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Idaho State Distinguished Teacher and Researcher Honored with Legacy Endowment

April 25, 2022

Head shot of James Aho.

Idaho State University distinguished teacher and researcher, Dr. Jim Aho, was honored with a legacy endowment in his name. 

Friends, family, and those who love Aho came together to raise the funds for the Jim Aho Scholarship Endowment fund. This establishes a scholarship that will be awarded every year and will grow as more funds are added. Endowments such as this are a way attract and recruit outstanding students and faculty to the campus community while honoring the legacy of those who have been most impactful to the college. 
Aho came to Idaho State to teach sociology in 1969, and became a full professor in 1982. During his time at ISU he taught nearly 240 classes, primarily teaching in the areas of religion, violence, social phenomenology, and the body. He was named an Idaho State University Master Teacher in 2006 and a Distinguished Teacher in 2009. 
Current political science department chair Dr. Mark McBeth remembers meeting Dr. Aho in 1985. McBeth was a transfer student from CSI looking to major in sociology. His first day on campus he remembers walking into Aho’s office. 
“My initial impressions upon meeting him were that Jim had a wonderful full beard and he
looked very much like a social theorist,” McBeth said. “I was a bit intimidated because this was a ‘real professor’ at a university but I also remember from that day that Jim was
approachable, friendly, and was easy to talk to.”
McBeth said that day in 1985 was one of the most important in his life. The first class that he took from Aho was Classic Sociological Theory, and his notebook with all his lecture notes, handouts, and exams is still a treasured possession. 
In addition to the many student lives Aho impacted, he was also a prolific researcher and writer. In 1993, he was an Idaho State University Distinguished Researcher, and the next year he won the Gustavus Myers Award for Best Study of Human Rights. In 1996, he won the Pacific Sociological Association Book Award. In total he has published 10 books and numerous articles.
Aho was the foremost expert on hate groups in Idaho in the 1990s and early 2000s. He was interviewed and featured on numerous television and radio broadcasts and newspapers.
Since his retirement in 2010, Aho has continued to write and research. As an Emeriti faculty member, he has also remained a presence on campus and an example of academic excellence. For the last 11 years he has started every morning at Reed Gym before going to his office in the Kegel Liberal Arts building to research, write, and act as a mentor to those in the department. The door to his office has always been open both figuratively and literally.   
When he is not writing and researching, Aho enjoys outdoor activities including skiing, jogging, and backpacking with his family. He met his wife, Margaret, a published poet, while getting his master’s and doctoral degrees at Washington State University. Together they raised three sons who all received undergraduate degrees at ISU before following in their father’s footsteps to become professors. 
For more information about the Jim Aho Scholarship Endowment Fund, please contact Sonia Gomez, Director of Development, at 208-373-1989, soniagomez@isu.edu. 


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