ISU Magazine

Volume 41 | Number 1 | Fall/Winter 2010

Red Hill in winter

The columns atop Red Hill in the winter.

Photo by ISU Photographic Services

A Base for the Future

Fall 2010 Issue | By Emily Frandsen


For exiting Idaho State University Foundation President Michael Byrne, giving to Idaho State University is a way to give to those who have helped him.

The retired partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers has enjoyed extraordinary success in life and has made large gifts to the University, but speaks with an air of humility.

"To the extent that I have had success, Idaho State University gets a large share of credit for that success. I think it's critical that people recognize that and do everything they can to repay the University and enable others to have that same opportunity," he said. "I love Southeast Idaho and the entire state of Idaho, and there is no better way to make an investment in the future success of the region than to invest in education."

Meet the ISU Foundation Board of Directors

It's an idea that Dr. Kent Tingey, vice president for University Advancement, says permeates through all members of the Idaho State University Foundation Board, present and past, and those who have given generously of their time, talents and means throughout the University's history.

"What each of these remarkable individuals brings is an affection for and commitment to Idaho State University and a desire to help Idaho State University achieve greatness," he said. "They are good, kind-hearted alumni and friends who care and want to make the University and the world better, not for themselves, but for others."

The Idaho State University Foundation, and its 20-some member board of directors are tasked with helping the University meet its goals in several areas, ISU President Arthur Vailas said.

"The Foundation is a supportive arm of the University," Vailas said. "These are well-networked people. It's important that word gets out to the world about Idaho State University, and the Foundation facilitates that."

Vailas sees the Foundation members as stewards of Idaho State University. Along with helping increase donations so important to the continued growth and development of the University, they work on legislative issues, network, and support a vision of economic development to benefit both Idaho State University and the entire region.

"They provide an outside perspective," he said. "We share with them just about everything we do."

Newly installed Foundation President, William Eames, also sees great opportunity to assist the University in its growth and development.

"For Idaho State University to continue to press forward and meet its state-assigned mission, the Idaho State University Foundation will have an ever-increasing role," said Eames, whose career has included ownership of many pharmacies and extensive involvement in the banking industry. "As state funding becomes more challenging, private philanthropy becomes critical. Truly, the friends and alumni of Idaho State University will make a substantial impact in the future of this outstanding University."

As Idaho State University's funding structure changes to reflect less state funding, the role of the Foundation becomes even more important, Board Chairman Joseph Jensen said.

"That's a reality we've all had to come to grips with," Jensen said. "The way universities are funded is changing. It's going to continue to change."

Rather than rely on state funding, Jensen and others say, university foundations are helping to fund programs and scholarships through generous donations and partnerships.

In Idaho Falls, for example, Foundation Board members have worked with the Idaho National Laboratory to offer unprecedented joint research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, the Board is studying different models of fostering research. The Board is dedicated to raising funds and supporting programs that would encourage commercial and university partnerships, and allow more creativity in faculty, Byrne said.

"We need to be an engine for economic development in Idaho," Byrne said.

Studying the possibility of ways to enhance research is one of the next steps for an organization that has made great gains in professionalism and success in recent years.

Related Story: read about a few of the remarkable donors we have at ISU

Without the work of the Foundation and generous donors, there would be no L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center, Tingey said.

"These are outstanding men and women," he said.

Jensen, who has given generously to the University, most recently in a large donation that helped to build the Stephens Performing Arts Center and the Joseph C. and Cheryl H. Jensen Grand Concert Hall, said that giving is his way of making a difference.

Jensen, who is also a graduate of Dartmouth College, says he supports Idaho State University because he knows what his gift means to the University.

"I want to make a difference. I want my life to make a difference," he said. "At Idaho State, because of the needs that are here, there is great opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. If anything, I wish I could do more."

Everyone can benefit when people give to higher education, Jensen said. Even small donations make a difference, he said.

"A lot of people don't understand the benefit to the community. There is kind of the feeling that someone else is taking care of it," he said. "Students often think their tuition pays for their education. Part of what (students) are getting here is because of what someone else has done."