In the less than one year that Idaho State University’s new president has been at the helm, the school that’s nearly as old as Pocatello itself has experienced quite the comeback.
When Kevin Satterlee was hired, we all agreed that ISU needed change and soon, but none of us expected the momentum to swing in a favorable direction so quickly with a new leader in charge.
In the first 10 months of the Satterlee era, ISU has gone from a rudderless ship prone to missteps to a place with vision, esprit de corps and a desire to not just improve but to be the best.
Satterlee has brought back the pride — the Bengal roar — to our university that’s been absent for so long.
In the years before Satterlee’s arrival ISU had become a school of last resort for not just students but for educators. ISU’s enrollment was in a tailspin, its reputation blemished by negative national media coverage for controversies that could have and should have been avoided, and it was tough to find anyone proud to be there.
Satterlee inherited all of those problems and got to work. He apologized to the faculty for the way they’d been treated in the past, made the necessary changes to the school’s administration, most notably firing Athletic Director Jeff Tingey, and became the very visible face of the institution, showing up at community events big and small and never passing up the chance to meet local people.
Satterlee appreciates Southeast Idahoans, is honored and humbled to be ISU’s president, and the fact he wants people to call him “Kevin” as opposed to “Mr. President” is evidence he’s a servant leader who does not hold himself above anyone.
Satterlee’s first 10 months at ISU were a chapter capped off by his inauguration as the school’s 13th president on Friday morning at the Stephens Performing Arts Center.
Satterlee’s speech to the hundreds of people in attendance was like nothing ISU has heard for many years.
Satterlee talked about the importance for leaders to have passion for their organizations. No one questioned his passion for the university after his address and that passion has definitely had a trickle down effect on everyone around him.
But the theme of the speech was more about ISU’s number one mission, that being its students.
It was a simple message that was long overdue.
The speech could have been titled “Why We Roar” because Satterlee used that phrase throughout and his words as well as the multiple videos he presented provided the clear answer.
Satterlee wants ISU to be a place that cares about doing more for students than simply collecting their tuition checks.
He clearly sees his university as a team with ISU’s students being the central and most important part of that team. Their concerns, their dreams, their futures are what ISU cares about most. “It’s why we roar,” Satterlee said.
His words resounded throughout the Stephens center with a credibility, thoughtfulness and bold determination that our university has not experienced in a very long time.
As he exited the Stephens center on Friday morning, the ISU band played the 1980s hit song “Eye of the Tiger.”
Satterlee has made it clear during his first 10 months that the tiger is back at our local university.
And a big part of that roar is Satterlee himself.
For the first time in years, optimism, pride and teamwork are the words that are being associated with ISU.
Satterlee deserves a huge thank you for providing the badly needed leadership, vision and morale-boosting motivation that have reversed ISU’s fortunes.
We couldn’t be happier to have this small town Idaho kid leading our university.
Thank you Kevin for all that you’ve done and all you’re going to do.