ISU Headlines

Idaho State University homecoming award recipients announced; Alumni Recognition Dinner set Sept. 24

Posted September 9, 2010

Idaho State University will recognize and honor special alumni, faculty and staff at Homecoming 2010.

Award recipients will be honored at the President's Alumni Recognition Dinner at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at the Red Lion Hotel in Pocatello, 1555 Pocatello Creek Road. A reception at 6 p.m. precedes the dinner. Those wishing to attend should contact the ISU Alumni Office at (208) 282-3755 or e-mail The cost is $40 per person.

Dr. Ellen Joy Plein is being honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award; Clarence W. and Velma A.* Byrne are being honored with the William J. Bartz Award; Dr. Corey Schou is being honored with the Idaho State University Achievement Award; Coach Dave Nielsen is being honored with the Idaho State University Distinguished Service Award; Bruce S. Bistline, Senator Robert L. Geddes and William M. Kobus are receiving the President's Medallion; and David S. Kragthorpe is Homecoming Parade Marshall.

Following are the honorees and their awards:

The ISU Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes exemplary professional and personal contributions resulting in national or international recognition. Dr. Joy Plein earned her bachelor's degree in pharmacy in 1947, the year University of Idaho — Southern Branch became Idaho State College.  She earned a masters degree in pharmacy at the University of Washington in 1951 and a doctoral degree in 1956. In 1952, she married Dr. Elmer Plein, a professor at University of Washington. 

She started her teaching career at University of Washington in 1954, and became a full professor in 1974. Plein has dedicated her career to geriatric pharmacy. In 1973, Joy and Elmer Plein, with the help of a graduate student, developed a nursing home pharmacy course, which led to more courses in geriatric pharmacy and the establishment of the Certificate in Geriatric Pharmacy Practice. In 1989, she and Elmer established a pharmacy teaching program at the Hearthstone, a Seattle continuing care retirement community.

Plein has served on panels at the national level, including the FDA's OTC Review panel and the National Advisory on Health Professions Education.

Plein continues to conduct research and contributes to a number of courses on campus.

She has earned recognition in several venues, especially for her work with the geriatric population. In 2002, she received the Janssen ElderCare Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2001 she received the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists’ George F. Archambault award. In 2004, she was honored with the ISU President’s Medallion. Plein has established three scholarship endowments at Idaho State in memory of three dear friends and classmates from the Class of 1947.

The Idaho State University Achievement Award recognizes personal actions, generosity and self-sacrifice on the behalf of the university by a faculty member. The award was established in 1984. Dr. Corey Schou is professor of informatics and computer information systems. He was also recently appointed a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and teaches graduate courses in the College of Education.

As university professor, Schou directs the Idaho State University Informatics Research Institute, which works closely with researchers around the world, and hosts the National Information Assurance Training and Education Center and the Simplot Decision Support Center. The Informatics Research Institute also hosts the U.S. government Cyber-Corps Scholarship for Service program. In addition to research with partners in more than 15 countries, Schou currently collaborates with campus colleagues in anthropology, education, engineering, psychology and for the Idaho Museum of Natural History.

Schou was the founding chair of the Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education, and served in that role for 13 years. He is also the editor of two journals and is the Information Assurance Series editor for a major publisher. He serves on the board of directors of the largest non-profit computer security professional certification organization and is chair of the Information Security Asian Advisory Board. He has also served as the U.S. representative to the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Schou has designed and developed simulation, information, training and computer security systems for organizations such as Apple Computer, American Bankers Association, General Motors, Federal Express, Microsoft and United Airlines.

In 2009, Schou was recognized by (ISC)2 as one of the founders of the information assurance professional certification association and in 2008, the government of Saudi Arabia invited him to keynote the opening ceremonies of their first Center of Academic Excellence in Computer Security.

The Idaho State University Distinguished Service Award recognizes ISU staff that have shown exceptional loyalty to the University though an extended period of employment. Coach Dave Nielsen has been the head track and field coach at Idaho State University for 27 years. He is well known for having coached former Olympic champion and world-record holder in the pole vault, Stacy Dragila. A former pole vaulter himself, Nielsen was a Big Ten champion, earned All-American honors and competed at the 1976 Olympic trials.

He is an innovator as well as an athlete. Nielsen, working with Tom Ecker, introduced the "somersault long jump" as a new technique in 1973. Later as a coach, Nielsen offered coaching and competitive opportunities to women in the hammer throw, weight throw and pole vault long before they were collegiate events. He originated the Team Power Ranking method of scoring and ranking college teams and provided a scoring table for each event at the NCAA championship.

Nielsen has been an active writer for professional magazines, served on the NCAA and USTFCCCA Track and Field committees. He also chaired the USATF Women's Pole Vault Development Committee from 1998 to 2006.

