C of I Newsletter

2016. 01. 22

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C of I establishes new marching band program

Marching Band

The College of Idaho Music Department—and fans’ traditional march from campus to Simplot Stadium before home football games—just got a little more boisterous.

This fall, the C of I will add a new marching band program, complementing its outstanding musical tradition with a boost in brass, percussion and woodwinds. C of I Band Director Luke Strother already is recruiting outstanding marching band students to help launch the program in fall 2016.

“As we build the marching band, we’ll also have students for symphonic band, jazz band and more musicians to participate in symphony orchestra and opera,” Strother said. “So it strengthens and adds to the College’s music department as a whole.”

The creation of a marching band comes two years after the reinstatement of the C of I football program. Coyote football has enjoyed great success on the field and has been a huge hit in the community, ranking No. 2 in the nation for NAIA football attendance. The addition of a marching band will further enhance the game day atmosphere and, like football, open doors for new students to experience the many benefits of an outstanding liberal arts education at the C of I.

“This program has the potential to be so much more than a marching band,” said John Ottenhoff, C of I vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “We hope and believe that it will invigorate our music program and the entire campus.”

Strother, who specializes in the trombone, has already started to build the program. In 2015, he led a 20-student pep band that played during football and basketball games. Over the next few years, he’ll more than double the size of the group, utilizing the strong high school programs present throughout Idaho and beyond.

“We have great turnouts at our football games and it seemed like an official marching band was the last thing missing,” said C of I sophomore Dallin Kroon, president of the student drumline. “I’m excited to be part of The College of Idaho marching band in its infancy.”

This spring, Strother will visit local high schools to talk about the new program. An advantage of a smaller music department at the C of I, he said, is there will be ample opportunity for students to play. They won’t have to sit behind 40 older trumpet players and wait until they are a junior or senior before they get a chance to shine.

“Playing at football games is incredible, being right there on the field and being around all the excitement,” Kroon said. “The football program has been a big deal and I get comments from coaches and players about how much they love having us there. But students won’t stop with just the marching band. We have a jazz ensemble and other groups that would fill up and be beyond incredible with the amount of musical talent we have at this school.”

Students interested in joining or learning more about the C of I marching band are encouraged to contact Dr. Strother at [email protected]

Mellon Foundation awards C of I $100,000 grant

Computer lab

The College of Idaho has received a $100,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of digital liberal arts education. The grant, which will help fund curricular and pedagogical planning at the C of I, is the first award the College has received from The Mellon Foundation. It also marks the first foundation grant cultivated by new C of I President Charlotte Borst.

“This is a thrilling day for The College of Idaho,” Borst said. “We know from national college rankings and our students’ success upon graduation that the C of I offers a superb academic program. This Mellon grant, with its focus on innovation in the liberal arts, will further strengthen our curriculum and lead to even greater success for our graduates.”

The College of Idaho requested the grant to strengthen its distinctive PEAK Curriculum by developing faculty’s capacity to incorporate new digital technologies into teaching and student-faculty research in the humanities. The focus of the two-year initiative is helping professors develop new, technology-rich courses through training, collaboration and small grants for exploration. With the support of The Mellon Foundation, the C of I will look to build upon its already strong commitment to the humanities, continue to shape a compelling modern curriculum, and empower faculty to make full use of the technologies that are transforming pedagogical approaches and collaborative research throughout the liberal arts.

“This grant will allow our faculty to explore new digital technologies,” said John Ottenhoff, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the C of I faculty. “It also strengthens what we do best here, which is to help students become more reflective and creative, more able to think critically, and better able to express themselves articulately and knowledgeably.”

The Mellon Foundation funds are designated to be used between May 2016 and April 2018.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, the foundation supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.

Whittenberger Planetarium director receives grant for public outreach


 The College of Idaho’s Whittenberger Planetarium offers visitors the chance to become engulfed by planets, stars, galaxies and exploration of the final frontier. But what if you could get a similar experience in an elementary, junior high, or even high school classroom?

That’s where the Starlab comes into play.

And thanks to a recent $5,000 NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) grant, C of I planetarium director Amy Truksa will hold a workshop in June 2016 to teach 25 local school teachers how to use the portable planetarium.

“It’s a phenomenal tool,” Truksa said. “Crawling into a planetarium at your own school is so unique compared to anything else students might be doing.”

