Idaho State University Expands in Idaho Falls
Idaho State University is remodeling and renovating a nearly 10,000-square-foot building on its Idaho Falls campus to make room for more faculty and course offerings.
The repurposed space, in the Tingey Administration Building, was formerly leased to the Idaho National Laboratory which housed a tech library for many years before the remodel. Construction began in late October and should be completed in time for fall 2016 classes.
When completed, the renovated complex will house 20 faculty offices, four lecture-style classrooms and student/faculty conference rooms, which will allow expanded course and degree offerings to ISU-Idaho Falls students.
“It’s a much-needed facility. When the tech library pulled out of the building, it was an easy decision to move forward with the idea to repurpose it,” said Dr. Lyle Castle, ISU’s vice provost of academic affairs and dean of academic programs at ISU-Idaho Falls.
Castle believes the additional space will make it easier to recruit and retain full-time Idaho Falls resident faculty, which in turn will make it easier to expand programs in Idaho Falls.
“We’re expanding ISU’s footprint in Idaho Falls, but that expansion really demonstrates ISU’s commitment to improving facilities and access to higher education, not only in Idaho Falls,” Castle said.
The repurposing of the Tingey Administration Building space is the first piece of the puzzle. Over time, the University plans to add 20 resident faculty to its Idaho Falls campus to create an interdisciplinary environment that will complement the Idaho National Laboratory and allow the campus to become more of an upper division and graduate institution, offering additional degrees that can be completed entirely on site.
“In addition to professors who teach the sciences—physics, engineering, chemistry—that complement the INL mission, we are planning to incorporate interdisciplinary, liberal arts faculty as well. For example, we would have an English faculty member who specializes in communicating science to the general public, a political scientist who specializes in energy policy and so on,” Castle said. “There will be a central theme to this group of educators, and with their collaboration will come a broadening and deepening of teaching and research opportunities that will enhance the learning experience for students and faculty alike.”
Currently, approximately 10 undergraduate degrees, six graduate degrees and two doctoral degrees can be completed entirely in Idaho Falls.
“The list of specific programs we hope to offer here is still in the planning stage,” Castle said. “But the hope is to expand to approximately 25 bachelor’s degree programs and 15 to 20 advanced degree programs offered entirely on the Idaho Falls campus.”
The University is also planning to adjust course offerings and the frequency they are offered to make completing undergraduate degrees in four years more feasible for students.
“The other thing students are really going to gain from this expansion is access to their professors,” said Castle.
“Right now, students get access to their professors in class, but because those professors aren’t usually resident faculty, students have very limited access to them as well as limited access for undergraduate research and research opportunities. These are the things that will change and improve immensely.”
Additionally, the lecture-style classrooms in the complex will address another need on the Idaho Falls campus.
According to Doug Simpson, facilities services project manager and campus architect, “There aren’t many flat, lecture-style classrooms. Most are tiered, which is great if you have a large class that is purely lecture, but if you have an English or communications class that needs to break into small groups, tiered rooms don’t work well. The flat classrooms in the Tingey Administration Building remodel will address some of that problem.”
The facility is being funded through the Public Building Fund Advisory Council, with a total budget of $838,894. The winning bid on the project was $631,920 from Barry Hayes Construction in Idaho Falls.
“We came in under budget, but if things come up that we haven’t foreseen, we’ll need to utilize some of that money. If those things don’t come up by the time we get near the end of the project, we’ve already identified some upgrades we’d like to incorporate to finish out the building,” Simpson said.
University administrators are currently working on a timeline and funding sources for the expansion plans for faculty and course offerings in Idaho Falls.
“I think it’s going to be a place where faculty members—and students—really want to be,” said Castle.