News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

August 17, 2009 — Vol. 25 No. 24

Faculty/Staff Updates

After 20 years, political science associate professor Douglas Nilson retires

Associate Professor Douglas Nilson

After “20 glorious years” Idaho State University political science associate professor Douglas Nilson is retiring with emeritus status.

“It has been an event-packed 20 years and an awful lot has happened,” said Nilson, who has contributed a great deal to the university, community and his profession.

Nilson has taught a variety of courses about American government and politics as well “special courses” in modern political analysis. Three of the special courses he said most interested him was a “Spirit of the ‘60s” class that focused on that tumultuous decade, “Fathoming the Fifties,” and a course he helped teach on practical campaign politics, which produced some successful campaign managers.

Teaching all of the classes has had its own satisfaction: “I felt rewarded teaching about every class,” Nilson said. “Students at Idaho State are very courteous, very interested and very bright, capable people. I was deeply touched that a group of students and ex-students threw a retirement party for me.”

His primary research areas have been disaster preparedness and environmental politics. Prior to coming to ISU Nilson worked at Arizona State University studying earthquake phenomena and how policy is made with regard to seismic safety and hazard mitigation with respect to other disasters. Before ASU, he worked at the University of Redlands and, along with a colleague, received the first National Science Foundation Grant on seismic safety and the public policy processes. He received a Founders Award from Cal-Tech University for work in establishing the Southern California Earthquake Safety Preparedness Program.

At Idaho State University he has focused more on environmental politics and some of his studies have been widely read, including one he co-authored with another emeritus ISU political science professor, Ralph Maughn, on what is “old and new about the ‘wise-use’ movement.”

“I’ve received a lot of attention for not only my scholarship, but also for my activism,” Nilson said.

With Mary Jane Burns, another emeritus political science faculty member, Nilson traveled to Ecuador to appraise programs in civic education.

Noting that “once a Peace Corp volunteer (as he was in the 1960s as a public health worker in Micronesia), always a Peace Corp volunteer,” Nilson recounted how important public service has been to his career. On campus, he served 11 years on the ISU Faculty Senate, including an intense three-year period as vice chair, chair and past chair.

“I was deeply involved in the affairs of the Faculty Senate,” he said. “I think it is easier to be chair of it if your are a political scientist. That job played to my strengths.”

Nilson was named Idaho State University Distinguished Public Service Award recipient in 2005 and received the 2009 Pi Sigma Alpha Educator of the Year Award. Pi Sigma Alpha is the national political science honor society.

He was active in professional organizations. He is the current president of the National Social Science Association and former president of the Pacific Northwest Political Science Association. Nilson has given lectures, including keynote addresses, at a wide variety of professional meetings nationally and abroad.

Beyond ISU and his profession, Nilson was an active community member as well. He has been and continues to be very active in the Democratic Party at the local, state and national level. Highlights to his service to the Democratic Party include going to the Democratic Convention in Boston 2004, serving as State Committeeman for Bannock County and serving as a member of the Executive Committee for the Idaho State Democratic Party. In 1976 Nilson was a congressional candidate in the 37th District for the state of California.

Nilson also has been active the last 20 years with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations on the local, state and national level.

Raised in the Bremerton area in Washington State, Nilson earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington, and his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

He will remain in Pocatello after retiring on July 31.

“One thing I plan to do a lot of is reading. I’m more interested in reading interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work than a specific discipline,” Nilson said. “And I want to read a lot of good fiction. I suspect I’ll have some time for that.”

Nilson observed that travel is his only hobby and he will be traveling pretty regularly. Of course, he will continue his public service work. He said he plans to take seriously his emeritus faculty status, keeping close ties with the University.

News Bites

ISU-Meridian offers online HIV/AIDS course

The Idaho State University-Meridian Health Science Center is offering an online course for students, medical providers and case managers who want to learn more about HIV and AIDS in Idaho. The class starts Aug. 24.

“We’ve designed the course for students and health professionals who are new to HIV and AIDs or who want to update their current level of knowledge,” said Judy Thorne, HIV education coordinator at the ISU-Meridian Health Science Center.

The course will include updates on medication, how to reduce stigma, tutorials on rapid testing, and perspectives from a physician and nurse who treat HIV and AIDS patients.

To register, go to and click on Register for ICEE Professional Development/Teacher Recertification courses. The class costs $50, and you have a semester to complete it. Professional development credit is awarded.

For more information, contact Thorne at

Ninth annual ISU Part-Time Job Fair set for Aug. 25

Idaho State University’s ninth annual ISU Part-Time Job Fair will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 25 in Room 130, Suites A-C in the Rendezvous Complex.

The fair is an opportunity for students to meet employers advertising part-time jobs. Students are also asked to bring copies of their resumes to leave with employers.

The fair will feature a wide variety of off-campus and on-campus employers. As many as 500 students are expected to attend.

