Guest Opinions

Experiment with the nation’s only co-presidents is a success at College of Idaho

College of Idaho Co-Presidents Doug Brighman, left, and Jim Everett.
College of Idaho Co-Presidents Doug Brighman, left, and Jim Everett. College of Idaho

We have now been officially on the job co-presidents at The College of Idaho for more than three months and we can honestly say we are more optimistic about the future of the college today than we were the day we started. This shared leadership model extends to our entire team and speaks to the collaborative efforts we believe are necessary to accomplish anything of significance in today’s world.

We have spent the majority of our time listening to faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders to learn what they see as the pillars that make The College of Idaho the No. 1 College in Idaho, a view shared by Forbes Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

Some of our observations:

Academic excellence is a tradition worth trumpeting. Nowhere in the state will you find a higher percentage of classes taught by full-time faculty. The faculty conduct important research and students are engaged with them in doing what is often graduate-level research. The hallmark of our faculty is their passion for and commitment to teaching and mentoring our students in and out of the classroom. Finding a mentor is known to correlate with success in college. With the quality of our faculty and a low student-faculty ratio (9-to-1), our students invariably find at least one lifelong mentor here. Add to that combination our rigorous PEAK curriculum which enables students to earn a major and three minors in four years, and it is apparent why C of I graduates are employed at a higher rate than any school in the state (IPEDS Report). We also have a 97 percent satisfaction rate with our graduates, with more of them finishing in four years than any school in the state. Graduates are not only prepared to embark on their careers, they are empowered to make a difference in the world.

The College of Idaho is the most diverse 50 acres in Idaho. We have been so impressed by the international students who make up nearly 10-percent of our closely-knit student body. These students from 47 different countries bring a richness to the C of I community and provide a valuable lens from which multiple perspectives are formed, discussed and experienced.

Perhaps most impressive in our short time at the College has been learning the stories of our successful alumni from over the years. One, in particular, is that of our 2018 Commencement Speaker Dr. Forest Rohwer, a 1991 graduate. Originally from Parma, his life changed after a C of I biology trip to Australia, and he is now one of the world experts in coral reefs. His expertise even led to solving a medical mystery and saving a life. Rohwer’s speech is less than 15-minutes long and is posted on the College’s YouTube page. He titled it “Why You Shouldn’t Listen to the Commencement Speech,” and it is definitely worth a listen. Dr. Rohwer is just one example of how this great academic institution in Caldwell impacts lives and has been doing so for 127 years.

Jim Everett and Doug Brigham are co-presidents at the College of Idaho. Everett is the former CEO of the Treasure Valley YMCA; Brigham is the former president of TitleOne Corp. and a 1987 C of I graduate. Everett served on the C of I Board of Trustees in the early 2000s; Brigham as board chair from 2015-2017. The College’s Presidential Search Committee identified both Brigham and Everett as top individual candidates for its vacant presidential position in fall 2017. When the pair reframed their individual candidacies as a co-presidential team, the search committee was intrigued, prompting two months of discussion and consultation. In late February, the board unanimously appointed the co-presidents, the only known arrangement in U.S. higher education. In general, Brigham heads up enrollment, administration and academic affairs, while Everett leads development, marketing & communications, student affairs and athletics.