a $2.2 million fundraising initiative.

A $400,000 gift from alumnus Ray Neilsen (’88) pushed the initiative to its fundraising goal, setting the stage for the new chair and an associated lecture series to promote greater understanding of Jewish traditions, culture and philosophy in Idaho and the West. The endowed chair will be named the Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies in honor of Neilsen and the longtime C of I history professor who was an influential mentor to him.

“The Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies will further strengthen The College of Idaho’s commitment to outstanding teaching,” said C of I President Marv Henberg. “Through the teaching and other work of this chair, future generations of C of I students and the public at large will gain a deeper understanding of diversity, human rights and interfaith awareness. These are critical issues facing our region and all societies in the 21st century.”

In addition to Neilsen’s most recent gift, the College also received a combined $350,000 gift from Neilsen and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation in January 2012. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a $500,000 matching grant for the chair in 2010, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation provided $250,000 in 2011 and numerous other alumni and friends have supported the initiative.

“It is gratifying to see such strong support from alumni like Mr. Neilsen, who know first-hand how dedicated College of Idaho professors are to helping students succeed,” Henberg said. “We also are glad that the NEH recognized the impact this chair will make on campus and beyond in promoting greater understanding of the Jewish community and its culture.”

The endowed chair in Judaic studies has been the dream and brainchild of Berger, who joined the College’s faculty in 1982. Berger teaches Jewish history courses, hosts Passover Seders and involves the campus in other Jewish traditions throughout the school year.

In addition to establishing the endowed chair, the College has named an associated lecture series the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship in Judaic Studies in honor of the foundation’s support for the initiative. The lecture series will continue to bring Jewish dignitaries and public figures to campus to speak about contemporary Jewish issues.

“The love of learning that Dr. Berger taught me continues to guide me today,” Neilsen said. “Helping to make this chair possible, and ensuring that future College of Idaho students will receive that same gift from outstanding faculty, is truly rewarding.”

Alumnus gifts $1 million to Boone Hall remodel

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 faculty offices 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.

C of I publishes fall 2012 issue of 'Quest' magazine


C of I alumna and Wells Fargo executive Mary Monroe '78 is featured on the cover of Quest.

The fall 2012 issue of The College of Idaho’s official magazine, Quest, is in mailboxes this week. The issue has a theme of “Entrepreneurship,” celebrating many of the C of I alumni who have gone on to interesting and successful careers in a wide variety of ventures.

Features in the current Quest include the adventures of alumnus Richard Hazen ’69, who created a thriving business technology company in Alaska; the creative business ideas brought to life by graduates Liz Wallace ’90, Matt Blazek ’00 and Beth Brigham ’86; the opportunities for current C of I students to build professional connections with alumni; and a photo essay of “Coyotes around the Globe.”

Quest, The College of Idaho’s magazine for alumni, current students, faculty, staff and friends, is published three times each year. Click below to read an interactive online version of the magazine. Or, to view archived past issues, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu/quest.

Off-campus study experiences under way

College of Idaho students are ringing in the New Year from exciting locations around the globe! The Australia 2013 experience is in full swing, with C of I students and their faculty mentors exploring the tropical ecosystems and abundant wildlife of the Australian coast. Recent graduate Emma George ’12 is accompanying the trip and blogging about the group’s experiences. Follow the Australia 2013 experience at www.collegeofidaho.edu/australia, and be sure to check out the Australia blog for posts and videos from Emma as well as participating students and faculty.

In addition to updates from Down Under, live coverage of the London 2013 experience begins next week. Be sure to check out videos, photos and more from the 14 students exploring the art, history, literature and culture of England beginning Jan. 10. For more about the London experience, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu/london.

Check back later this month for coverage of a third off-campus tour, the Winter Wilderness Experience in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu/winterwilderness.


