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President’s Letter to Friends of Boise State

Come Partner with Us

I was privileged last week to deliver the first-ever State of the University Address to the Business Community, hosted by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.

It was a great way to draw the connection between Boise and Boise’s doctoral research university, and it gave me the chance to update the city’s business leaders on the many changes that you all know have taken place here on our campus.

If I had to sum up my main message, it would be this: Boise and Boise’s research university can work hand-in-hand to grow a vibrant economy into the future.
We need Idaho’s business leaders and Idaho companies to invest in our students and the university, whether that is through student internships, hiring our graduates, funding a scholarship for just one student, or mentoring our students — there are so many ways to realize the potential of Boise State and our students.

At the same time, Boise State offers so many partnership opportunities for business leaders and entrepreneurs to boost their businesses and ideas, such as cooperative research projects, new product development or access to experts or labs.

We want it to be as easy as possible to work alongside Boise State — whether to provide hands-on experiences to boost student success or to connect with our expertise and resources to boost business success. And that’s why we have created a new website:

It provides contact information for business leaders who know what they need from the university, and information and resources for those who aren’t familiar with all Boise State has to offer.

With the addition of the College of Innovation and Design, which has built a number of experience-based programs that let students apply what they are learning in the classroom to the real world, this call for partnerships is open-ended. A future opportunity may not be something the university or local businesses have thought of yet.

As I told the business leaders who came to that inaugural Chamber speech, we will grow with you; we will be flexible for you. We will be there for you and we will help you create a sustainable economy that works for families across the region.

Thanks, as always, for all you do. Go Broncos!

October 2015

It’s October and our students are busy getting ready for the Homecoming Parade and football game vs. University of Wyoming next Saturday, the 24th. Homecoming week is a great time on campus, all about building traditions for our students, honoring our alumni, and connecting with our friends and fans.

One of the greatest assets Boise State University enjoys is our successful, energetic and ever-growing alumni. Did you know we added almost 4,000 Broncos to the alumni ranks last year alone? We set a new record for graduates just about every year.

Alumni are leading our efforts to build Boise State into a metropolitan research university of distinction that remains accessible and affordable to students from Idaho and beyond. Our scholarship campaign —Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Opportunities — has raised more than $19 million of its $25 million goal. Scholarships can change the course of someone’s life, and I encourage you to participate in this effort if you have not already done so — and thank you if you have.

We know a university’s success can be judged by the success of its students and graduates so we take great pleasure in hearing about people like Steve Baker (BBA, business management, ’84), who has grown his onion packing company into one of the largest in the country, and Tabb Compton (BS, political science, ’91) who joined the highly successful local company Scentsy, Inc. after starting a successful sunglass business that was purchased by Sunglass Hut International. They are just two of the six people who will be honored Oct. 23 at our annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala. I hope you can join us for that evening as well as our Homecoming parade and game against Wyoming. Homecoming information is found on the following links:

Alumni Awards Gala

Homecoming Events

This fall we were excited to welcome Lisa Gardner as the executive director of the Boise State Alumni Association. As a graduate of Boise State’s College of Business and Economics (’95), a member of the Boise State Alumni Association and a donor to the university, Gardner counts herself among Broncos who “bleed blue.” She worked 15 years in sales and management for a local technology integration company and is a successful business owner here in the Treasure Valley.

Lisa and her staff have some great ideas about how to bring our alumni together, to keep that Bronco Spirit alive for a lifetime — so if you haven’t checked in with the Alumni Association in a while, I encourage you to do so now.

Finally, if you haven’t seen them already, I want to tell you about the new Boise State University license plates, available throughout the state when you renew your vehicle registration. We’ve made a change — from the Bronco emblazoned on our athletics jerseys to the B that represents the university as a whole. This change gives all Boise State University supporters the chance to show off their support and to help support this university we all love and cherish. The state, by the way, does not give the university the option of having two Boise State design plates from which to choose. A full $25 from the $35 custom license plate fee goes toward scholarships here on campus.

We love Bronco athletics at Boise State — and we know what a valuable role sport plays in both developing future leaders and in bringing our community together — but we are one university, with goals of excellence and innovation in the classroom as well as on the fields of play. The iconic B symbol was designed to represent the entire university and we are excited to offer our fans, alumni and supporters the opportunity to carry that message wherever they drive.

As you can see, the opportunities for lifelong engagement at Boise State have never been greater. I hope you take advantage of all that you can — our continued success depends on it.

