Dr. Bob Kustra has led a transformation that has turned our riverside campus in downtown Boise into a metropolitan research university of distinction. In 2016, Boise State was designated a doctoral research university in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education — a goal of Dr. Kustra’s since his first year on campus.
Harnessing the creativity and can-do attitude that Boise State has famously exhibited on its Blue Turf and in Fiesta Bowl wins against Oklahoma, Arizona and TCU, Dr. Kustra challenged our campus community to reimagine and reinvent the higher education experience to prepare future innovators and leaders to boost the region’s future in economics, science and the arts and humanities. He guided Boise State into a student-centered university utilizing experiential learning and the kind of applied research that helps our faculty, students and industry partners solve real-life problems.
Since Dr. Kustra became president in 2003, the university has grown to more than 22,000 students with nearly 4,000 graduates each year. Boise State now confers more than 46 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded by Idaho public colleges and universities.
While the majority of our students hail from Idaho, Boise State continues to attract more students from around the country and the world. Our incoming freshmen are better prepared and more likely to graduate on time and on budget than ever before.
Our metropolitan research campus has expanded considerably in Dr. Kustra’s tenure. After a 10-year, $300 million capital effort, the university now boasts state-of-the art multidisciplinary buildings, high-tech classrooms, clean rooms and laboratories, and cutting-edge facilities for the arts, business and economics, engineering, science, public policy and more.
The university has more than doubled its graduate offerings and has become the fastest-growing research enterprise in Idaho. Dr. Kustra has worked to improve the undergraduate experience and nurture a vibrant campus life. And through it all, Boise State tuition has remained among the lowest of public universities in the country.
From 2007 to 2011, Dr. Kustra led Boise State’s first comprehensive campaign — Destination Distinction, which raised more than $10 million over its $175 million goal. A recent scholarship campaign outpaced its $25 million goal more than a year early. And in 2015, Boise State announced its largest philanthropic gift in university history — a $25 million donation from the Micron Foundation to help build a Center for Materials Research.
Before coming to Idaho, Dr. Kustra had a long and distinguished career in public service in Illinois, serving two terms as lieutenant governor, and 10 years in the Illinois legislature, where he served in leadership. He chaired the Illinois Board of Higher Education, responsible for funding and oversight of the state’s nine public universities.
He served as president of the Midwestern Higher Education Commission and of Eastern Kentucky University. He has held faculty positions at Northwestern University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago and the University of Illinois- Springfield.
Dr. Kustra previously served as a member of the NCAA Division I board of directors and is currently a member of the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors. He also served as a Commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. In 2007, he was inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame and was named the Most Influential Person in the Boise valley by The Idaho Statesman.
Each week, Dr. Kustra features lively conversations with some of the nation’s leading authors about issues and ideas that matter today on his radio show, Reader’s Corner with Bob Kustra, which airs weekly on Boise State’s NPR station.
Dr. Kustra holds degrees from Benedictine College and Southern Illinois University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He and his wife, Kathy, have two grown children, four grandchildren, and treasure the memory of their son, Steve.