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President’s Letter to Friends of Boise State

February 5, 2014

Idaho lawmakers received troubling news this year: Idaho now ranks dead last among states in annual wages, per-capita income and wage increases since 2007. It was a reality check following the recession’s devastating effects on states like Idaho, where traditional careers haven’t always been tied to education attainment and opportunities awaited those willing to work hard, even when they didn’t have any postsecondary education.

What accounts for Idaho’s poor showing? Lawmakers learned that half of all Idahoans earn less than $11.15 an hour. Less than one in four Idahoans over age 25 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher — 39th among the states. We’re ranked 42nd for master’s degree attainment. This is not unrelated to our economic woes. Studies show that over a lifetime, college graduates earn $1.1 million more, on average, than high school graduates.

But Idaho has the higher educational infrastructure that can propel us into the next economy. We may be closer to a solution than we realize.

The state Department of Labor’s “Hot Jobs” list shows 20 abundant and fast-growing careers that pay far more than Idaho’s average wage. Half of these hot jobs are in health care. Five are in high tech. New opportunities at Boise State mean more Idahoans are graduating each year with the skills these hot jobs require. In the past five years, we have increased our nursing bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates by more than 300 percent. We’ve doubled our graduates in biology, chemistry and pre-medical studies. We have boosted our mechanical engineering graduates by 50 percent. A new partnership with eight local software companies will soon double computer science graduates.

We know that more and more jobs of the future will require some form of postsecondary education, and that is why the State Board of Education has challenged its public universities and colleges with an ambitious goal: ensure that 60 percent of Idahoans between the ages of 25 and 34 have a degree or certificate by 2020. In response, we have transformed our campus life and undergraduate experience, despite lean state budgets. It is paying off: Boise State awarded more than 40 percent of the bachelor’s degrees conferred by public universities in Idaho last year, while keeping tuition the fourth-most affordable among 15 Western states.

If Idaho’s workforce is to improve its standing in wages and income, the state must keep a postsecondary education accessible to all who want to make the sacrifice and commitment to achieve their goals. Your support of Boise State — and the leadership you offer in your communities and across our state — are what’s making these next steps possible. Thank you, as always, for all that you do.

Go Broncos!

– Bob Kustra

November 25, 2013

Today’s university students have lived through the worst recession since the Great Depression.

These digital natives are at once more connected and isolated than any before them. They have experienced significant changes in testing and teaching in their 12 years of primary and secondary school and they’re told that the jobs they’ll be competing for when they graduate may not even exist when they choose their major.

Here at Boise State, we think it is incumbent on the university to adapt to these changing needs and offer far more than a traditional college may have in the past. We need to be innovative in the classroom, incorporating technology, service learning and other ways to boost outcomes. We need to create a welcoming, safe and encouraging campus home. And we need to continue to offer experiences that students can find nowhere else.

This is why we’ve reached out to Boise’s vibrant and growing software industry to join us in a public/private partnership to double the graduates from our coveted computer science program while giving students unprecedented on-the-job experience and creating a reliable and talented pool of future workers and leaders. That is also why we are piloting a Venture College, which will give our most entrepreneurial students a chance to learn from more than 200 of the state’s top business and community leaders. And it’s a major reason I’m proud to tell you about our newest addition to the Boise State family: The co-CEO of the worldwide organic food company Whole Foods.

Walter Robb is our first “Professor of the Practice” — a new program launched to identify talented and accomplished business, scientific and artistic leaders, and invite them to Boise State bring world-class experience and excitement to our students. Each recipient will provide unique opportunities for Boise State students to expand their learning and their horizons. Each will find their own unique ways to interact with students. Robb is already making an impact — he impressed students and faculty at the College of Business and Economics with his enthusiasm and willingness to engage in a recent visit.

We’ll have more to announce soon, and I am excited about the opportunities that await our students.

As always, thanks for everything you do for Boise State University and our more than 22,000 students. Happy Thanksgiving and Go Broncos!


Bob Kustra



Here are a few recent or upcoming items of interest from Boise State University:

Boise State’s freshman class is more diverse, better prepared, more focused on earning a degree, and more likely to stay in school and graduate in a timely manner than ever before, new student demographics and statistics show. Almost 90 percent of these freshmen are coming straight from high school. Nearly 95 percent of them are full-time, degree-seeking students. Meanwhile, retention rates for freshmen the past two years are at an all-time high, and graduation rates of recent cohorts have jumped by as much as 28 percent. The make-up of this new class indicates that Boise State will continue to lead the state towards its goal of awarding diplomas to 60 percent of all Idahoans ages 25 to 34 by 2020. The overall number of enrolled students dipped by less than 3 percent, to 22,003 from last year’s 22,678, but the composition of the student body shows the success of Boise State’s transformation into a metropolitan research university of distinction.