Nielsen's athletes at Idaho State University have earned All-American status 20 times, including 11 in the last four years. Forty-five athletes have advanced to the NCAA championships, 163 have won Big Sky titles and 391 have earned All-Big Sky Conference recognition.

Nielsen earned a bachelor's degree at University of Iowa and a master's degree at Idaho State University. In addition to his time at ISU, he coached at the University of Wisconsin in 1982.

Nielsen is the proud father of three sons — Hans, 25, Thor, 24 and Sven, 20. Dave and his wife Michelle were married on Jan. 10, 2009.

The William J. Bartz Award recognizes continued support and development of ISU through personal actions, participation in University affairs and financial support.

Clarence W. Byrne was born Sept. 6, 1914, in Burton, a small farming community near Rexburg. Like most farm children in the 1920s, Byrne spent many hours ranching and farming with his family.

He attended school in Burton, and graduated from Madison High School in Rexburg in 1933. He attended Ricks College in Rexburg, but left during his final semester to help support his family after his father was injured in a grain elevator accident and temporarily blinded.

In 1938, Byrne went to work for Utah Power and Light, and in 2008, he was recognized as a 70-year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

In 1940, Byrne joined the Idaho National Guard and in 1943 he was sent to North Africa. In 1943, he was injured and sent to the 32nd Station Hospital, where he met his future wife, Velma.

Velma A. Byrne* was born July 26, 1917, in South Grafton, Mass. She was the first girl to hold an elected student body office at her high school. She graduated from the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing in 1939 with high honors. She volunteered during World War II and became a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, assigned to the 32nd Station Hospital Unit in North Africa and later Italy.

The couple married in the chapel of Velma’s unit in Casserta, Italy, on Sept. 6, 1944. Velma wore a wedding gown made entirely from the parachute of a P-51 fighter pilot. After the war, the couple was reunited and Clarence went back to work for Utah Power in Arco, and in 1955, he flipped the switch that made Arco the first city in the world to be lit by nuclear power.

The Byrnes later moved to Rigby, where Clancy and Velma were both active in the community. Clancy retired in 1977, and the couple traveled extensively, visiting 49 of the 50 states.  The Byrnes had five children, C. William Byrne, Jr., James A. Byrne, Michael J. Byrne, Thomas Byrne and Patricia C. Byrne.  Four of the five attended and graduated from Idaho State University and they, along with their spouses and children continue to provide support for Idaho State. 

In 2003, Clancy and Velma’s children and grandchildren, along with their spouses, started an endowed scholarship at Idaho State University in their honor. It is now a family tradition that all family members subscribe to for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and any other special occasion, family members make a gift to the scholarships they have created at Idaho State University.

Velma passed away in 2005, and Clarence misses her greatly. He still enjoys traveling and in 2009 cruised across the Atlantic Ocean and northern Mediterranean Sea making stops in Portugal, Spain, Monaco and Greece. He also traveled across Italy, Austria, Germany and France.

The President's Medallion was established in 2001 to honor friends and alumni whose outstanding accomplishments and exemplary service and support bring distinction to the University and advance higher education.

William M. Kobus attended Idaho State University. Bill received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Idaho State University in 1981. He also received an Associate of Arts degree in business administration from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 1977, and a master degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma in 1986. Rosemary studied botany, flora and paleontology at Idaho State University. In January 2010 Bill concluded four years as interim director of the ISU Office of Alumni Relations.

"Bill Kobus has served this institution with distinction for a very many years. Even after he retired from a successful career with the U.S. Postal Service, we asked Bill to come back and help us out in the Alumni Office for a few months," Tingey said. "That help turned into a few years, for which we express deep appreciation to Bill and Rosemary for their sacrifice, unequaled commitment and support. In addition to their time and talents, they have been extremely generous to a variety of different programs at Idaho State University."

A retired senior executive with the U.S. Postal Service, Kobus was a postmaster/area manager in Pocatello, Boise, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is past president of the Idaho Retired Postmasters of the United States, and was honored in1985 with the Senior Executive U.S. Postal Service Special Achievement Award.

Bill is past board member and treasurer of the Teton Valley Health Care Foundation, and a past president of Idaho State University Alumni Association.

The Kobuses have four children, Judith, Michael, Christian and Matthew.

Bill and Rosemary currently reside in Idaho Falls after spending many years in the Teton Valley. The couple spent four months on a world cruise in 2009. ISU travelled with them in the form of a black and orange ISU pennant, which made appearances in locations worldwide.

