Outgoing ISU president talks retiring young, travel plans and expectations of next pres.

POCATELLO — Thirty years ago, at age 25, Kevin Satterlee was the youngest member of his graduating class at the University of Idaho College of Law.

Then, he said, he became the youngest person ever to be assigned as Chief Legal Officer for the Idaho State Board of Education before becoming the youngest ever general counsel at Boise State University.

After five years as Idaho State University President, Satterlee has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31.

“I think I’ve been too young for every job I’ve ever had, so it’s not surprising that I retire and get people going, ‘You’re too young for that.’ I have worked 30 straight years in high-stress, high-demand jobs and I’m ready to retire,” Satterlee told EastIdahoNews.com. “I’m privileged to be able to retire at a young age.”

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In his five years as president of the university, Satterlee has overseen many things he is proud to have been part of. He noted the reinstallation of the “I” on Red Hill — and the pride that comes with it — as well as the upgrading and modernization of facilities like Davis Field, Holt Arena, the student lounge and library.

What he is most proud to have spearheaded over the last five years though is a refocusing by the university on its culture and mission.

“I think the university is proud of itself. I think our community is proud of this university. Our students like their student experience,” he said.

When Satterlee took office in 2018, the university was mired in an extended stretch of enrollment declines.

“We purposefully went to work on that,” he said.

Enrollment has increased each of the past four semesters. And, he added, 54% of last fall’s incoming class were the first members of their families to attend college.

ISU President Kevin Satterlee in front of his office. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

With his time in the president’s office winding down, Satterlee said he has been in contact with the State Board of Education regarding the university’s next president. He has no direct involvement in the selection process, but says he is happy to serve as consultant to the board regarding the university’s needs.

“I think I’m appropriately involved to help guide the transition as best I can, to make sure we do well in picking the next president. That’s important for everybody that’s here,” he said.

According to a news release from the state board of education, an interim president will be appointed for the spring 2024 semester. The goal, the release says, is to have the next permanent university president in place by July 1, 2024.

Asked what single attribute is most important for the 14th president in ISU’s history, Satterlee said the job requires a “mission-centric” mindset.

ISU’s mission, he said, is to help students better their lives through education. That mission is something he kept as the focus of his tenure and hopes his successor does the same.

When his time as president ends, Satterlee said he will refocus himself on family, friends and travel.

Though he does not have any trips scheduled yet, he will be moving from his adopted home of Pocatello — likely to the Boise area, where all three of his children live.

Satterlee is also a new grandfather — having welcomed his first grandchild earlier this year. He plans to spend as much time as possible with his family — something his career has made difficult for the better part of three decades.

As for travel, he said he has some destinations in mind. At the top of that list is Austria.

“One of my dreams for a really long time has been to go to Austria. … The history in Austria, the culture and the beauty — I really want to go there” he said. “But it isn’t all just about travel. It’s not like I’m going to travel my life away, but I will have the flexibility to be able to travel.”

His departure will not be simple, though.

Satterlee is happy to have been the president of ISU — part of “a fantastic institution with fantastic people.”

“The stability of the republic depends mainly on the education of the people,” he said of ISU and the importance of higher education.

ISU’s role has been to educate the people of southeastern Idaho

“That is a wonderful thing to be able to say I had some part of,” he said.