Boise State began offering classes for three new doctorate-level programs this fall. The new Ph.D. in nursing prepares current nurses to assume leadership responsibilities in education and the clinical work force. It is taught fully online and it is self-supporting, which means it is financed by tuition and doesn’t receive state funds. The new Ed.S. (educational specialist) degree in educational leadership is designed to help meet the increasing need for educational leaders at the district level, especially superintendents. It, too, is self-supporting. The university’s new Ph.D. in public policy fosters the next generation of public affairs leaders and furthers Boise State’s mission as the state-mandated leader in public affairs research and education. Focuses on ensuring that Boise State continues to serve as a top resource for those at all levels of government and nonprofits, as well as for citizens who seek improved public policy development and implementation.

Six outstanding Boise State alumni were honored during Homecoming week (Oct. 13-19) for their exemplary professional and personal contributions that result in national or international visibility both for themselves and for Boise State. Each were recognized Oct. 18 during the sixth annual Presidential Alumni Recognition Gala during half time of the Homecoming football game victory against Nevada on Oct. 19. Distinguished Alumni Award winners were: Jennifer Ralston Blair, ’77, a retired advertising agency owner; Tom Carlile, ’73, CEO of Boise Cascade Company; Boo Heffner, ’86, President and CEO of Falck USA; Marti Wiser, ’99, ’00, social worker and executive director of Special Needs Adoption and Permanency Services, Inc. (SNAPS). Distinguished Alumni Service Award winners – recognized for their extraordinary dedication and commitment to volunteer service to the university and the Alumni Association, were: Matthew Broomhead, ’95, HSQE Manager, Kirby Offshore Marine (Puget Sound Alumni Association Chapter President) and Travis Burgess, ’98, Partner, Eide Bailly (Past Alumni Association Board President, Current Treasurer For The Past Alumni Leaders Chapter).

May 24, 2013

Graduation is often celebrated as the culmination of an academic career – but a Commencement ceremony, in definition and reality, is a new beginning. On May 18, more than 2,200 Broncos celebrated an inspiring start to their new life as alumni of Boise State University at our 92nd Commencement ceremony.

These latest graduates bring Boise State’s total number of graduates for the year to more than 3,700 – our university accounts for more than 40 percent of all public university bachelor’s degrees in Idaho each year.

Each of these Broncos has a unique life path that led them to this wonderful individual milestone. And collectively, they represent an extraordinary accomplishment for our society, which will be replenished with their new ideas and energy. They are prepared to excel as thoughtful, informed and productive citizens. They are innovative problem solvers with the skills to be lifelong learners – traits that will serve them well no matter where their life path takes them from here.

Their success as students has been our main focus during their time at Boise State – adding to and passing on the world’s knowledge is our reason for being. Now, as they take those lessons into the world, their success as Boise State alumni will be the greatest measure of our success as a university. With each personal triumph, they add to the currency of their Boise State degree and Boise State’s place as an institution of higher learning.

As alumni – there are nearly 75,000 living Boise State graduates – the new graduates will be Boise State’s most passionate fans, most constructive critics and greatest ambassadors. They will be this university’s most faithful and generous donors. And their contagious excitement will kindle the esprit de corps that unites the university’s entire community of friends, neighbors and partners – Bronco Nation.

I hope you will join me in congratulating all of our newest graduates on the beginning of a new and exciting phase of their lives.

As usual, thank you for all that you do for Boise State University. Go Broncos!

Bob Kustra


Here are a few recent or upcoming items of interest from Boise State University:

“Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, has been chosen as Boise State’s 2013-2014 Campus Read book selection. Incoming first-year students will receive the book during their orientation this summer and it will be discussed in University Foundations courses beginning in the fall. Print and digital copies also are available at Albertsons Library and the Boise Public Library, and the book is for sale at the Boise State Bookstore for a 20 percent discount.

Mark Schmitz, a professor of geosciences, contributed to a study recently published online by the prestigious journal Nature. He was listed as a co-author on the study as part of an interdisciplinary team of paleobiologists and geologists that pushed the age of divergence of apes and Old World monkeys further back in time, to at least 25.2 million years ago. The Boise State University Isotope Geology Laboratory was enlisted into this interdisciplinary study to determine the precise age of the studied primate fossils, by dating volcanic ash beds above and below the fossil occurrence. These measurements can be made in only a handful of laboratories around the world, and the dates obtained by Schmitz also bear on the larger problem of reconciling different estimates for the evolution of primate lineages from fossils and molecular clocks.

