Friday, December 6, 2013

Visit by BSU officials raises hopes

Delegation tours sites in central Hailey

Express Staff Writer

This chart of income demographics shows that high-income groups are well represented among Sun Valley visitors. Courtesy graphic

    Boise State University officials were given a warm welcome during a visit to the Wood River Valley on Nov. 20. During a daylong series of meetings, they explored several opportunities to expand collaborations with arts organizations here and perhaps join into partnerships that could expand scientific research.
    Hailey government officials who invited the BSU representatives to town are hopeful that the university will establish a presence in Hailey, as either a research field office, or distance learning campus, but there would be several hurdles to overcome before a campus could be established here.
    “We were overwhelmed by the welcome we received and the interest shown to us in Hailey and Ketchum,” said Randi McDermott, chief of staff of the Office of the President of BSU. “This was the first time for us to meet with many of these people.”

We were overwhelmed by the welcome we received and the
interest shown to us in
Hailey and Ketchum.”
Randi McDermott,
Chief of Staff of the Office
of the President of BSU

    McDermott was joined by Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development at BSU; Mark Wheeler, dean of extended studies; Clay Morgan, director of collaborative research initiatives; and Mary Andrews, director of the Office of University and Industry Ventures.
    The BSU delegation was joined by state Sen. Michelle Stennett, former State Rep. Wendy Jaquet and Department of Commerce Economic Development Specialist Jerry Miller, as well as several local government leaders.
    The visit was organized by Hailey City Councilman Don Keirn and Hailey Community Development Director Micah Austin, who reached out to BSU officials in April. Jaquet helped organize Ketchum leaders to participate in the visit.
    The delegation toured the Hailey campus of the College of Southern Idaho before visiting The Mint bar and E.G. Willis buildings on Main Street, and the Village at Hailey Center on River Street, presumably to explore possible sites for an office or campus.
    “We don’t know enough yet what we might be able to do in the Wood River Valley to know if a physical space, or what type of physical space, would be needed,” McDermott said in an interview.
    She said that BSU officials would have get authorization from the State Board of Education before opening a campus in the Wood River Valley, due to the fact that this region is geographically situated within the area designated for Idaho State University and the College of Southern Idaho.
    “I don’t think we are far enough down the road to know if that is an issue,” McDermott said. “If we get to that point, ISU and CSI and the State Board of Education would have to be on board.”
    Following lunch at CK’s restaurant in Hailey, the BSU officials met with Wood River Community YMCA Executive Director Jason Fry and Sustain Blaine Executive Director Harry Griffith to visit a site at the YMCA that could potentially house a “human performance laboratory.”
    Griffith said the laboratory could provide a state-of-the-art testing facility for ski athletes training with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, for both Nordic and alpine programs. Griffith, who wrote the business plan for the project, is working to get the BSU sports medicine program involved to provide expertise, guidance and resources for the athletes, while also providing data for BSU researchers.
    The BSU delegates also met with Ketchum Community Library Regional History Librarian Sandra Hofferber about further collaborations with the annual Ernest Hemingway Symposium, which has seen lackluster attendance recently.
    After noticing an Idaho Mountain Express article previewing the BSU visit, Sun Valley resident Peggy Goldwyn, founder of the Family of Woman Film Festival, reached out to the BSU delegates before they came to town. Goldwyn met with the BSU representatives to discuss ways in which BSU teachers and students could participate in her festival.
    “This is one more exciting possibility for collaboration,” McDermott said.
    Sun Valley Film Festival representatives also joined with the delegation to explore possibilities of involving BSU students and faculty in the annual film festival’s screenings and events.
    “We had some great discussions with the BSU team about collaborating on a few programs, including the Screenwriters Lab,” said festival spokesperson Carol Waller.
    Austin said he is very excited about the response shown by the community.
    “Everyone here wants more participation from BSU. That is the feeling I got,” he said. “We have also reached out to Idaho State University, but so far they have shown no interest in locating here.”
Tony Evans:

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