ICCU professorship group

Idaho State University professor Alex Bolinger, center, has been awarded the first endowed professorship in management at the College of Business thanks to the support of Idaho Central Credit Union.

POCATELLO — Idaho State University’s College of Business is announcing its first-ever endowed professorship in the department of management thanks to the support of Idaho Central Credit Union. The announcement marks the fourth new endowed professorship in the College of Business in the past 10 months.

The ICCU endowed professorship in management will last in perpetuity and will be awarded to tenured faculty members in the management department. Professor of management Alex Bolinger has been selected as the first ICCU endowed professor, due to his exemplary work and the signature learning opportunities he provides to students in his classes. The ICCU team is pleased to support Bolinger’s efforts in furthering his research and providing the hands-on student projects that Bolinger has developed for his students.

“Alex is an inspiring professor, and I’ve watched his work in action for many years,” said ICCU chief executive officer and College of Business alumnus, Kent Oram. “I know students are better prepared for the workforce when they have studied with him.”

Bolinger was surprised with the professorship award on Monday afternoon with an unexpected visit from Oram; ICCU’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Shelli Bardsley; ICCU’s chief marketing officer, Michael Watson; and Bolinger’s family.

“It is particularly meaningful to receive this professorship from ICCU because of their generous sponsorship of the ICBSC,” Bolinger said. “ICCU has not only provided funding, but Kent Oram and his entire leadership team have consistently taken the time to meet with our Idaho State graduate business students to mentor them and cheer them on. I cannot imagine a better partner, and I am honored to be associated with the ICCU name.”

For the past seven years, ICCU has also sponsored the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition team, which Bolinger and accounting professor Dawn Konicek advise.

For the competition, a team of graduate students competes against teams from around the world, working in executive roles to manage simulated corporations. ISU students participated in the 55-year-old event in the 1990s for several years but stopped for nearly two decades before Bolinger brought up the idea of bringing the opportunity back to College of Business students. Since bringing the competition back, ISU’s student teams have returned every year with a first or second place trophy.

“ICBSC is unique,” Bolinger said. “It’s as close as a student can get to experiencing what it is like to run their own company without risking their own money — and I have never seen any activity that challenges and engages students in a way that simulates the decisions they will make in real-world organizations.”

Bolinger said that graduates of the Idaho State ICBSC teams span the country from Vancouver, Canada to the East Coast all of which have been very successful in their careers. He said that for many of the students, their experience in the ICBSC was the pinnacle of their college careers.

In addition to the ICBSC, Bolinger also implemented a book writing course that has allowed four groups of ISU honors program students the opportunity to become published authors and even stars of an Emmy-nominated documentary. This course started out as an experimental idea of Bolinger’s, giving students the opportunity to work collaboratively in teams. The books have all been published by Arcadia Publishing and include histories on Garrett Freightlines, Pocatello, ISU and the book to have inspired a PBS documentary — the history of Idaho’s role in World War II.

“One of my goals as a faculty member is to bring ‘signature experiences’ to students,” said Bolinger. “Experiences, such as ICBSC, that enable students to dynamically apply what they are learning in the classroom and remember long after they leave Idaho State.”

Bolinger said that “one of the challenges for a smaller, more rural institution such as Idaho State University is faculty’s need to travel in order to cultivate research collaborations, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends for making classes dynamic and current. This gift gives me the peace of mind of knowing that I will be able to continue to build those collaborations and bring cutting-edge ideas and practices back to our students at Idaho State.”

Oram said that it is his hope that this gift will give Bolinger and future management professors the resources needed to continue to provide students with these unique and impactful experiences. “Professorships are powerful because they keep giving year after year. I trust (Alex’s) judgement on what he believes would work best and what that will look like along the way.”

This professorship is the fifth to ever be established in the College of Business. College of Business Dean Shane Hunt notes that these endowments are an important piece to retaining professors like Bolinger that provide unforgettable and impactful experiences for students that ultimately help guide them to a successful future. Hunt explained that these professorships not only help the college to attract faculty, but they are a major piece to retaining the outstanding professors that make the most difference in a student’s experience in college, which has an impact on student retention and success as well. It is through support from donors like Idaho Central Credit Union that these professorships are possible.

“Thank you to ICCU for this transformational gift,” said Hunt. “Idaho Central Credit Union has had an incredibly positive impact on our university and community, and this gift will benefit students, professors and our region for generations to come. I also want to congratulate my friend and colleague Dr. Alex Bolinger on being named the ICCU endowed professor in management. Alex is a world-class teacher and researcher whose leadership and service make every part of the Idaho State College of Business better.”

“I feel really fortunate that I get to work in a community like Pocatello and at a place like the Idaho State University College of Business with faculty and staff who care first and foremost about the student experience,” Bolinger said.