The Idaho Legislature of 1893 created a normal school in name, but failed to appropriate state funds to provide it with a permanent home. As was typical of that era and the century that followed, the citizens of Lewiston responded with open hearts.
1893 - Lewiston State Normal School (LSNS)
1947 - Northern Idaho College of Education (NICE)
1955 - Lewis-Clark Normal School (LCNS)
1971 - Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC)
The City of Lewiston donated 10 acres on a barren, sandy hill overlooking its sparse business district from the south to serve as the school's embryo. Soon to bear the name of "Normal Hill" after the mission of its principal occupant, the hill had no city services, no luxury of lights, electricity or water. What it had, however, was potential.
Absent of state funding, the school finally received authority from the legislature to use some of its federal land-grant proceeds to hire an architectural firm from Spokane and begin designing its first building. Blueprints were expected to take form in a completed administration building/classroom by 1894... Again, ambition seemed to run a distance ahead of reality.
Proceeds from the land grant sales were slower than anticipated, a reflection of the stagnant economy. Fearing that its initial work would die a quiet and untimely death, the first construction company from Spokane abandoned the project. Excavation and foundation work turned dormant.
The vision failed to stagnate, however. In 1895, the legislature issued bonds to complete the first building on campus, and a new contractor was secured to pick up where its predecessor left off. Construction delays, common even around the turn of the century, tested the resolve of new LSNS President George Knepper to open the school he'd been hired to pioneer.
In the absence of a permanent home for his fledgling school, Knepper contacted local businessmen to arrange for private, temporary quarters on the second floor of a building in the heart of Lewiston's business district. With carpenters and masons laboring on the hill above them, 46 students assembled to become the first class of Lewiston State Normal School on January 6, 1896.
Almost six months later, with the sound of cannon fire echoing from the surrounding hills and a procession of townspeople and dignitaries, Lewiston State Normal School and the community of Lewiston celebrated the completion of its first building. The survivor of a disastrous 1917 fire, reconstruction, changes in function, and a major 1993 renovation, that building still stands -- the oldest one still used in the state's higher education system. Named after the man whose vision and relentless lobbying for a college in Lewiston, James W. Reid Centennial Hall now is the center for student services and contains model computer classrooms and labs, as well as offices and traditional classrooms.
The primary mission of the new college was to prepare teachers for serving in the region's many one-room, rural schools. Growth, in terms of students and programs, continued steadily, prompting the Idaho State Board of Education to expand the college's role in 1943 to a four-year institution. At the same time it authorized the awarding of the bachelor of arts degree in education. Reflecting that expanded function, the state legislature changed the institution's name to Northern Idaho College of Education in 1947.
Concern over enrollments and Idaho finances following the outbreak of the Korean War, mixed with political maneuvering, led to the closure of NICE and Southern Idaho College of Education at Albion in 1951. The legislature reopened the Lewiston college in 1955 under the new name of Lewis-Clark Normal School. However, its southern Idaho sibling remained closed permanently. After reopening, LCNS operated as a branch of the University of Idaho, still holding to the charge of preparing elementary school teachers. In 1963, the legislature restored the college's autonomy and returned its status as an independent, four-year undergraduate institution with a unique niche in the state's higher education system.
Idaho law defined the purposes of Lewis-Clark Normal School to be the "offering and giving of instruction in four-year courses in science, arts and literature, and such courses as are normally included in liberal arts colleges leading to the granting of the degree of bachelor."
The State Board of Education approved a four-year curriculum in education and liberal arts and established Lewis-Clark State College as one of its six postsecondary vocational schools in 1965. The practical and associate degree nursing programs were instituted the same year. In 1971, the legislature changed the name of the college to Lewis-Clark State College, reflecting its expanded mission and maintaining its historical roots based on the expedition by Lewis and Clark. At the time of its latest name transition, the college held the distinction of being the last "Normal" college in the nation.
LCSC received regional accreditation as a four-year degree-granting institution in 1973 and was re-accredited for a 10-year period in 1978, 1988, 1999 and 2009. It had been accredited as a two-year college from the time it was separated from the University of Idaho.
The State Board of Education reaffirmed the role of Lewis-Clark State College in October 1973, with a continued emphasis on serving undergraduate students in the areas of liberal arts, sciences and education, and providing a strong vocational-technical program. The board revised the role in March 1983 to add responsibilities as a regional undergraduate institution offering an alternative learning environment to site- and time-bound students throughout the region.
LCSC is a regional state college with a mission to prepare students to become successful leaders, engaged citizens and lifelong learners. Its core themes (opportunity, success and partnerships) are manifested in traditional academic and career and technical programs, in comprehensive student services, and through community enrichment programs.
The college’s undergraduate instructional programs offer a wide range of academic and professional programs leading to baccalaureate and associate degrees. LCSC’s programs emphasize the liberal arts and sciences, business, justice studies, nursing, social work, teacher preparation, and career and technical education. Other emphasis areas are the provision of select programs offered on and off campus, at non-traditional times, using non-traditional means of delivery, to serve a diverse student body. The institution also conducts selected research studies and provides a variety of life-long learning opportunities through its continuing education programs. LCSC works in collaboration with other state and regional postsecondary institutions to serve its diverse constituencies: students, business and industry, the professions, public sector groups, and special constituencies within the region and throughout the state.