He's remembered as the right man at the right time for the big job of founding the College of Southern Idaho. One of the characteristics that made Dr. James L. Taylor good at what he did was knowing about everyone in town. 'Doc' Taylor, as he was called, built support for CSI constantly, meeting and talking with people in coffee shops and on downtown streets, speaking at clubs and service organizations, and even taking evening and weekend phone calls at his house, as his children remember. Doc seemed to relish the huge task of building support for the new junior college taxing district in Twin Falls and Jerome Counties, not to mention the many details associated with establishing and staffing the new college. He put his native Oklahoma drawl and southern charm to good use, amassing critical support and valuable partnerships that took CSI from evening classes in Twin Falls High School to a beautiful and growing 215-acre campus. He became one of the best known visitors at the Idaho Statehouse during the 60s and 70s, advocating for CSI and community college education in general and usually succeeding in winning necessary support from Idaho lawmakers. His death in 1982 at the age of 58 caused all who knew him to believe he was gone too soon. Doc Taylor's dedication and vision brought higher education and training opportunities to southern Idahoans at their 'own' college.
Dr. Gerald R. Meyerhoeffer was among the first of Doc Taylor's hires in 1966 after having been a teacher and coach in Buhl for several years before completing graduate school at Washington State University. 'Jerry,' as everyone knows him, began his CSI career as a vocational counselor and assistant CSI basketball coach, first under head coach Eddie Sutton and then under Jerry Hale. Upon being chosen as president in 1982 after 'Doc' Taylor's death, President Meyerhoeffer's background in coaching and counseling were often evident among staff and students. His door was always open, literally. Employees, students, and community members were drawn in for 'chitty chats' as he liked calling them. His boundless energy and can-do spirit kept CSI growing and garnering local and state support, as well as national recognition as one of the country's finest community colleges. President Meyerhoeffer took his predecessor's economic development dreams to new levels, building and fostering relationships with southern Idaho's business community that endure today. He is CSI's longest-serving president to date, the campus, its programs and student body growing impressively under his guidance. Since his retirement in 2005, he has remained active in the community and a frequent visitor to the campus he loves and supports.
Dr. Gerald L. Beck became CSI's president in 2005 at what could be called an 'interesting' time. State support for the college was strong and student enrollment was making CSI Idaho's fastest-growing institution of higher learning. Within just a few years, however, CSI would be dealing with declining state funding even as enrollments continued to climb for a short while as a result of the worsening national recession. President Beck and his administrative team had to work even smarter and leaner. His life experiences had prepared him well for the challenge. A late-bloomer to higher education, Jerry was a motorcycle dealer in his hometown of Mountain Home, Idaho. Not only did he sell motorcycles, he repaired and even raced them professionally for a short time before coming to CSI in 1975 to head up the Recreational Vehicle and Small Engine Repair program. He earned virtually all of his higher education, including his doctorate, over the next 30 years at the same time he was a CSI instructor, Trade and Industry Programs Coordinator, Dean of Continuing Education, and Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer. Dr. Beck proved equal to the task of leading CSI through some of its most challenging times, as he helped the college continue to grow vital programs and economic development partnerships.
Curtis Eaton was appointed as CSI's Interim President in July of 2013 as President Gerald Beck stepped down from his position that summer to take care of some pressing medical needs he had at that time. Having been a prominent local attorney and banker before joining the College of Southern Idaho in 2001, Eaton oversaw the continued growth of the CSI Foundation for the next eleven years, also becoming Vice President of Student Services, Planning and Development before being named Special Assistant to the President. As Interim President, Eaton maintained CSI's strong academic, technical, and economic development missions throughout the latter half of 2013 as a national search was conducted by the Association for Community College Trustees for a new president. He continues to be actively involved with the CSI Foundation and with the present administration.
Following an exhaustive search of candidates from coast to coast, it was determined that the person best suited to lead the College of Southern Idaho forward was right here on campus. Dr. Jeff Fox was chosen in late 2013 to begin his presidency in January of 2014. At that time, Dr. Fox was serving as CSI's Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer. He started his CSI career in 1987 as an associate professor of English. From 1987 to 2000, he taught a variety of courses including literature, humanities, composition, and Japanese language. He had directed CSI's Academic Development Center and was appointed Chair of the English, Languages, and Philosophy Department. Under his guidance and with the help of his administrative team, the College of Southern Idaho's legacy remains strong as it is undergoing a number of changes that are designed to address the needs of today's students and ensure the school's future success.