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Last First Day for Maughan

August 23, 2023
Steve Maughan

Dr. Steve Maughan ‘85 remembers his first day of classes at The College of Idaho. It was 1981 and he was a freshman chemistry major from nearby Caldwell High School. His first class? Civ, taught by Clark “Bucky” Halker ‘76. He also had a chemistry class in what is now Boone 103.

Wednesday marked the first day of classes for the 2023-24 school year at the College and Maughan was once again standing in Boone 103. Teaching Civ to incoming freshmen.

It’s weird the way things come full circle sometimes.

“The first day of classes with students is always exciting,” said the long-time, popular history professor. “But it’s the last first day which brings up some strong memories, good memories of the past. It’s also a little melancholy, a little bittersweet for sure.”

Maughan, who has been part of the YoteFam for over 40 years, is retiring at the end of this academic year.

“The College of Idaho changed my life,” said Maughan, who graduated with a double major in history and chemistry. “It changed the way I look at the world. It changed the possibilities I saw in the world. It changed my options fundamentally.”

After Maughan graduated from the College, he and his wife, Jane, moved to Boston where she completed her studies and he pursued his graduate studies at the prestigious Harvard University. Once he had completed his master’s and Ph.D. degrees, he spent time in London as a Fullbright Scholar. But then, another full-circle moment occurred.

“When Jane and I left for the East Coast, we never thought we were coming back here,” Maughan admitted. “It was fortuitous that the job (at the College) opened but we never would have imagined that we would have been 30 more years in Idaho.”

He was hired by his alma mater to come home and teach in 1992. Three decades of incoming freshmen, three decades of “first days.”

While Maughan taught at the College, his wife taught elementary school children. Once this year is completed, both will put away their grade books for good and will move west to a new home on the Oregon coast near their grown children, who live in Portland.

“Just spending some time with the ocean,” he explained. “That is something that appeals to both of us.”

Until then, though, Maughan will continue to look out at his students in each of his classes and hope to see the start of journeys toward fulfillment just like he did in those same classrooms.

“It’s the students who often bring you back with their questions … you get these great conversations where you can see the lights going on,” he said. “You hope you see that same spark, you see that same discovery that there are far more options and far more possibilities than you had thought.”

The College of Idaho has a 132-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight 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