ISU Headlines

Philanthropist Bistline issues ISU Stephens Center challenge

Posted May 22, 2008

Pocatello philanthropist Beverly B. Bistline, a major donor to Idaho State University’s L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center, will match all new cash gifts up to $250,000 through this July 1 to help pay off the remaining $5 million cost of construction, the ISU Foundation has announced.

 Beverly B. BistlineAlso, if donations received by July 1 reach the $250,000 goal, Bistline pledges to add another $250,000. The pledge essentially gives donors the opportunity to have their gifts matched at a ratio of 2-to-1, Foundation officials said.

Bistline’s goal is to launch the drive toward an initial $750,000 goal. She previously contributed $3.5 million to the center, establishing the Beverly B. Bistline Thrust Theater.

Foundation officials say that $5 million in costs for the $34 million center, which was built primarily with donated funds, remains to be paid. The center opened in 2004, with its inaugural event in the venue that was named for the retired attorney and long-time University benefactor.

Bistline, a veteran member of the ISU Foundation Board of Directors, said she remembers well the meeting six years ago at which the board discussed construction of the acclaimed performing arts center.

“We were faced with a choice between raising more funds and possibly getting a loan, or scaling down the project to a more institutional architectural style with fewer acoustical tools,” Bistline said. “I was the first to come forward and say, ‘Hey, let’s build something first-class, a jewel for Idaho.’”

The board subsequently voted to move ahead with original plans, which ultimately required additional fundraising and bonding. It proved to be the right decision, however, as today Pocatello and Idaho State University are home to a facility that world-renowned performers have described as being among the nation’s best. Such performers as Peter Cetera and Chanticleer were drawn to Pocatello specifically to experience this venue, and publicly remarked that it is one of the finest they have seen in their extensive travels.

“This is just a beginning for the overall project, which I hope will result in contributions of at least $5 million by this time next year,” Bistline said.

Michael J. Byrne, alumnus and current president of the Foundation Board of Directors, applauded Bistline’s initiative.

“Beverly was passionate about this project in the beginning, as evidenced by her previous $3.5 million in support,” Byrne said. “She remains passionate about it as we approach the finish line. The people who have experienced this magnificent venue and recognize its tremendous cultural and economic impact, I expect, will come forward to finish the job. It takes an effort from everyone.”

Those who would like to participate in the Beverly B. Bistline challenge and double or possibly triple the size of their gifts to the Stephens Center should contact Pauline Thiros at the ISU Foundation, 221-2352 or thirpaul@isu.edu, by July 1.