Change will be good for Idaho

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Judy Meyer is one smart lady, with one foot firmly in the realm of Idaho higher education and the other solidly on the ground of Idaho business.

Judy and her husband, Steve, in the business of leasing commercial properties, have long supported education in general and higher education in particular, ranging from their personal gift of $1 million to North Idaho College to countless hours of board service and in various official and unofficial advisory capacities.

So when Judy recently shared an observation with The Press, we were all ears.

She noted that the state has been focused for several years on improving public education, from preschool through the state’s two- and four-year colleges. Steve Meyer was one member of a distinguished higher education task force appointed this year by Gov. Butch Otter. That task force followed a group put together by the governor in 2013 that has significantly improved the delivery of K-12 education in Idaho, with longer-term benefits still percolating.

Leave it to Judy to see a door of opportunity swinging wide open, where others might not see a door at all.

She noted that the president of Boise State University, Bob Kustra, is stepping down next June. University of Idaho President Chuck Staben was recently named a finalist for the top job at the University of New Mexico. While he wasn’t selected, Staben’s wandering eye is a signal of eventual departure, more likely sooner than later.

Idaho State University is looking for a new leader and is expected to name one in February. Lewis-Clark State College President Tony Fernandez announced he will retire next June.

A private institution, College of Idaho, has placeholder Bob Hoover presiding after President Charlotte Borst suddenly resigned in August. A new president is slated to be hired sometime in 2018.

For those of you who are counting, one private college and at least three of the state’s four largest higher ed institutes will have new leadership next year, while the land grant institution, University of Idaho, is no doubt preparing for change at the top.

Some observers might gasp at the possible impact of such important departures, as these presidents all have made outstanding contributions over the years. But others will be holding their breath in eager anticipation. Think of the flood of new ideas, new energy, new relationships that the coming year could bring to Idaho. Remember that Idahoans will also choose a new governor and lieutenant governor in 2018. Think of the impact this almost total transformation at the top of Idaho’s educational and governmental pyramids might have for years to come.

Those afraid of change may want to keep their eyes closed for the next 12 months or so.

For the rest of us, 2018 can’t get here soon enough.

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