Cheryl and Joseph C. Jensen in the grand concert hall named in their honor
Image Credit: ISU Photographic Services

Web Extras

In Memoriam

Campus Mourns Recent Losses

Idaho State University mourned the death June 3 of Cheryl Huntsman Jensen, wife of alumnus Joseph C. Jensen, namesakes of the University's grand concert hall.

Cheryl Jensen died in New York City of breast cancer. She was 64. The Joseph C. and Cheryl H. Jensen Grand Concert Hall is the largest performance venue in the L. E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center.

"Cheryl Jensen understood and appreciated the importance of great music in people's lives and in the cultural life of Idaho," said University President Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D. "Idaho State University is immeasurably grateful for and proud of the Jensens' philanthropy, vision and commitment to ISU and southeastern Idaho."

A memorial concert and event is being planned in the concert hall this fall. The university community also is planning a memorial garden on the grounds of the Stephens Center in her honor.

Gifts in her honor may be made to the Foundation for Indian Development, P.O. Box 1395, Provo, UT, 84603; or to the ISU Foundation, either online at or at 921 S. 8th Ave., Stop 8050, Pocatello, ID 83209.

The University has seen the passing of other individuals whose philanthropy benefited the Stephens Center.

Billionaire Idaho businessman J.R. Simplot, namesake of the center's J. R. Simplot Company Conference Room, died on May 25. He was 99.

Pocatello philanthropist Barbara J. Marshall, for whom the Stephens Center's rotunda is named, died on Oct. 30, 2007, at age 84.

Thelma E. Stephens, the lead donor to the center and the widow of potato-marketing innovator L. E. Stephens, died on Sept. 15, 2006, at age 98.

A Familiar Voice Fades

Idaho State University lost a prominent voice–literally and figuratively– October 30, 2007, with the death of professor emeritus and longtime Democratic state Sen. Charles E. "Chick" Bilyeu.

A popular speech and drama professor from 1950 until his retirement in 1982, Bilyeu died at his Pocatello home at age 90. He had recently been hospitalized after a fall while on a trip to Boise. A funeral service was held at the University's Frazier Hall, followed by a burial service at Mountain View Cemetery in Pocatello.

Not only was Bilyeu a popular instructor known for his powerful voice, but he was a frequent performer in campus productions. The ardent supporter of Idaho State University served in the Idaho Senate from 1971 to 1994. He became the chamber's senior senator, and the senior member of the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

He is survived by his wife, Diane, who is currently a state senator. They both attended Pocatello High School, which named them both Distinguished Alumni. They both attended Idaho State University as well. They met in the mid-1950s, when he was a professor of speech and theatre and she was a student. He was directing her in the musical "South Pacific."

Strong supporters of education who raised three children—Clark, Brigette and Valencia —the Bilyeus received Idaho State University's prestigious William J. Bartz Award in 1990. The ISU political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha named each "Statesman of the Year" in 1994.

The University's Frazier Auditorium was renamed the Diane and Chick Bilyeu Theatre in 2005.

Yakovlev, scientist, '02 Commencement Honoree, Dies

Andrei Yakovlev, a scholar of international renown whose accolades included an honorary Idaho State University doctorate, died Feb. 27 at his home in Mendon, N.Y. He was 63.

At the time of his death, Yakovlev was professor and founding chair of the department of biostatistics and computational biology at New York's University of Rochester Medical Center. He received his honorary ISU Doctor of Humane Letters in May 2002.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, he became a citizen of the United States in 2005. During the 1990s he was a visiting professor at universities in France, Australia and Germany. He taught at Ohio State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Prior to arriving in Rochester, he was director of the division of biostatistics at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City from 1998 to 2002.

With a medical degree as well as doctoral degrees in biology and mathematics, he was able to function effectively across all of those disciplines.

He worked in cell biology, radiation biology, cancer research, statistics, biomathematics, biostatistics and computational biology, and in each of these fields he made a definitive and lasting contribution.

He was a longtime collaborator of and mentor to Idaho State University mathematician Leonid Hanin, Ph.D. They authored a book together on optimal radiation treatment of malignant tumors, and co-authored many refereed scientific articles. Hanin nominated him for the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Editor's note: Portions of this obituary were taken from a Feb. 27, 2008, University of Rochester Medical Center news release.