Volume 44 | Number 1 | Spring 2014

All There is to Learn

ISU's Breadth of Programs Offers Something for Everyone

Spring 2014 Issue | By Andrew Taylor

Alisa Marley, a third-year doctoral student in ISU's audiology program, started her career by earning a massage therapy certificate. Between that initial choice and now, she also earned a law enforcement certificate from Idaho State University.

Her career path runs nearly the opposite track of Dr. Susan Swetnam, ISU English professor emeritus, the only ISU faculty member ever to win all three of the University's distinguished faculty awards for teaching, research and service. Swetnam is currently a student in ISU's massage therapy program. She plans to start her own grief and caregiver massage therapy practice alongside her writing and academic duties.

The career journeys of both women demonstrate the diversity of opportunities ISU's academic programming offers to students.

"I'm experiencing the bookends of the University," Swetnam said. "I'm still directing two doctoral students, and at the same time I'm enrolled in a certificate program. Some days I sit in with doctoral students in the last stages of their dissertations and then I break off to my massage therapy class. It's fun.

"It's nice to have the opportunity at the same institution," she said, "to get hands-on training in a craft or occupation."

Marley, too, said she appreciates all that ISU offers.

"I am a huge believer that trade programs are invaluable," Marley said. "The academic route is not appropriate for everyone—you need to have that option in the community. It's good that ISU has both. My goal is always to help people, and now pursuing the audiology doctorate is the best route for me."

The breadth of ISU's programming, more than 275 academic and certificate programs, is becoming increasingly important for students. There's plenty of data noting the importance of earning a degree. The report "The Rising Cost of Not Going to College" by the Pew Research Center shows the growing disparity between workers who have degrees and those who don't. The report notes that among millennials ages 25-32, those with a bachelor's degree or more have a median wage of $45,500 compared to high school graduates, who have a median wage of $28,000. The unemployment rate is also significantly less for those with degrees.

In Idaho, the State Board of Education has begun an initiative called Complete College Idaho. The Board's goal is that 60 percent of Idahoans ages 25-34 will have a degree or certificate by 2020. ISU's scope of programming is critical to reaching this goal.

"We have a unique profile of programs we offer, from programs at the professional-technical education and certificate level, to Ph.D. degrees from a (Carnegie) research high institution," said Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney, ISU provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We are the only institution in Idaho, and one of the few in the region that offers this range of programming."

Gary Shipley, '92, '04, '07, director of ISU's aircraft maintenance program, took advantage of ISU's full range of programs. He earned his associate degree in aircraft maintenance and eventually began working for ISU's aircraft maintenance program in 1999 as an instructional assistant. He went on to earn his bachelor's degree in 2004 and then his master's degree in human resources training and development in 2007.

"What the additional education did for me was open up a lot of doors outside of the wrench-side of the aircraft maintenance for the administrative side of the aisle," Shipley said.

ISU's diverse academic offerings allow students to explore a range of career options.

"I think the benefit ISU has over other universities is the closeness of the University overall," Marley said. "You have the opportunity here to network and see what opportunities are available."

We are the only institution in Idaho, and one of the few in the region, that offers this range programming.
— Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney, Provost