On Wednesday, (April 22), College of Western Idaho (CWI) Board of Trustees approved entering into an agreement to purchase approximately 10 acres of land at 3150 W. Main St. which is located at the intersection of Main and Whitewater Park Blvd. adjacent to the Boise River. The site which was previously the home of the Bob Rice Ford car dealership is planned for future development of programs to support the educational needs of the surrounding communities.
Since its first class offering in January 2009, College of Western Idaho’s enrollment has skyrocketed. This fall 10,217 credit students and an additional 10,480 non-credit program students enrolled across the College’s campuses in Nampa and Boise, community locations, and online. This record enrollment included more than 7,000 students attending classes at various leased Ada County locations including the current Ada County Campus at Overland and Maple Grove in Boise.
CWI is forming a steering committee and will look to engage the community and surrounding neighbors as part of the planning discussions scheduled later this year. The intent is that the new site will enable the College to move from existing leased locations and expand the programs offered including, general academic transfer programs, business, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and expand its workforce and technical education programs.
“We are excited to find a location that supports our student community as well as the businesses seeking a trained and well educated workforce,” said Mary Niland, board president. “From the beginning, CWI has made a promise to our community to offer affordable access to higher education and training. We are keeping that promise through investment in our young people and the future of the western Idaho region.”
College locations in Ada and Canyon County have consisted of leased, shared, and a few owned buildings that have provided short-term solutions in meeting the current educational demand of western Idaho. To help address the growing needs of the community and space shortage, CWI has leased buildings to provide needed classroom and services space ; however, even with this unsatisfactory, stop-gap solution, students still face challenges scheduling classes and accessing support services without traveling around the valley. Additionally, the cost for leasing space continues to increase and with the improving economy, costs are going higher, which does not support a long term and stable campus environment for students attending CWI.
“This land will ensure that we continue to meet the growing demand for education in Idaho,” said CWI President Bert Glandon. “Completion of degree or certificate credentials is critical to narrowing the skills gap that many of our state’s employers are facing. Higher education is the key to a strong economy; and as your community college, we intend to continue to work closely with employers to ensure they have a locally skilled workforce to hire.”
“CWI’s involvement in this site will bring an extraordinary and transformative energy to downtown’s West End,” said Boise Mayor David H. Bieter. “Thousands of students, faculty and staff members will be coming into downtown daily. They will be living, working, dining, shopping and recreating -- spurring a new round-the-clock vibrancy that will help knit together our expanding vision of downtown’s footprint and its long-term potential. The opportunities are breath-taking and are an exciting validation of the more than $20 million of public and private investments in parks, streets and other services and amenities in the West End in recent years.”
“We are pleased to know that the land which was home to our family’s business for so many years, will now provide a legacy dedicated to the educational success of people in our community,” said Fred Rice, son of Bob Rice.
CWI is filling an important role in helping Idaho residents’ access higher education and has already built a reputation for bridging educational gaps through its strong partnerships with Idaho’s high schools, universities and the growing business community.
The College of Western Idaho is a public, open-access, and comprehensive community college committed to providing affordable access to quality teaching and learning opportunities to the residents of its service area in western Idaho. CWI has seven campus locations throughout Southwest Idaho providing higher education and 21st Century technical skills acquisition. The college is dedicated to improving the community’s economic well-being by responding with highly-educated and productive graduates. The foundation for the area’s only community college was created by a supermajority of voters in Ada and Canyon counties on May 22, 2007. For more information about the college, visit www.cwidaho.cc or call (208) 562-3000.