The Kobuses support the proposed ISU Alumni and Visitor Center, the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center, the Alumni Board Memorial Scholarship, the Bengal Foundation, and ISU athletics. They also currently support students in Kenya and Ethiopia, and the International Children's Surgical Foundation.

Idaho Senator Robert L. Geddes grew up on a family wheat and barley farm in Franklin county. Upon graduating from Preston High School he attended Ricks College in Rexburg for a year prior to serving an LDS mission in Austria. After another year at Ricks College and receiving an associate degree in geology, Geddes transferred to Utah State University and completed a B.S. in geology.

"The overall and broad-based support for Idaho State University that has come from Senator Geddes has been immeasurable," Tingey said. "He has been, and continues to be, a dear friend to this institution and has worked relentlessly to help build not only legislative support, but support from a variety of constituents for the initiatives and strategic plans of Idaho State University. In particular, his work in helping to build the Meridian campus has been remarkable."

Upon graduation in March 1981, Geddes secured employment as a mine geologist at the Maybe Canyon Phosphate Mine near Soda Springs. In 1985 an opportunity to work at Monsanto presented itself and Bob has been employed there since. He has had the responsibility to manage several of the company’s highest profile environmental projects, including the plant’s superfund project and selenium efforts at the company’s historical mine sites.

In 1995, Geddes was appointed by Gov. Phil Batt to fill a vacancy in the Idaho State Senate. Of the nearly 16 years of service in the Senate, he served for two year as Majority Caucus Chairman and for the last 10 years as the President Pro Tempore, the highest-ranking leadership position in the Senate. He has now held the President Pro Tempore position longer than anyone in Idaho's history.

Geddes has been married to his college sweetheart Tammy for 32 years and together they have raised five children, most of whom have connections to Idaho State University. Robert and Tammy have six grandchildren, including a set of twins, with another set of twins on the way in March.

Bruce S. Bistline, an attorney with Gordon Law Offices in Boise, is a long-time supporter of ISU and has been an Idaho State University Foundation Board member since 2007. He is the chair of both the Foundation’s Development Committee and the Stephens Performing Arts Center sub-committee.

"Since Mr. Bistline joined the Idaho State University Foundation Board of Directors a couple of years ago, his insight, wisdom and assistance has been invaluable and his efforts in generating financial support for the University have been tireless," Tingey said. "Bruce's leadership of the development committee, which is involved in generating resources to support the University in its mission, has been extraordinary."

Bistline provided free legal counseling to students for the Associated Students of Idaho State University from 1976 to 1980. He volunteered to the ISU Outdoor Program as a kayak instructor for several years. He also married an ISU dental hygiene student, Susan Madison, in 1980.

Bruce was born in Denver, Colo., in 1951 to Roy and Barbara Bistline. He earned a degree from Colorado College in 1973 and graduated in the top 10 in his class with a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Idaho in 1976.

Bistline has practiced law at a variety of firms and companies since 1975, including a five-year period at Herzog Law Offices in Pocatello from 1975 to 1980. He was the Ada County Public Defender 1981-82, worked at the Bistline Law Office in Boise 1982-87, and did contract legal work and worked for Bistline Mediation Services from 1989 to 1997. He has been at Gordon Law Offices since 1997.

He is involved in a variety of community service activities and has been a board member of the Bistline Family Foundation, which supports the arts in Southeast Idaho. He has been a lobbyist for the Idaho Civil Liberties Union, founded and operated the Citizens Law School for the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association, and was a Legislative Committee Member of the Idaho Civil Liberties Union.

His hobbies include being a crew chief for the B-Line Racing Harley Drag Racing team. He enjoys hiking, yoga and fitness, fishing, kayaking and travel.

Homecoming Parade Marshall recognizes ISU faculty, staff or alumni who have made a significant impact on the ISU community and enjoy popularity among their colleagues and students. Dave Kragthorpe coached the Idaho State University football team from 1980-82, and he quickly took a team that had lost 19 straight football games, and just 19 games later had a conference championship on the way to the 1981 I-AA national title. Kragthorpe’s 1981 team went 12-1, starting 5-0 before beating their three playoff opponents by a combined score of 126-35 overall.

Kragthorpe was honored with an ISU Sports Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Kragthorpe eventually went on the earn Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors at Oregon State University, and he also served as the athletic director and in other administrative positions at Utah State University, his alma mater.

While attending Utah State, Kragthorpe was a two-time all-conference selection as a football lineman in 1953 and 1954. He was named to the University's all-century team in 1993. He played one year of professional football with the New York Giants after leaving USU. He has been inducted into the Utah State Athletic Hall of Fame and received USU's Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Kragthorpe and his wife, Barbara, have two children, Steve, previous head football coach at the University of Louisville, and Kurt, a sports writer and columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune.