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President’s Letter to Friends of Boise State

Why Fine Arts Must Be a Top Priority for Boise State

The arts and humanities are vital and crucial to the success of our city, state and region now more than ever before. For a decade, the university has focused on boosting the science, technology, engineering and math degrees urgently needed to drive our high-tech economy into the future. Yet, we’ve never lost sight of the major advantages offered by the liberal arts or a fine arts education, nor the steps we must take to enable it — including a Fine Arts Building that will be a nationally and internationally recognized center for arts education.

Today, nearly 4,000 students take courses through Boise State’s acclaimed Department of Art. They are learning from some of Idaho’s most acclaimed artists, as well as renowned visiting artists, honing their skill and their eye through painting, sculpture, graphic design, video and much more.

Boise State aims to inspire and prepare students who want to make their career in the arts as much as those who aspire to careers in fields such as molecular biology or computer science. The study of fine art — and developing an interest in the arts — is advantageous for everyone, regardless of their chosen field. Research shows that students in a high-tech track who also focus their studies in the arts and humanities will be better at their jobs, and employers find them more desirable due to their creative abilities in solving complex problems.

Perhaps the best example of the contribution arts education makes to advances in technology comes from the education of Steve Jobs. His biographer, Walter Isaacson, tells us that it was a calligraphy class that Steve Jobs took as an undergraduate that later would produce the design, elegance and human touches of Apple products we all enjoy today. With Boise State’s STEM focus and the Center for Fine Arts, we will position our students to meet at this intersection of the arts and technology where anything is possible, as it was for Steve Jobs. Providing our students and faculty with the space they need to work together across disciplines is the key to enabling creativity and innovation within and across disciplines.Not only will the Fine Arts Building provide space for the study and practice of the fine arts, it will also be a place for everyone to come for new experiences with art.

We’ll welcome all to a World Museum where visitors can be a part of something new — a high-tech and interactive space that will employ the latest virtual reality technology developed right here on campus. In an immersive, virtual experience, imagine touring the Louvre in Paris, France; the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain — all in one day. Imagine students taking a virtual tour of Michelangelo’s Pieta as though they were in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Here, technology will truly intersect with the arts, and the experience we can provide to students of all ages will be richer for it. The more faculty and students from our art department (as well as other partners from all across campus) consider the possibilities in a space like this, the more we realize we can deliver new artistic, teaching and experiential opportunities that our community would love to have.

Just like other notable arts projects in the community, this building and what it will do for the arts at Boise State and in the region is dependent upon philanthropy and generous leaders stepping forward. The state of Idaho has dedicated $5 million toward the facility. The university is looking to the generosity and vision of our friends, alumni and supporters to bring the project to fruition. I look forward to partnering with generous leaders who share our enthusiasm for the arts and all they bring to our culture and society, and I invite you to contact Boise State to discuss how you can help us have a lasting impact on our arts community.

Thanks for all you do for Boise State and its students!

President Bob Kustra

Look to Boise State Students for Reassurance of a Bright Future

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with 16 randomly-chosen, first-year students who I asked to have lunch to discuss their first few months here at Boise State. Plain and simple, I want to hear from our students early in their experience so we can take corrective action where necessary.

I think it’s fair to say we covered considerable ground in reviewing their initial impressions of Boise State. First, we asked them why they chose Boise State and if their expectations were fulfilled in their relatively short time here. They were effusive in their positive comments about what a great experience they were having. They singled out faculty as caring, compassionate and in command of their disciplines both in and out of the classroom.

Students also sung the praises of our staff as people who come to work caring about students and willing to help when needed. Our residential staff received high marks and our Living and Learning Communities were “curve busters” in terms of the positive reactions from residents. We asked the students to comment specifically on the campus climate, on how they felt they were treated by our campus community in general. Once again, they were uniformly positive in commenting on the respect they felt from faculty, staff and fellow students.

None of the improvements that we have been able to make in recent years in student support and campus life would have been possible with the generous support for all our endeavors from you, our alumni and friends. It is heartening to be able to share these positive student experiences with you, as thanks for your continued support.

I hope his message reminds all of us that we have created something very special here at Boise State, with your help. As valued members of a civil community, our Boise State faculty, staff and students strive each day to be the definition of civility, respect, academic integrity and expertise; all of which should reassure us when we want to look toward a bright future.

Of course, I can’t help thinking about the contentious and difficult campaign season that we have all just lived through. Many years ago, Speaker Tip O’Neill declared that “all politics is local.” Perhaps that is a reminder that can work for us here on the Boise State campus as we reflect and celebrate a culture and a community worthy of modeling for our great nation.

Thanks for all you do for Boise State and its students!

President Bob Kustra

We’re Educating More Students Than Ever Before

I am excited to share with you that this fall Boise State University saw its highest enrollment growth in several years.

We are educating more than 1,773 additional students than last year. Our new student body of 23,886 is our highest enrollment ever and an 8 percent increase over last year’s total number.

Our first-time degree-seeking students (those traditional “freshmen,” most from the ranks of this year’s high school graduating classes) are also setting a Boise State record. We are welcoming 13.7 percent more Idaho students in this class and nearly 20 percent more out-of-state students.

At a time when many public universities are struggling to grow or even maintain student numbers, you may ask what makes Boise State so successful? I believe it has been our targeted and strategic efforts to meet student and community needs.

We have developed new undergraduate and graduate degree programs that are quickly in high demand. We have spent years expanding campus infrastructure and building a robust student experience that students can’t wait to share with their friends. The growing reputation of our academic programming and the excellence of our faculty are reaching families across Idaho and the country, and students are finding an academic and research home here on our campus.

Success like this comes from multiple concurrent efforts. We launched the “True Blue Promise” scholarship program that offers Idaho students who show both need and merit up to $8,000 over four years, as well as an overall scholarship campaign that recently surpassed $40 million raised by Boise State donors. We have built upon Idaho’s new “direct enrollment” program, which automatically accepted some 10,000 qualified high school graduates into Boise State and all other state colleges and universities, as well as the state’s enhanced “application week” efforts to help more Idaho students take those first often intimidating steps toward applying for college.

Our incoming students continue to be better prepared for the rigors of university life, but it is important for us to provide ongoing support so they can reach their goals on-time and on-budget. Our first-year student retention rate has grown to 78 percent — well above the national average and higher than the average for our public four-year university peers.

While we celebrate this affirmation of our efforts, we know we have work to do. We must continually innovate in the classroom and beyond. The needs of tomorrow’s students must always keep us engaged and creative. We must continue to grow research opportunities and enhance academic excellence. We must create valuable chances for students from across Idaho and beyond to benefit intellectually and financially from a college education.

As always, we will need your help to continue our trajectory, so please remain engaged as leaders and alumni and friends. Our success must always be a spur to new efforts and not an excuse to rest on our laurels.

Thank you and Go Broncos!

Reflections on Fiesta Bowl 2007

As we look forward to welcoming members of Boise State’s winning Fiesta Bowl ’07 team back on the Blue this weekend, I thought it appropriate to reflect on what that winning game has meant to our university.

I recall being on the field prior to the game, along with the University of Oklahoma president, who had been there before and was, appropriately I suppose, not that impressed. But I know I speak for all Broncos in attendance, we were agog at the crowd, the stadium, at the game soon to get under way.

At the time, I really couldn’t grasp what that one game could mean for the future of our university. At its conclusion, of course, I realized that we had just witnessed one of the all-time great football games in college history. And, most importantly, our Broncos won as the classic underdogs and introduced Boise State to the nation.

To sum it up, the 2007 Fiesta Bowl win put Boise State University on the map. To this day, I hear about the impact that game had on students’ decisions to attend Boise State, on new faculty and their decision to join us, on donors and their belief in our future.

Why? Because the game exemplified who we are as a university. We’re not stuck in the past. We don’t tailor our goals to the expectations of others. We find unique and creative ways to win, not just on the field but in all we do at Boise State. We innovate. We use building blocks to build our future one year at a time —  this year we have another increase in first-year students attending Boise State.

In athletics there is a long line of talented leadership that brought us to that game. From the revered Coach Lyle Smith to the great Chris Petersen, there were so many who prepared us for that night. And that includes the outstanding offensive coordinator of that win –– our Boise State alumnus and head football coach Bryan Harsin.

But the same goes for the leadership and support of faculty and staff over the years who took advantage of that night and recruited the finest colleagues and the very best students to increase the academic quality of the university.

As I watched the filmed history of Boise State that will soon be on display at our new Alumni andFriends Center, I was humbled to be reminded of the hard work that came before us and gave us the foundation on which to build the future.

Finally, as Coach Petersen said on the winner’s stand post-game as he hoisted the gold football high over his head, “This is for Bronco Nation.” And so it is today in everything we accomplish. Their support means everything.

So please join us Saturday night to enjoy this 10-year celebration on the Blue. The players who will be recognized at halftime worked their hearts out to be ready for that game and showed the nation what we were all about in their determination to win. They deserve our thanks and applause.

Go Broncos!

Your New Campus Home

It is Homecoming Week here at Boise State University and this year the celebration is extra special. For the first time, we will have a fitting campus home for our alumni and friends.

The Alumni and Friends Center has been built for you. We hope you see it as your new welcoming campus space for fellowship, friendship, special moments and, of course, for football season. Even during construction we have held Bronco Bash tailgate parties before home games — they are a great way to relax, visit and prepare for cheering on your Boise State Broncos.

The 40,000 square-foot building was built entirely from charitable gifts — thanks to the generosity of so many of you. It will showcase Boise State history and provide a beautiful new ballroom, conference space and casual gathering areas for some of our most special events.

The grand opening on Saturday culminates many years of hard work by our Alumni Association leaders — Vice President for Advancement Laura C. Simic, our Executive Director of Planned Giving Jennifer Neil, and many, many others — but most especially the inspiring forces behind the center’s culmination, Allen and Dixie Dykman.

Allen and Dixie are among Boise State University’s strongest supporters and friends to so many of us who hold Boise State dear. Beyond their support and inspiration for this new facility, they have left indelible marks throughout campus, and their contributions and leadership will affect Boise State University graduates and Idaho leaders for generations to come.

Allen has volunteered his time on key search committees for Boise State. He co-chaired Boise State’s first comprehensive campaign, Designation Distinction, which raised more than $185 million and jump-started the recent growth that has propelled Boise State to the national and international stage as a metropolitan doctoral research university.

The Dykman Financial Trading Room in the Micron Business and Economics Building is one of the most impressive and visually striking learning spaces on campus. Here, stock tickers, sophisticated computer monitoring services and other high-tech business tools train our business students in the latest ways to understand international trading and stock markets.

A 1974 graduate in economics, Allen is the only person to have served as president of the Bronco Athletic Association, the Alumni Association and the Boise State Foundation. I was proud in May of 2012 to bestow on him an honorary doctorate degree for his work building the city of Boise and Boise State University into who we are today.

I hope you will join me in thanking Allen and Dixie for their leadership in creating this new era for Boise State alumni and friends. We look forward to you making this elegant new facility your campus home away from home.

Thank you, and Go Broncos!