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Idaho State University students to capture Bengal experience in book

August 24, 2016

POCATELLO — What was it like to be a Bengal in the 1950s, 60s or 70s? How has the student experience evolved over the years? How has Idaho State University changed?

Those are a few of the questions ISU students will explore in a fall honors class called “The ISU Book Project,” which will require students to write a book about ISU instead of completing a final exam.

The class—the brainchild of Associate Professor of Management Alex Bolinger—is a collaboration between the Masters of Business Administration program in the College of Business, the University Honors Program, and the Special Collections archives at Eli Oboler Library.

“What we are interested in capturing is the student experience. What did that experience look like from the perspective of a student attending the Academy of Idaho or the Idaho Technical Institute,” said Bolinger, noting two of the early names of ISU, which turns 115 years old this year.

The ISU book, tentatively titled “The ISU Experience,” will be published as part of the “Campus History” series by Arcadia Publishing. Arcadia, a leading publisher of regional histories in the United States, published a book that Bolinger’s students wrote last year about the history of Garrett Freightlines. Consisting of 128 pages anchored by vintage photographs, that book has sold more than 200 copies since its publication this summer.

For the ISU book, Bolinger’s students will focus on historical photos and archived documents from the first eight decades of ISU’s existence. “We’d like to interview alumni from the 60s, 70s and earlier or talk to people who had parents and grandparents at ISU and passed those stories down,” Bolinger said.

The students in Bolinger’s class have a busy fall semester ahead of them. They’ll tour university landmarks, interview alumni, and peruse the archives in Oboler Library with the help of the head of ISU’s Special Collections department, Ellen Ryan. In September, they’ll have the opportunity to interview ISU alumni who return to campus for homecoming activities.

At the end of the semester, the students will host a community event to celebrate completion of the book’s final draft and to tell the story of ISU through the photos and documents they find. The final draft of the book is due to the publisher by Nov. 15 and Bolinger anticipates that final copies will be available for purchase from Arcadia Publishing by late spring or early summer.

“In addition to learning about what it takes to work together in teams on a long-term creative project, students will be able to add the credential of ‘published co-author’ to their resumes,” said Bolinger.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or have stories and photos to share about ISU, contact Bolinger at or (208) 282-6242.