Thank you, and Go Broncos!

September 2015

We are excited to welcome our students back to campus this week—especially the freshmen in our Class of 2019 and the 2,500 Broncos who are living on campus this year.

The Boise State of 2015 is truly a metropolitan research university of distinction, thanks to an incredible amount of work over the past several years by everyone on campus and the invaluable support from you, our friends, alumni and donors.

We set a new record for summer enrollment this year, with more than 9,000 students — and about 40 percent of the credits were taken online. That shows just how vital it is for Boise State to continue to be a leader in delivering our signature education experience in all the ways students want to access it—and also explains why we have been so busy here all summer!

We have taken seriously our goal to align university programs with workforce needs—working not just with longstanding transformative partners like Micron Technology, but also new ones, like the fast-growing software development sector in downtown Boise. By this time next year, our entire Computer Science Department will be housed just steps away from the very companies clamoring to hire our graduates.

Our Honors College is welcoming a record class following a 50 percent increase in Honors applications this year. More than 600 Honors students spread across all years and disciplines are taking advantage of this intense liberal arts experience we’ve created in the midst of a large metropolitan university. I’m excited to report that our trustees on the State Board of Education approved an innovative public-private partnership to build a new home for Boise State’s Honors College in the heart of campus. Expected to open in fall 2017, it will include beds for more than 600 Honors and other students, expand on-campus dining options and combine residences with classrooms and social space.

Perhaps the best news I have to share relates to the nationwide effort to boost skills and expertise in science, technology, engineering and math—the so-called STEM fields. In 2011, when we checked to see how Boise State fared when compared to the national percentage of STEM graduates, we found that only 11 percent of our undergraduate degrees were in STEM, compared with the national average of 15 to 16 percent. So, we set a university goal of reaching 15 percent in five years. I am delighted to report we have reached our goal two years ahead of schedule. We also have doubled the pace of our peer institutions in STEM graduate growth and more than doubled the average growth of our peers in professional degree graduates, and for arts, humanities and social science graduates.

Meanwhile, national data shows that Boise State’s growth in graduate school enrollment has been in the top 5 percent of its peer institutions for the past two decades—Boise State is one of just three schools in the nation with that level of sustained growth over 20 years.

Today we have a broad mix of students and graduates who reflect our dedication to the critical, historical and contextual thinking that the liberal arts provide our future citizens—but also recognizes the challenges graduates are facing in the workforce and serves to best prepare them for success.

For those of us who call higher education our chosen profession, we’ve been given a heady responsibility—to reach into an unknown future by touching the lives of those we meet in the classroom and across campus. We help shape their destinies and the fate of our nation and our planet in a way few on this earth have a chance to do. We can’t do it without your ongoing dedication and support and shared vision.

You can watch my full State of the University speech on

As always, thank you for your support and for all that you do for Boise State.

August 28, 2014

You have been with Boise State University through an incredible journey over the past several years, as we have boosted enrollment, transformed our graduate and research programs, and grown our yearly graduate numbers by more than 70 percent in 15 years.

And this incredible trajectory shows no signs of slacking. This summer a team of biomedical researchers secured the largest research award in Boise State’s history: a $10 million grant to pursue questions that could lead to better understanding of heart disease, strokes, ligament damage and more.

We have announced plans to create a School of Public Service to train future leaders and to find innovative solutions to challenges facing our communities, our landscape and our economies. With close coordination with Idaho’s top health care leaders in the private sector, we have reorganized our College of Health Sciences to better prepare health care workers for that fast-changing and in-demand industry.

This is an exciting time in higher education, but we have to work hard to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. Clearly, we need to test new approaches to learning and teaching, find new applications for our degree offerings and research, and foster a culture that will marshal our creativity and innovation.

That is why we are creating the College of Innovation and Design — a university-wide hub focused on transforming academic programming, learning, and research at Boise State University. Leveraging the speed, collaboration, and risk-taking of a start-up, the college will inspire and support faculty, students and community members from diverse disciplines to create new pathways of learning that anticipate the demands and opportunities of our ever-changing world and workplace. These teams will generate pioneering degrees, badges and certificates as well as design new and innovative approaches to research, community engagement efforts and other initiatives that transcend conventional university boundaries, structures or disciplines.

This college will encourage our faculty to push the boundaries of their teaching and research, it will better prepare students to succeed in the modern economy, and it will offer our industry, nonprofit and government partners an accessible and responsive way to solve immediate problems.

