When I arrived at The College of Idaho, the first question people typically asked was, “Where did you come from?” followed by “Why?” Often it is difficult to have a perspective on the attraction of a place or an institution from within — not just the tangible qualities, but the opportunities and potential for what it can become. Why did I move here from London? One of my primary reasons is the sense of community.
The College of Idaho has a strong sense of internal community — in business organizations, it could be described as a family-type culture. Our students are largely residential and partake in many campus activities. Our faculty and staff collaborate across academic disciplines. Our linkages to the outside world (trustees, alumni and other supportive stakeholders) ensure our mission is relevant and that we are achieving elements of a vision that is moving us forward while keeping us grounded in reality.
Institutions like ours must also be aware of their place in, and impact on, the surrounding community. For The College of Idaho, this starts with the city of Caldwell and expands in widening circles of influence to all of the Treasure Valley, Idaho, the Northwest and beyond.
The true sense of community is more than just a quid pro quo exchange process, however, and more than just seeing community members as potential customers. Our history has created deep community ties through agriculture, health care, local government, education, the arts, nonprofits and business.
Building community partnerships achieves multiple, mutually beneficial objectives. Fundamentally, an active partnership reinforces our institutional mission of preparing students to lead productive and fulfilling lives. One core theme of this mission is building community and, in doing so, producing a responsible, resourceful, and reflective community. Another core theme is exercising stewardship of our environment, our people and our resources.
These themes pertain to the lives of students in our internal community, but they apply equally well to the impact members of The College of Idaho have on our external community. Isn’t it logical that all institutions whose community presence makes such an impact through supply chains, carbon footprints, employment, quality of life, etc., have similar stakeholder focus in their mission?
From a business perspective, partnering with the community makes practical, economic sense. Each semester, we have students collaborating with small business owners and nonprofit directors to develop marketing plans, contribute finance and accounting knowledge to business plans, and identify opportunities to innovate.
Our goal is to inculcate a sense of awareness among students of the symbiotic nature of business and community. Sustainable success comes not just from a focus on the single bottom-line (profit), but from an integrated focus on the triple bottom line (profit, people and planet). Certainly, people and planet speak to the importance of building community, and profits are largely influenced by community stakeholders for many businesses.
Why Caldwell? It’s all about community.