The Starlab is an inflatable planetarium that can be rented from the College. Once it is inflated, people crawl through a tunnel, which opens up into a dome. Inside the dome, a projector displays the night sky, much like the ceiling of a planetarium. By changing the cylinders on the projector, the Starlab can also display Greek mythological constellations, Native American constellations, the organelles of a cell, wind currents, ocean currents and more. That makes the Starlab applicable to a variety of classes, whether it is exploring mythology for language arts classes, talking about different cultures and the way they perceive the world for social studies, or walking into a cell for biology.

“It’s a fantastically novel way to teach science in the public schools, especially at the elementary levels,” Truksa said. “They don’t have labs for biology and chemistry classes. It’s really, really difficult to have hands-on science.”

Abigail St. George, a fourth grade teacher at Marsing Elementary, remembers when she crawled into the Starlab while attending Vallivue High School in Caldwell. For her, the Starlab made the solar system come to life. After going into teaching, she tracked down the C of I Starlab to implement into her own classroom.

“I remember being in the Starlab and thinking how amazing it was to be able to feel like I was experiencing space,” St. George said. “I want my students to be able to really experience the solar system as we learn about it. I want them to be able to look up into sky at night and be able to show their parents the different things they see.”

Training teachers to use the Starlab enhances the mission of the Whittenberger Planetarium, which was built specifically to provide educational outreach to the community in the sciences, Truksa said. When the Starlab was first purchased in the 1990s, a similar workshop was held to teach educators how to use it. But over time, as those teachers moved on or retired, the Starlab has received less use. After deciding it was time to put together another workshop, Truksa drafted and submitted her grant proposal to train elementary school teachers to teach astronomy and use the portable Starlab equipment.

While the final schedule for the summer workshop isn’t set, Truksa is planning on holding the Starlab training the week after local schools get out in June. The workshop can be taken for experience or for continuing education credits toward teacher recertification requirements.

Teachers interested in participating in the workshop can contact Truksa at [email protected]

MLK Day offers reflection for C of I campus


College of Idaho students, faculty and staff picked up detergent, toothpaste, deodorant and other items, and dropped them into drawstring bags destined for young homeless students. It was all part of a small volunteer experience during the United Way poverty simulation held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

In recognition of MLK Day, the College organized campus events including the poverty simulation, a lecture on community, a cross-cultural simulation, a choir performance and a viewing the documentary The Color of Conscience.

“The College of Idaho designated MLK Day as a day of special recognition wherein energies generally devoted to classes were channeled toward reflection on human rights and the social justice values extolled by Dr. King,“ said Paul Bennion, C of I vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

During the poverty simulation, students participated in an interactive game called ‘Making Choices.’ Students were grouped into families and given a budget equal to that of an average Idahoan. It was a way of showing and experiencing how unexpected situations in life can change financial standing, said Robynn Browne, director of development and community engagement for The United Way Treasure Valley.

“People had to make some really hard choices. Life throws stuff at us—people get sick, people lose jobs—and we had a few of those things happen during the course of the game,” Browne said. “You move quickly from sustainability [with your budget] into survival.”

In Idaho, 37 percent of people struggle to make ends meet, according to the ALICE report. Finding out how many people are not living sustainable lives came as a shock to ASCI President Chanse Ward.

“Learning the facts from firsthand sources, seeing the actual lives of people effected in negative ways— you can take that information, along with a college education, and meaningfully work toward improving the lives of others,” Ward said.

The campus community also had the chance to listen to Dr. Larry Roper, a professor in the school of language, culture and society at Oregon State University. He presented on “Today Matters: Building Our Community’s Legacy.”

Roper encouraged people on campus to reflect on themselves and how to improve their relationships among cultures across campus. He asked the audience to look at their community from the perspective of each person in that community.

And that’s where the cross-cultural simulation experience helped. Students, staff and faculty were separated into two groups—Alphas and Betas. They then learned about their new cultures and what the cultural norms and goals were. After getting used to their new culture, they mixed and interacted with each other.

There stood members of the Beta culture, speaking a nonsensical language and holding up cards of differing colors with numbers scribbled on them.

“Ga, JoDi,” a Beta said to a member of the Alpha culture, which spoke English. A puzzled look spread across the Alpha’s face as he realized he hadn’t walked into another room, but another world.

At the end of the game, everyone came back together to discuss what they learned. Alphas were described as “touchy feely,” “exclusive,” and “suckers.” Betas were described as “greedy,” “simple,” and “pushy.”

“There was a sense of trying to understand, but after a while, they [Betas] weren’t helping me understand and I was like, ‘whatever,’” said C of I senior Averey Strong, who was an Alpha.