Early indications are that our incoming students in the Class of 2018 will be the best prepared, most diverse and best positioned to finish on time and on budget in Boise State history — though that’s a record being set every year lately. But here at Boise State, we know that our job is not done when we call each of their names at commencement.

The Great Recession affected many Americans, but reports show that recent college graduates are among the hardest hit. The New York Federal Reserve confirmed that today’s graduates are accepting jobs for which they are over-qualified — low-wage or part-time work. The challenge in today’s world is whether we’re providing all the tools necessary for the long-term success of our graduates. I am glad to report some exciting efforts in various corners of the campus.

Our freshman and transfer orientation sessions now include a segment on careers, helping students and parents understand what “hot jobs” are in demand and urging students to stay on track and seek help from Career Services early and often. Our Honors College uses some of the Valley’s most accomplished executives, such as Micron co-founder Ward Parkinson, who volunteers his time to do mock job interviews with Honors students.

Our Foundational Studies program creates experiences and builds skills for students from all disciplinary backgrounds and focuses on those soft skills that employers so often claim are lacking in college graduates today.

This fall, we will gather together faculty members and business leaders for Boise State’s first Treasure Valley Skills Summit — a way for industry leaders to share their workplace-readiness needs, and for Boise State to create ways to meet them.

But we can do more to assure that our students have a variety of opportunities to prepare for their entry into the workplace. Deans Kenneth Petersen of the College of Business and Economics, Tony Roark of the College of Arts and Sciences and Mark Wheeler of Extended Studies are working with Alumni Relations Director Estevan Andrade on a new effort called Bridge to Career. The idea is simple: create a certificate program that students can layer onto their degrees to demonstrate organizational and managerial skills that will improve their prospects as both job applicants and successful team members in the profit or not-for-profit sectors.

A similar and equally important track will offer our students in technical fields the opportunity to improve their soft skills — problem solving and teamwork, work ethic, writing, critical thinking — that employers value so highly.

It’s our intention to distinguish Boise State as a university that defines student success not only by graduation, but also by success in the gainful employment of our graduates as a result of their undergraduate preparation.

You play a key role in this — every time you donate to scholarships, volunteer at an event or just spread the word about the university that Boise State has become. We appreciate that support and know just what it means to every student and graduate we have.

I have attached a video of my fall address below, if you would like to learn about these and other exciting initiatives at Boise State University this year.

Thank you, and as always, Go Broncos!

2014 State of the University Address

May 29, 2014

Boise State has made history, again.

More than 1,600 students participated in the university’s 94th Commencement — a record for Boise State.  In total, 2,307 students were eligible this semester to receive 2,479 degrees and certificates. Of those, 529 were eligible for honors.

Sixteen doctoral students were hooded — the most ever. They earned degrees in curriculum and instruction, electrical and computer engineering, geophysics, geosciences, and materials science and engineering.

We expect that when the numbers are final, we could see more than 3,800 total graduates this year — another record, and proof that Boise State is leading the way to the state’s lofty goal of ensuring that 60 percent of Idahoans between the ages of 25 and 34 have a degree or certificate by 2020. We now confer well more than 40 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded by Idaho’s public universities.

At this year’s commencement, we were humbled to honor Marilyn Shuler with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The longtime director of the Idaho Human Rights Commission earned her master of public administration degree at Boise State in 1978. She co-founded, built and promoted the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, is a founding member of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, supported the development of the Idaho Black History Museum, and has played a key role in countless other organizations over the years.

She has devoted her life to helping others, and she urged the Class of 2014 to make the same commitment.

“Congratulations to all of you,” Shuler said. “You are among the 7 percent of the world’s population with a college degree. You can make the world a better place.”

It’s a call that all of us should heed. In fact, the support from you, our alumni and friends, has never been so important here at Boise State.

The need is mandated, thanks to changes in state support for higher education in Idaho and around the country; ever-increasing costs for compliance, health care and other external mandates; and our desire at Boise State to continue to excel in quality, affordability and access for students in Idaho and beyond.

Our 2014 graduates have seen a great deal of change at their alma mater. Boise State has dramatically increased graduate study, research opportunities and campus life — all while keeping tuition among the lowest among public universities in the Western states. Those changes — and the benefits they will provide to all future Broncos — would not have been possible without the support you commit so freely. Thank you for all your help in producing these excellent graduates, and the many who will follow in their footsteps.