As State Board of Education Member Milford Terrell came up for his confirmation hearing this afternoon in the Senate Education Committee, Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, grilled him about the board's decision to remove the word "flagship" from the University of Idaho's mission statement. Terrell, who has served on the board since 2003, is a BSU alum and former president of the Bronco Athletic Association.
Before he even came in for questioning, Terrell brought up the "flagship" issue. "Of the 73 land grant institutions in the United States, only six include the word flagship" in their mission statements, he told the committee. "Those are lead institutions for a statewide university system." An example, he said, is Maine, where he said the University of Maine's mission statement calls it "the flagship campus of the University of Maine system, so that state is one system. It has all the schools under one umbrella, with a flagship where the president resides, and then has chancellors under him." Click below for more on the exchange.
Goedde told Terrell, "It appears to me from these minutes that you led the charge in the discussion of the state's flagship institution ... and offered that it provided a feeling of prejudice and belittling other institutions. Can you give me a little more background on why you felt that?" Terrell said, "I had done a lot of research on this on my own. ... I found out what flagship means." He said, "My life is about kids. I don't want any kids to feel belittled. ... The fact being, is that the flagship does mean it is the grand and wonderful lead ship. So that's how I come up with my expressions as you have talked about in the minutes."
Goedde said, "There's been some accusations, particularly among the University of Idaho alumni that you're prejudiced toward BSU." Terrell said, "Did I grow up in Boise? Yes, I did, sir." But he said he believes all of Idaho's universities "need to work together collaboratively."
Asked about the differences between UI and BSU, Terrell said, "The range of differential between the two is that one is a lot older than the other, it was the first land grant, or the first university in the state of Idaho, and you cannot take that away from them. But you also cannot take away from the fact that Boise State is becoming one of the research centers for the state of Idaho. ... I feel like that puts them all in that same ball game."
Terrell also spoke about the drop in funding for Idaho's higher education system, and senators asked him why he wants another four years on the state board. "I have a burden for the kids in the state of Idaho," said Terrell, a plumber who grew up in the old Warm Springs Children's Home in Boise when it was an orphanage. "I'm just a plumber. And I will tell you that I think I have more common sense than a bunch of attorneys, excuse me all of you, that set and try and debate to see who's smarter. ... I bring to it my feelings and my love for kids. And I don't care about the political issues. ... This is about kids, and I think I can make a difference. And that's why I strive to stay on this. It's not for the money."