The experience showed how easy it was to make cultural mistakes, become confused, put up walls to those who are different, and how scary it can be when you’re outside your culture and comfort zone.

“It’s crazy about how stressed an individual gets in a game situation,” said junior Cameron Arnzen. “Think about the real world.”

And that’s exactly what the day was designed to do—to take each event and apply it to the real world. The campus community was asked to reflect upon what they could do to improve the C of I community, to step into another’s shoes, to remember to stick with love in order to “live together as brothers” and not “perish together as fools.”


Winter 2015

College Events Calendar

Every Friday

Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History hosts public open house, 1-5 p.m., Boone Hall basement. Click for more info.

January 22

Basketball doubleheader: Women's and men's basketball take on Corban at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, in J.A.A.C. Click here for ticket information.

January 22-23

C of I Indoor Track competes at the Jacksons/ New Balance Invitational at the Idaho Center in Nampa.

January 23

Basketball doubleheader: Women's and men's basketball take on Northwest Christian at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, in J.A.A.C. Click here for ticket information.

January 23

Kappa Casino: Join the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority for a night of live jazz, black jack, poker, raffle prizes and more from 7:30-11 p.m. in the Langroise Foyer. Admission is $5 with proceeds going to Reading is Fundamental.

January 29

Caldwell Fine Arts presents Missoula Children's Theatre production of Rumpelstiltskin at 7 p.m. in Jewett Auditorium. Auditions for the play will happen from 4-6 p.m. Jan. 25 at Lincoln Elementary in Caldwell. Click here for more information.

January 30

Langroise Trio concert, 11 a.m., St. Michael's Cathedral in Boise. Part of the Boise Philharmonic Chamber Series. Tickets are $15 adults and $10 children.

February 20

SAVE THE DATE: C of I 125th Anniversary Scholarship Gala, 5 p.m., Boise Centre. Click for tickets and info.


2016 is off to an exciting start at The College of Idaho! Get all the latest C of I news and updates from President Charlotte Borst in this month's episode of Charlotte's Webcast!

The College of Idaho has once again been named Idaho's No. 1 choice for higher education, this time by MSN Business Insider's list of "The Best College in Every State."

Former C of I softball pitcher Nickayla Skinner '14 was inducted into the Mountain Home High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Skinner won two state titles in high school before becoming the most prolific pitcher in C of I history.

The strongest biology department in Idaho. Four years of small class sizes and collaboration with professors. An atmosphere of empowerment that has allowed her to thrive. These are some of the reasons Sarah Walsh chose The College of Idaho. Why did you choose C of I?

Coyote Athletics Roundup: Check out the latest issue of  "The Pack," the official magazine of Coyote Athletics...Men's basketball swept road games Jan. 8-9, earning team of the week honors while guard Manny Morgan received the player of the week nod...Women's basketball ended an 11-game road losing streak with a 73-61 win over Multnomah...The C of I swim team had a dominant win versus Pacific...The natioanlly-ranked C of I ski teams started the season with wins at the NWCSC giant slalom qualifier at Mt. Hood...Maddy Kelly was named the NAIA Women's Swimmer of the Month.

Check out the Coyote Corner (page 5) in the latest edition of the City of Caldwell Newsletter. Plus, learn about all the exciting things happening in our hometown!

The C of I Theatre Department held its annual fundraiser, The Thespian Freeze Out, in which students and faculty had the chance to experience the icy water of a dunk tank in January. Check out video and photo coverage of the event on C of I social media!

Staff Roundup: C of I President Charlotte Borst was mentioned in an Insider Higher Ed article on new presidents and provosts...Khyler McBee, who works in the C of I cafeteria, was featured in an Idaho Press-Tribune article. The up-and-coming video journalist recently filmed videos of the Mercy Hospital fire in Nampa and the militia events in Burns, Ore., which have gained thousands of views on social media...C of I marketing and communications director Jordan Rodriguez was mentioned in the Idaho Press-Tribune for being named a 2016 Rising Star by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

The announcement that the C of I will start a new band program in 2016 made news in the Idaho Press-Tribune. Read more on the new band program in the headline story above.

The College of Idaho wasn featured in a recent Idaho Press-Tribune article comparing the average debt and salary of alumni among Idaho's colleges and universities, along with the annual cost of each institution, according to College Scorecard. C of I Vice President for Enrollment Management Lorna Hunter, quoted in the article, said the numbers help correct the perception that private colleges are significantly more expensive than public universities.