Through the generosity of her family members, a new, endowed professorship at The College of Idaho has been created in honor of former board member and community leader Klara Hansberger. The Klara K. Hansberger Endowed Professorship is established by a $1.25 million gift to the College by her daughters, Carol Lloyd and Bobbi Hansberger, and their families. The professorship will be added to the College’s History Department in the 2021-22 academic year.
The professorship will serve as a lasting tribute to its namesake, Klara Hansberger. “We were delighted to set up an endowed professorship for our mom at The College of Idaho,” said Lloyd, a former member of the Board of Trustees. “She has had a lifetime interest in education. The Klara K. Hansberger Endowed Professorship really does reflect her deep and sincere belief in and the importance of education.”
“I think my mom is a wonderful example of continuing education,” said Bobbi Hansberger. "I think its importance to her has continued to grow."
Klara Hansberger was born and raised in Luverne, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in mathematics and education. She and her family moved to Boise in 1957 where she served, among other roles, as Vice President of the Futura Corporation. She was also involved in an exceptional range of civic, community and professional organizations, including service to the Board of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Advisory Committee of the JFK Center for Performing Arts, St. Luke’s Auxiliary, and the Boise Assistance League. Her leadership roles included President of the Boise Gallery of Art and Chair of The College of Idaho Spring Symposium.
Hansberger joined The College of Idaho Board of Trustees in 1979 and served variously as an officer of the Board, a member of the Executive Committee, and Chair of the Finance, Audit, and Educational Affairs Committees.
Her friend and colleague Alice Hennessey told a story of Hansberger’s leadership during a time of economic trouble at the College. “The College had really fallen on hard times financially and was on the verge of being sold to Japanese investors,” Hennessey recalled. Just as the investors were about to sign the papers, Klara “called a timeout and she said to her fellow board members in a quick huddle, ‘We can’t do this. We cannot sell the College. It’s too important to Idaho.’ They didn’t, the College survived, and today, it’s thriving.”
“She considers her involvement in retaining The College of Idaho to be probably the most important thing she ever did,” Bobbi Hansberger added.
In 1985 the College awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Law, and she has since been recognized as a Distinguished Citizen by the Idaho Statesman newspaper.
A passionate and lifelong student of history, Klara Hansberger believes that a well-educated and knowledgeable citizenry is essential to a thriving democracy. Accordingly, the inaugural appointment of the professorship established in her honor will be to Professor of History Dr. Mee-Ae Kim. Professor Kim has instructed generations of College of Idaho students during the past two decades. Her work ethic and dedication to her students are highly regarded and matched by the rigor of her courses and the support she provides for the students who take them. Among her many leadership roles at the College, she has served as Faculty President and as Associate Dean.
Professor Kim was flattered and thrilled to be the first instructor to be associated with the endowed role. “It was an enormous honor. I was left speechless,” she said when she learned about her selection to the professorship. “When (Provost David Douglass) told me about the Hansberger Endowed Professorship and explained some of her passions – her passion for history and education – I thought this is someone that I certainly feel a lot of affinity with. Her belief that education is transformative and that education is an essential component of what it means to be a citizen, what it means to be a community member.”
The Hansberger name also has a long history with Boise Cascade Corporation, where Klara’s husband Robert was the company’s first CEO and grew it into one of the largest producers of lumber and paper in the nation. When Senior Vice President and General Counsel Jill Twedt, current Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees and a 2001 graduate, learned of the endowed professorship, she saw how it aligned with some of the goals of Boise Cascade Company. The endowment empowers the College to attract and retain excellent instructors, and with the first recipient being a woman of color, Twedt appreciated how it strengthens the College’s diversity efforts as well.
“I am the youngest executive on our executive team and one of two females,” Twedt said. “To see diversity expanded in our company, and expanded in the valley, embraced and celebrated, seeing that the College was getting an endowment in the Hansberger name, and in Klara’s name, it was just a great opportunity to celebrate that with the College; celebrate it with our community. And Mee-Ae Kim, what an incredible professor we get to celebrate.”
To mark the establishment of the Klara K. Hansberger Endowed Professorship, Boise Cascade Company donated an additional $25,000 to the fund.
A video featuring Carol Lloyd, Bobbi Hansberger and Alice Hennessey reflecting on the Hansberger Endowed Professorship can be found on the College’s YouTube channel here.
The College of Idaho has a 130-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.