POCATELLO — Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee stepped away from the podium to put the finishing touch on his impassioned 50-minute address to faculty and staff Monday at Frazier Hall.
“Over the next several months and honestly over the next several years, we are going to make some changes,” Satterlee told the packed auditorium. “Changes in the way you’ve done things in the past, but changes designed to bring out our natural potential, to play to our strengths, to let us be the best version of ourselves as an institution.”
Idaho State has already started to change in visible ways, recently unveiling a redesign of the Bengal logo and restoring the iconic “I” to Red Hill. ISU banners, brandishing the new logo, were placed on the outer walls of Reed Gym, the Pond Student Union, Stephens Performing Arts Center and the Fine Arts Building throughout the past week. Plus, ISU banners on light poles have been replaced.
“Today, marketing and communications is unveiling new brand standards that were a year in the making,” Satterlee said. “Thank you marketing and communication for a job well-done.”
The restoration of the “I” on Red Hill is being funded completely by the family of the late Dr. Lawrence H. Rice. The cost was approximately $225,000, according to ISU. Construction recently commenced on the “I” project.
“The ‘I’ on Red Hill is part of our history. It’s part of our legacy. It’s part of what defines us,” Satterlee told the Journal. “The history of our university is important to us.”
Satterlee also announced the university has welcomed 67 new faculty members.
A future change he wants to happen is improvement in student retention, which he called the biggest problem ISU faces.
“We have a significant retention issue and it will take everyone here to address it,” Satterlee told the audience. “Helping our students walk across that stage at commencement, that’s our primary goal. In fact, it is. And it needs to be a goal of all of us.”
After the speech, Satterlee spoke about the greatest strength of the school, saying ISU offers a “great student-centric education.”
“I have heard over and over in this last year how much our students feel that their faculty care about them,” Satterlee said. “That we are a great place for our students is the main message because the heart of this university is how student-friendly we are.”
Monday’s speech was his second annual ISU August address to staff and faculty.
“I am really, really happy to be here,” said Satterlee, who became ISU’s president in April 2018. “I have learned a lot. I have gained a better understanding of what it means to be a Bengal and I have gained a better understanding of what this institution means to our community, to our students and to this state.”
Last year, he used his time on stage to apologize to faculty and staff for what transpired before his arrival. This year, he started his speech by showing footage of hall-of-fame racehorse Seabiscuit, which Satterlee compared to ISU.
Quoting from acclaimed author David McCullough, Satterlee said Seabiscuit did not look like a stereotypical racehorse, like the “large” and “sleek” thoroughbreds that “were without imperfection.” But Satterlee said when Seabiscuit became surrounded by the right people, the horse thrived.
“The trainer, he knew that getting the horse that was trained wrong in the past meant there were going to be worries and troubles ahead,” Satterlee said. “But he said this: ‘We had to rebuild him mentally and physically, but you don’t have to rebuild the heart. When that heart is already there, as big as the whole outdoors, you can do something wonderful,’ because he knew that Seabiscuit had the heart of a champion and with that, he could work with what the horse was good at, what his basic strengths were, if he let Seabiscuit just be Seabiscuit.
“In order to get to that point, the new team had to make some changes.”