Dr. Kent Tingey, ISU’s vice president for university advancement, will soon conclude his more than two decade career serving the university.
For nearly 5 years it was my professional honor and personal privilege to work with him in laying the foundation for ISU’s reputational achievements. In my career, which spanned four decades, I never worked with anyone with the professional expertise and character abilities that form Dr. Tingey’s management style.
Teddy Roosevelt wisely observed “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what needs to be done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
While President Roosevelt never met Dr. Kent Tingey, the old Rough Rider’s description defines Dr. Tingey’s remarkable accomplishments as he winds down his Idaho State University career.
Those who have either graduated from ISU, served ISU as a faculty or staff member or for that matter, the people of ISU’s service region are the beneficiaries of his many great accomplishments and achievements.
No one more than Kent Tingey embraced the concept that leadership is predicated on one’s ability to translate a theoretical vision into actual reality by creating powerful inclusive university teams working toward a common outcome. No one better understood that public higher education continues to undergo transformational changes in a constantly evolving environment.
Dr. Tingey played an integral role in ISU’s meteoric rise. In his two plus decades of administrative and academic service he clearly demonstrated the ability to not only “grapple with the challenges facing institutions of higher learning,” but authored unique, creative solutions in addressing these complex issues. His extraordinary accomplishments are well known and respected throughout Idaho and the Inter-Mountain West.
During his two-plus decade tenure, Dr.Tingey has been an integral part in advancing the university’s continued academic growth. He astutely recognized the need for trained professionals in areas such as culinary arts, health services, digital arts, web-based development and the trades, i.e. welding and automotive. His leadership in establishing community ties and successful lobbying for legislative funding provided access and opportunity to thousands of students who otherwise might be shut out from a college experience.
More than 2,000 students participate in 34 programs with a job placement rate of 96% upon graduation. A majority of graduates are first-time college students who entered various programs to either begin a career, advance career opportunities, retool skills or simply take classes for enjoyment. The programs not only meet the needs of students, but also area business, industry, and community partners.
Dr. Tingey directed the University’s successful $152.5 million first-ever capital campaign. Among the many benefits accruing from his campaign leadership was the construction of the Stephens Performing Arts Center. Music, dance, theatre, lectures and more bring the communities of Idaho State University and Southeast Idaho together in one spectacular locale. The $34 million center was built primarily with the generous support of hundreds of private donors. The 123,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art complex has been called one of the finest acoustical concert halls in the United States, rivaling New York’s famed Carnegie Hall.
On the athletic front it was Dr. Tingey’s effort that resulted in Miller Ranch Stadium, ISU practice fields and renovations of Holt Arena football field becoming realities.
Dr. Tingey played a key role in convincing the Idaho Legislature and other government entities for the need of a school of medicine to primarily serve future physicians within the Inter-Mountain West. The school will soon house its initial class.
Another example of his fundraising acumen and leadership was the multi-million-dollar campus wide beautification project Dr. Tingey spearheaded. Through aggressive private philanthropic donations generated by him, the ISU campus continues to be transformed into a beautiful setting amidst Southeast Idaho’s rugged landscape.
Another of Dr. Tingey’s transformational accomplishments was the role he played in ISU being designated by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation of ISU as a research high doctoral research institution, an honor shared by fewer than 100 of America’s colleges.
Dr. Tingey’s extensive governmental relations expertise has garnered ISU additional state funding support during lean budget years. His governmental relations expertise has allowed the university to keep tuition among the lowest in the Inter-Mountain region, while growing academic offerings and programs. As noted earlier, his efforts with Idaho state legislators and then Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter helped secure approval for construction of an Idaho State University medical school.
Dr. Tingey was an advocate, partner and driving force in working with me and Idaho Public Television to create “Idaho State of Mind,” a weekly 30-minute television program aired on Idaho Public Television. Utilizing the expertise of ISU faculty and administrators, the Nielsen rated public affairs program provided a unique perspective exploring contemporary issues. It was the only weekly, regularly scheduled university-generated public affairs program airing on PBS in the United States.
In closing I hope those reading this will take a moment to reflect back on a remarkable career by a remarkable individual. Idaho State University, Pocatello and the state of Idaho are the beneficiaries of his talents, abilities and accomplishments.
Mark Levine is the former director of Idaho State University’s Department of Marketing and Communications. He now resides in Florida and is the president and chief executive officer of Sunshine Associates consulting. His favorite avocation is helping to raise his two special needs granddaughters.