A new Boise State education specialist degree program will help meet the increasing need for educational leaders at the district level, especially superintendents. Boise State’s Board of Trustees, the Idaho State Board of Education, recently approved the graduate degree program in educational leadership, with a superintendent endorsement. The program will be offered through the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Studies in the College of Education starting in fall 2013. The educational specialist degree is a step beyond the master’s degree program. The new program will be self-supported, meaning it will be financed by tuition and will not require state funds.

Boise State recently was awarded a $1 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation to provide about 25 scholarships annually for students who are re-entering college. Previously, the Osher Foundation has provided annual funding for the scholarships through a $50,000 grant, with all of the funding being distributed as scholarships each year. With this gift, the Boise State University Foundation will invest the money though its endowment and provide scholarships with the annual interest earnings, preserving the gift as principal in perpetuity. The gift is the most recent recognition of Boise State’s partnership with the Osher Foundation, which previously provided a $1 million endowment for the operation of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State, the only Osher Institute in Idaho. The recent gift also addresses a key strategic focus for Boise State – support for scholarships.

April 10, 2013

Few people, if any, better represent the spirit and possibilities of Boise State University than Chris Petersen. As head coach of our beloved Bronco football team, he is universally respected by his peers, colleagues, players and fans as a leader and mentor, and there is no question that his success has become a model for what is possible all across our campus.

The Beat Coach Pete Scholarship Run and Walk is perhaps the perfect symbol of Coach Pete’s role on our campus. His own idea and a very popular fixture on the campus calendar, this annual 5k foot race has generated $138,000 for student scholarships at Boise State since its inception. It reflects not only Coach Pete’s generosity, but also his passion to put academics first – a zeal evidenced by the football team’s second consecutive No. 2 national academic ranking this year.

On April 13, the Boise State campus will once again welcome a few thousand people looking to “Beat Coach Pete” and raise money for the Boise State General Scholarship Fund – participants also can attend the annual spring football game later in the day. The timing for the race and its cause is perfect – support for scholarships is Boise State’s top funding priority. You – our alumni, friends and donors – will be hearing much more about that need in coming weeks and months.

Scholarships are the most direct and impactful way donors can transform the lives and college experiences of students at Boise State. Scholarships allow students to explore the opportunities of the future to their fullest potential unhindered by financial uncertainty. By supporting scholarships, donors help motivate students in their studies and demonstrate to them that they are a coveted part of the Bronco family – for life. Through scholarships, donors help ensure that great potential is not left unrealized because of an inability to bear the cost of a university education.

For more information about the Beat Coach Pete Scholarship Run and Walk visit  Those who cannot participate in the race but would like to contribute to the General Scholarship Fund can go to and select General Scholarship Fund from the drop-down menu.

As usual, thank you for all that you do for Boise State University. Go Broncos!

Bob Kustra

Here are a few recent and upcoming events at Boise State University:

The Boise State University Foundation and Provost Martin Schimpf recognized Jeanne Belfy, Darryl Butt and Anne Gregory as Boise State’s 2013 University Foundation Scholar Award recipients. Foundation Scholar Awards honor Boise State faculty members who have demonstrated ongoing commitment, expertise and accomplishments in teaching, research/creative activity or professionally related service. Belfy, Department of Music, was recognized with the Teaching Award. Butt, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was recognized with the Research and Creative Activity Award. Gregory, Department of Literacy, was recognized with the Service Award.

The Boise State Talkin’ Broncos are the 2013-2014 Pi Kappa Delta National Champions in speech and debate. Boise State successfully defended its 2011-2012 national championship title and took first place overall at the 48th annual Pi Kappa Delta National Speech and Debate biennial tournament in St. Louis, Mo., March 13-16. The Talkin’ Broncos beat out 88 other schools from 36 states to win the tournament championship. Boise State also won the national championship in 2011 and 2005 and was runner-up in 2007 and 2009 at the biennial tournament.

The Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series at Boise State University presents Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. The lecture is free and no tickets are required. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Free parking is available. Menand is widely considered to be the foremost modern scholar of American studies. His book “The Metaphysical Club” is a detailed history of American intellectual and philosophical life in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Idaho State Board of Education recently approved a new online doctor of nursing practice degree program at Boise State. The program is aimed at nurses who are seeking a terminal degree in nursing that is an alternative to a research-focused Ph.D. The program starts in August 2013. Boise State’s ninth doctorate, the program will prepare more nurses to assume leadership responsibilities in education and the clinical work force, and is self-supporting.

