Idaho State University: Promising Research Gem, Fantasy, or Oppressive Ayatollah Regime?

The rhetoric and debate has gone risen beyond a feverish pitch in Pocatello.

Observers wonder what will happen next.

43rd State Blues host Serephin spoke of this heat in his entry: Controversy being engineered at Idaho State University. Since then, the flames have gotten worse. Professor of Civil Engineering Habib Sadid spoke out in the comments section under a September 4, Idaho State Journal story called: ISU faculty very angry, very frustrated with Vailas administration:

In Khomeini’s regime is Iran, there was a judge who used to execute anyone opposing the government’s policies without trial.

His justification was that if the person is guilty, justice was done and if the person was not guilty, he/she will go to Heaven.

We are now facing a similar situation here at Idaho State University.

For more on Sadid’s fight at ISU see: this Inside Higher Ed article.

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The journal article was written by Dr. Bruce Loebs who recently began his 81st semester at ISU, and details a mood on campus that a group of insiders are calling unprecedented in recent years:

Obviously I like my job. But this year the atmosphere on campus is depressing. At a recent College of Arts and Sciences faculty meeting Dean Scott Hughes urged his faculty to guard against ‘low morale.’ David Delehanty, last year’s chair of the Faculty Senate, told the Idaho State Journal Aug. 2, ‘my sense is that the faculty is very angry and very frustrated.’

Loebs continues:

This anger and frustration is not caused by the national economic recession. My colleagues understand and accept the salary freeze, severe budget cuts, and the terminated faculty positions. One of the causes for controversy on campus is the belief, held by many faculty members, that the university administration is pursuing a policy that undermines undergraduate teaching and education – ISU’s main objective.

University President Arthur Vailas is determined to emphasize research, and when financial and human resources are limited teaching and research often compete. President Vailas’s goal is straightforward. After assuming office in July 2006, he stated boldly that he will “set (ISU’s) trajectory to become a pre-eminent research university that will serve the people of Idaho, the nation, and the world.” According to the Idaho State Journal, July 1, 2007, “Vailas has been widely quoted as saying” ISU “should strive to become ‘the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) of the West.’”

… President Vailas’ mission is a fantasy.

ISU can not, should not and, of course, will not become the “MIT of the West.” To the extent that the university diverts scarce financial and human resources to pursue this hallucination, the quality of its undergraduate teaching and education suffers.

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Will Vailas be successful in his mission, or will ISU’s pot boil over?

How will it happen?

When?