Winter 2013

College Events Calendar

January 5

Orma J. Smith Museum volunteer work day, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Boone Hall basement. Lunch seminar: 'Biodiversity and Natural History of Desert Ants in Big Bend National Park,' presented by Orma J. Smith Museum director William Clark.

January 10

C-Town Fight Night, 7 p.m., O'Connor Field House. For more information, contact Josh Hegstad at [email protected]

January 12

The C of I Outdoor Program is sponsoring an all-day ski trip to Sun Valley. Cost is $35. Reservations required and space is limited to the first 45 who submit payment. Click for more info.

January 18

The College of Idaho's Langroise Trio in concert, 7:30 p.m., Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy (Boise). Click for more info.

January 19

Alumni Destination Event: Sundance Film Festival (Ogden, Utah). Contact alumni relations at (208) 459-5770 to RSVP!

January 19

The College of Idaho's Langroise Trio in concert, 7:30 p.m., Langroise Recital Hall. Click for more info.

Through February 1

'In Formation,' an exhibition by Cassandra Schiffler ('07), 4:30 p.m., Rosenthal Gallery of Art (Blatchley Hall). The show is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Contact Garth Claassen at [email protected] for more info.

February 2

Orma J. Smith Museum volunteer work day, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Boone Hall basement. Lunch seminar: 'Introduction and Tour of the Robert E. Smylie Archives,' presented by C of I archivist Jan Boles.

February 8-9

Caldwell Fine Arts presents 'The Secret Garden' by Missoula Children's Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday, Jewett Auditorium. Auditions for youth in grades 1-12 set for 4 p.m. Feb. 4 at Wilson Elementary School (Linden and 10th Street, Caldwell). Click for more info.

February 15

Caldwell Fine Arts presents actor Tim Behrens in 'McManus in Love', a comedy for all ages, 7:30 p.m., Jewett Auditorium. Click for more info.

February 22

The College of Idaho Scholarship Gala: Spotlight on Athletics, 6-11 p.m., Boise Centre on the Grove. Click to buy tickets!


The College of Idaho wishes its students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year! Click to view a special holiday message from the C of I.

C of I English professor Diane Raptosh has been named an honorable mention winner of the annual Boise Weekly Fiction 101 contest, a competition for works of fiction no longer than 101 words. Raptosh gave a reading of her winning piece Jan. 3 at Rediscovered Books in Boise. Click here to read her story, Rugged Western Individualism, and other winning submissions in the Boise Weekly.

C of I alumnus Goran Fazil ’02 has been selected as the artist for the Bay Window Art Project commission inside the Boise State Student Union Building. Fazil, who also holds an art history degree from BSU and currently teaches a drawing and composition class at the C of I, will create a unique 2D/3D painting representing a pyramid-type structure soaring into the sky. The work is meant to portray the development of progress in society through a continuous upward construction. Click here to read more on the BSU website.

Goran Fazil '02

C of I alumnus Goran Fazil '02, right, teaches drawing and composition at the College.

News of The College of Idaho’s successful completion of fundraising for the new Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies has received coverage in several local media outlets, including the Boise Weekly and the Idaho Press-Tribune.

C of I political economy professor Jasper LiCalzi will be on the set of FOX 9 News on Monday evening to talk about Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s annual State of the State Address. LiCalzi also will have a taped segment on KIVI Channel 6 News at 10 p.m. Be sure to tune in!

The C of I Outdoor Program is sponsoring a moon-gazing and snowshoe experience Jan. 27 at Bogus Basin, the second in a multi-part series scheduled around the cycle of the moon. The event is free for C of I students, but reservations are required and space is limited to the first 12 people who register. The trip departs campus at 7 p.m. Students who participate in all three trips of the series will receive a free Patagonia fleece sweater. Click for more info or stop by the Outdoor Program office in McCain Student Center to sign up!

Check out a gallery of photos from the annual C of I Alumni and Friends Holiday Casino Party on the C of I Flickr page. Big thanks to all who came out and made this year’s event a success!