Republican Gov. Phil Batt’s first appointment to the state Board of Education is a fellow Canyon County resident - a retired Caldwell physician with experience on two Idaho school boards.
Dr. Thomas E. Dillon, 63, a Republican, was named Friday to succeed Boise lawyer Karl Shurtliff, a Democrat, on the eight-member board that oversees both public schools and higher education in Idaho.
Shurtliff’s term on the board was due to expire March 1, but he resigned last month.
“Dr. Dillon comes to the board with a balanced approach between higher education and public schools,” said Batt, a lifelong Wilder farmer. “He has no strong tie to any one institution and, therefore, will be able to serve the needs of all the citizens of Idaho.”
Dillon has lived in Idaho since moving to American Falls to open a family practice in medicine in 1962. He was a member of the Power County School Board in American Falls from 1963 to 1968 and of the Caldwell School Board from 1974 to 1980.
However, the graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia said his appointment was not necessarily prompted by his public school background.
“I don’t have a preconceived agenda,” Dillon said. “What I would hope to bring to the board would be a common-sense approach that’s based in the fact that I’ve served both in a small school district and a large school district.”
Dillon, who retired last April, said some Caldwell-area residents encouraged him to apply for the Board of Education post after Shurtliff announced his resignation, and he wrote to Batt offering his services.
He said he has no opinion whether Idaho’s engineering education programs should be expanded by the University of Idaho or through a free-standing engineering school at Boise State University.
“I want to read - and I have not done that - the proposal from the expert in New Mexico, and hopefully in the very near future,” Dillon said.
The consultant hired by the Board of Education recommended earlier this month that the University of Idaho program be expanded to meet any increased demand for engineering education in the Boise area.
Batt said Friday that the report should be considered, but should not be the deciding factor.
Besides his family practice, Dillon has been involved in sports medicine and is keenly interested in sports. But the governor said the doctor “has expressed on many occasions that academic performance should be ahead of everything else.”
Besides his medical practice, Dillon founded and remains on the board of directors of Tomlinson and Associates in Boise, a multi-state development and management company.
Dillon and his wife, Donna, have three children.
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