Monday, November 26, 2018

Idaho State University President Miles Reed [otd 11/26]

President Reed.
Idaho State University photo.
Miles F. Reed, president of the Academy of Idaho, precursor to Idaho State University, was born November 26, 1872 about 20 miles south of Dubuque, Iowa. Reed’s parents moved to Idaho in 1889 and he attended high school at an academy in Grangeville.

After his graduation in 1892, Reed taught in Idaho’s rural schools for a time. From 1891 to 1897, Miles also served in the Idaho National Guard, rising from a Private to the rank of First Lieutenant. He left the regiment when he enrolled at the University of Idaho, and therefore did not see action in the Philippines the following year.

He graduated in 1901 with a Bachelor of Science degree and immediately found a job at the Lewiston State Normal School. After just a year there, he returned to the University to head their Preparatory School and serve as an instructor in education.
Academy of Idaho, ca. 1910. USGenWeb project photo.

In 1902, the state authorized the formation of the Academy of Idaho in Pocatello [blog, Mar 11]. It’s first president – initially called the Principal – was John W. Faris, who had been Superintendent of Pocatello schools for a time. Like most other Idaho colleges, the Academy had to run a prep school for a number of years. Even so, Faris moved aggressively to enhance the college-level curriculum. He also initiated a summer institute for working teachers along with standard summer classes.

Faris resigned in 1907. His expansionist approach had led to much criticism from those who saw a strictly limited role for the school. The continuing need for preparatory classes played a role in the selection of Miles Reed to replace Faris. (Also in 1907, Reed received a Master’s degree from Columbia University.)

If the board expected a more modest approach from their new president, they were sorely disappointed. Reed knew from first-hand experience that the state desperately needed more qualified pre-college teachers. In short supply to begin with, the meager salaries paid meant that turn-over was a constant problem.

Thus, Reed expanded the summer institute Faris had begun and took action to further address the critical teacher shortage. In this latter aim, he incurred the enmity of officials at Albion State Normal School. Reed also wanted to make the Academy a full-fledged college, able to offer bachelor’s degrees. That campaign led only to a new name: the Idaho Technical Institute (ITI).

Although supporters had failed in their bid to be designated a “college,” they had escaped the limited expectations implied by the “Academy” label. Students and citizens in Pocatello responded with “the biggest celebration in the history of the city.” (Reported in the Idaho Statesman, March 18, 1915.) There was also a program of speeches, which culminated with the “presentation of a gold watch to President Miles F. Reed in appreciation of the fight he made for the school.”
Reed Gym. ISU photo.

In 1904, while working at the University, Reed served as President of the Idaho State Teachers’ Association. A year after he moved to the Pocatello school, he became Chairman of the Educational Council of Idaho.

Reed died of a heart attack in November 1918. His dream of full college status for the Academy/Institute was not realized until 1947. It received university status in 1963. Today, Reed Gymnasium, a sports pavilion and student recreation center, commemorates his role in the history of ISU.
References: [French]
Diane Olson, Idaho State University: A Centennial Chronicle, Idaho State University, Pocatello (2000).

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