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President’s Letter to Friends of Boise State

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 and Friends 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!

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: partnerships.boisestate.edu.

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 KTVB.com.

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