Employers who wish to have a free booth can reserve one until Aug. 18.

For more information, visit or call the ISU Office of Human Resources at ext. 2517.

Retired employees to hold sixth annual reunion on Thursday, Oct. 29

Idaho State University’s retired employees retired employees will hold their sixth annual reunion on Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Juniper Hills Country Club. All retired ISU faculty and staff and spouses, as well as spouses of deceased retirees are invited to attend.

No-host social activities start at 5 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner at 7 p.m.

The informal organizing committee of Dick and Donna Sagness, Bruce and Alice Ronald, Ron and Joan McCune, Ross and Anita Ruchti, and Glenn Alford once again stress that this will be an enjoyable evening with the opportunity to reconnect with longtime friends in the ISU community. There is no agenda of speeches or entertainment to interfere with the social function.

“The retired reunion is always a great time,” said Dick Sagness, of the informal reunion committee. “It’s wonderful to get together with old friends and enjoy each others’ company. And the food and beverages are always excellent.”

The dinner costs $26 per person, and prepayment before Oct. 22 is required. Payment should be sent to Ross Ruchti, Office of Alumni Relations, ISU Box 8033, Pocatello, ID 83209.

Retirees who know of other retired ISU employees not receiving an invitation or who have moved are asked to inform a committee member.

For more information on the reunion, call Joan McCune, 233-8467; Anita Ruchti, 233-6594; or Donna Sagness, 232-8298.

The “I Love ISU” Campaign will feature callers in Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Boise

The 27th annual “I Love ISU” campaign for Idaho State University academic scholarships is off and running and will feature callers in Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and for the first time in Boise.

The Blackfoot volunteer calling campaign will be held Aug. 26; the Idaho Falls volunteer calling campaign will run Sept. 14-15; the Pocatello and American Falls volunteer calling campaign will run Sept. 21-24; and the Boise calling campaign will be held in October.

“This has become a special event for Southeast Idaho residents, who have always responded favorably when contacted by ‘I Love ISU’ volunteers,” said K.C. Felt, ISU director of annual giving. “We’re hoping for a similar response from the community that we’ve experienced in previous years to help us provide scholarships for area students.”

In 2008, “I Love ISU” raised $406,988 in pledges. For the 2009-2010 academic year, more than $330,000 “I Love ISU” scholarships will be awarded.

On Aug. 26 Blackfoot callers will be set up in the ISU Outreach Center in Riverside Plaza calling from 9 a.m. to noon. On Sept. 14 and 15 Idaho Falls volunteers will call from the Bennion Student Union Building at University Place from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. From Sept. 21 through Sept. 24 volunteers in the Pond Student Union Building in Pocatello will call during the same hours. Boise volunteers will be the first to make calls from the new ISU Meridian Health Science Center.

Donations to the scholarship campaign will continue to help meet a huge need.

“With the economic conditions as they are, these scholarships are more essential now than ever for many students,” Felt said. “These scholarships are often the difference-makers that allow students to attend college.”

Prior to the actual calling, a number of events associated with the campaign will be held. The ISU Foundation, along with business partner, Citizens Community Bank in Idaho Falls, will host the Aug. 20 Idaho Falls Chamber Business After Hours at the newest Citizens Community Bank location at 900 S. Utah. The Idaho Falls Chamber Forum Luncheon on Sept. 8 will highlight the “I Love ISU” campaign and ISU President Arthur C. Vailas will be the featured speaker. Representatives from “I Love ISU” will have a trade table at the monthly Chamber Membership Luncheon on Sept. 4 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pocatello.

On Sept. 17 a brand new event will take place. “I Love ISU” leaders and volunteers will be busy manning the counters at the McDonald’s Restaurant at 831 Yellowstone in Pocatello for “McI Love ISU” night. Twenty-five percent of all sales from 4 to 7 p.m. at all three local McDonald’s in Pocatello will be donated to the “I Love ISU” campaign. Everyone is invited to join in this event.

The “I Love ISU” Celebration, hosted by Watkins Distributing, will be held Sept. 24, at the conclusion of the Southeast Idaho portion of the campaign. This Pocatello Chamber Business After Hours, from 5 to 7 p.m. will be held at the Booth Barn, 1100 Booth Drive in Pocatello. A check will be presented to ISU Student Body President Ross Knight at 6 p.m.

For additional information on “I Love ISU” contact Felt at (208) 282-2994 or the ISU Foundation at (208) 282-3470. Information is also available at the “I Love ISU” website.

Light occupancy sensors to be installed in several buildings this month

As part of the University energy conservation efforts, Larsen Electric will begin installing light occupancy sensors in all offices in the following buildings. Installations will take place from Aug. 6 through Aug. 21. Please contact Syed Hashim, environmental specialist with Facilities Services, at x2747 or for details.