Projects approved for Boise State and Idaho State

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Boise State University dorm.

Boise State University got the green light for a multimillion-dollar dorm Wednesday.

And Idaho State University got the go-ahead for a multiyear expansion plan in Meridian.

Here’s a closer look at the two projects, which received unanimous State Board of Education support Wednesday:

The Boise State dorm. The 450-bed project is designed to fill a hole at the state’s largest university, and in a spendy Treasure Valley housing market.

Boise State can offer housing to only 55% of its incoming first-year students, said Jeremiah Shinn, the university’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.

Living off-campus poses two immediate problems. Research suggests first-year students do better academically, and more easily adjust to college, if they are living on campus. And while a number of apartments have sprung up near the campus, some rents have nearly doubled over the past decade, Shinn said.

The six-story project now carries a $70 million price tag. That’s up from an initial rough estimate of $45 million, and the added cost reflects the Treasure Valley’s “volatile” construction market, chief operating officer Alicia Estey told the board.

With Wednesday’s vote, Boise State will be back before the State Board in June to lay out a financing plan.

Idaho State’s Meridian campus. The State Board approved Idaho State’s ambitious, 950,000-square-foot master plan for expanding its presence in Meridian.

All of the development would take place across 22 acres, to the north of Idaho State’s existing Meridian property.

Idaho State says the project is designed to turn the Meridian site into more of a fully functioning campus. The project includes plans for 205 housing units — something Idaho State doesn’t offer in Meridian now.

But the biggest piece of the project is also Idaho State’s top priority: 290,000 square feet of clinical space.

Adding “clinical teaching” space is crucial to expanding course offerings in health care, Idaho State President Kevin Satterlee said. Idaho State plans to work with a private partner on the clinical teaching space.

This partnership could kickstart the Meridian project. Idaho State also has received $8.4 million from the state’s Permanent Building Fund, and could put some of the money into the Meridian site.

But the buildout won’t happen overnight.

“This is definitely a multi-decade concept here,” Satterlee said.

New State Board leadership

As is its every-other-year custom, the State Board switched its leadership team.

Linda Clark

Former West Ada schools superintendent Linda Clark will take over as president. Boise businessman Bill Gilbert will serve as board vice president. State superintendent Debbie Critchfield will serve as board secretary.

Placing Critchfield on the board’s leadership team is a departure from recent history, and a deliberate one. The elected state superintendent automatically gets a seat on the State Board, but adding Critchfield to leadership is an attempt to break down barriers between higher education and the K-12 system that falls under Critchfield’s purview, outgoing board President Kurt Liebich said.

This will be Clark’s second time around as board president. She served in this role from 2017 to 2019.

“It’s an exciting time to see how we can continue to move forward,” she said Wednesday.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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