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College of Arts and Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences

Boise State University’s largest academic division, the College of Arts and Science (COAS), encompasses a broad range of “liberal arts education and research.

Foundation

Some of the educational programs within COAS formed the very first curricula at Boise Junior College. Of the eleven courses offered the first semester at Boise Junior College all but one were arts or science:

  • English
  • Spanish, French, German or Latin
  • Contemporary Civilization
  • History
  • Mathematics, Chemistry
  • History of Art
  • Physical Training

At the start, almost all BJC education was preparatory for a student to transfer to 4-year degree programs. As the student population grew, the curricula was divided into two types: Lower Division Curricula and Semi-Professional Curricula. All arts and sciences were in the Lower Division, while vocational education programs were Semi-Professional. In the 1940s, arts and sciences degrees included Art, Music, or a general degree called Junior College A.B and B.S. Nevertheless, almost all students were required to take courses in English, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Life or Earth Sciences.

Divisions, Schools, and Colleges

BJC became a 4-year institution in 1965 (Boise College). That year, college academic departments were split into divisions: Business & Economics, Humanities, Life Science, Physical Science, Social Science, and Vocational-Technical Education. These divisions only lasted a few years, in 1968 academic departments were restructured into Schools as part of the transition to Boise State College. The School of Arts and Sciences was formed in 1968 with Dr. Joseph Spulnik as the first Dean. Under the School of Arts and Sciences were two divisions: Arts and Letters, chaired by Dr. William E. Shankweiler, and the Division of Science and Health, chaired by Dr. Donald J. Obee.

Deans

Dr. Joseph Spulnik, 1968-1976
Dr. William J. Keppler, 1976-1986
Dr. Monte D. Wilson (Acting), 1986-1987
Dr. Daryl Jones, 1987-1992
Dr. Phillip M. Eastman (Interim), 1992-1994
Dr. Phillip M. Eastman, 1994-2006
Dr. Martin Schimpf (Interim) 2006-2007
Dr. Martin Schimpf, 2007-2012
Dr. Tony Roark (Interim), 2012-2013
Dr. Tony Roark, 2013-2018
Dr. Leslie Durham (Interim), 2018-

Physical Space

One of the first tasks for Keppler was oversight of the move of many departments into the newly built Science and Education Complex. At that time, the School of Arts and Sciences included fifteen departments and employed over 200 faculty members. While the science departments made use of their new building, the Music, Theatre and other arts programs struggled with outdated and cramped spaces. The Harry W. Morrison Family Foundation, led by Velma Morrison, spearheaded the development of a new performing arts center with a $3.5 million commitment in 1979. That gift led to the construction of the Morrison Center, completed in 1984. COAS departments were the impetus for many other buildings on campus, including the Hemingway Center (1941), Math-Geosciences (1955), Liberal Arts Building (1966), Multi-Purpose Building (1997), and Environmental Research Building (2011).

Research Units and Activities

This college has created many different types of research centers and projects, some of which include:

  • Biomolecular Research Center
  • Center for Geophysical Investigation of the Shallow Subsurface
  • Geospatial Research Facility
  • Hemingway Western Studies Center
  • Intermountain Bird Observatory
  • Raptor Research Center
  • cold-drill (literary and arts journal)
  • Western Writers Series

Sources:
College of Arts and Sciences
University Catalogs
University Records, RG 510, College of Arts and Sciences

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