Kevin Satterlee

New University President’s Unexpected Journey

Ali Hardy | Photo courtesy of Idaho State University Jan 9, 2019

A lifelong Idahoan and former attorney, Idaho State University’s newest president describes his career path thus far as an unexpected journey. From his hometown in the Idaho Panhandle to his current position in Pocatello, Kevin Satterlee goes wherever he is most needed.

Prior to his appointment as the university’s 13th president, Satterlee was Boise State University’s chief operating officer, special counsel and vice president. Despite his résumé, a career in education was not his original plan.

From Lawyer to Educator

After earning his Juris Doctor degree, Satterlee thought he would become a litigator, practicing corporate law. After spending a few years as a private practice attorney, he joined the Idaho attorney general’s office, where he describes his work as “mission-driven and very rewarding.”

A few years later, the attorney general’s chief of staff approached him about taking a new role as lead attorney for the Idaho State Board of Education. Initially, Satterlee hesitated to accept the position. But during this first introduction to education law work, his passion for Idaho’s education system took root. “That was when I realized the true impact of education, that it sets the stage for the future of our society.”

His passion for education has grown even stronger since then, and although he describes the journey as an unexpected one, he knows he’s in the right place. “Universities have the ability to change people’s lives,” Satterlee says. “That is the job of everyone who works here — and I am very excited about the impact that we can have.”

These days he is much more likely to be in a classroom than a courtroom, and he wouldn’t change that. “Working in education is not a job — it’s a calling.”

Small-town Roots

Growing up in the town of Priest River in North Idaho, Satterlee was deeply influenced by the waterways and wild places of the Gem State. “It was a great place to grow up,” he says. He describes his childhood as one spent mostly outdoors, exploring Idaho’s natural wonders.

His small-town upbringing also taught him important values. “When you grow up in a small town where everyone knows everyone, you learn to treat people right,” he says.

His most important relationships are with his family. Satterlee and his wife, Margaret, have been married for nearly 28 years and have three children: Andrew, 25, Ben, 21, and Kate, 13. If he has spare time, he likes to spend it with them. A family night in the Satterlee household often consists of baking a batch of cookies together and enjoying them while playing cards or board games.

If he’s not at work or at home, he’s on the water — swimming, boating or fishing. His love for the Idaho outdoors has never left him.

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