Boise State has joined an elite group of research universities that have a launched a start-up company after licensing an online gaming platform developed by university faculty to a new venture, GoGo Labs, that will introduce the software product to the marketplace. GoGo Labs founder Lisa Dawley, a national expert on learning environments and a former professor and chair in Boise State’s Department of Educational Technology, developed the software with educational technology faculty member Chris Haskell while at Boise State. Collaborating with the university’s Office of University and Industry Ventures (UIV) in the Division of Research and Economic Development, Dawley and Haskell worked to refine, test and market the software product that provides technology-based learning opportunities.

February 22, 2013

Dear Friends:

Adequate funding, or the lack thereof, has been a topic of conversation at the Legislature in recent weeks. The fact is that state funding for higher education has not been a priority in recent years, having decreased from where it was just ten years ago while funding for many other state entities has significantly increased over the same time.

A case in point is Boise State, where state support accounts for just 18 percent of the university’s current budget, compared with 33 percent 10 years ago. In addition, Enrollment Workload Adjustment (EWA) – a state formula to support enrollment growth – has not been consistently funded from year to year. Because Boise State leads the state in increased enrollments over recent years, our students do not receive the same level of financial support that students at other Idaho schools do. In fact, our students are dead last in per student funding when compared to our sister institutions even when adjusted for the differences in research and graduate programming. Unfunded growth from 2008 to the present totals $10.3 million for Boise State alone, and presents a major challenge to us as the university serves the most populated region in Idaho with a growing tech economy dependent on more programming and more graduates.

I do hope the State of Idaho recognizes and rewards the enormous contribution Boise State makes to the state and regional economy. One thing is for sure – Boise State can make a very strong case for the equity funding it has thus far been denied. Our academic growth since 2001 is impressive. The number of doctoral programs offered has quadrupled, the number of master’s degree programs has more than doubled, and digital learning has expanded to encompass 13 fully online programs. We have increased our graduate production by 47 percent since 2006, with 3,441 total graduates last year. Boise State now awards 41 percent of all degrees granted annually by Idaho public higher education institutions.

The students we educate today will provide the next generation of leadership for Idaho’s economy and its communities. The success of Boise State and its students is not in doubt, but distributing resources fairly among Idaho’s students and schools would make a big difference in ensuring that we continue to serve our region and produce more graduates prepared for a fiercely competitive global economy.

As usual, thank you for all that you do for Boise State University. Go Broncos!

Bob Kustra


Here are a few recent and upcoming events at Boise State University:

Registration is now open for the 2013 Beat Coach Pete Scholarship Run and Walk scheduled for Saturday, April 13. Racers are challenged to beat Boise State University head football coach Chris Petersen to the finish line while benefiting student scholarships. The family-friendly event begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Boise State Recreation Center. The three-mile race winds through campus, along the Boise City Greenbelt and finishes at Bronco Stadium. Registration through April 7 is $15 for Boise State students and children 10 and under, and $25 general. A family of five may register for $60. Register online at

Boise State selected “The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird” by Bruce Barcott, as the 2012-13 Campus Read book. The book was named one of the best books of 2008 by Library Journal. Part nature writing, part travelogue, part biography, it is a true story that chronicles one woman’s crusade to stop a multinational corporation from exterminating the last scarlet macaws of Belize. Her dramatic struggle brings alive the worldwide battle over globalization, demand for energy, environmental destruction, the fate of the planet’s species, and the realities of economic survival in a tiny Third World country. Barcott will give a free lecture at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, in the Student Union Simplot Ballroom.

Boise State Auction 2013’s winter online auction runs through Feb. 26. Sponsored by the Boise State Alumni Association and Bronco Athletic Association, auction events benefit academic and athletic scholarships at Boise State. Available for bid at are many Bronco-themed items and memorabilia, as well as tickets to athletic events, including the opportunity to watch the Colorado State basketball game from Arena Club seats and attend the pre-game “Chalk Talk” with the coaches. Additionally, there will be gift certificates for Treasure Valley restaurants and hotels, tickets to the Boise Philharmonic, massages, health and fitness memberships, and much more.

Some of the nation’s most prominent presidential scholars will convene on the Boise State campus on Thursday, Feb. 28, to participate in a daylong conference on “The State of the American Presidency.” Sponsored by the Andrus Center for Public Policy, conference participants will deliver lectures, engage in panel discussions and share views with audience members through vigorous question-and-answer sessions. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with an evening lecture beginning at 7 p.m.  Admission price for the full day includes lunch. There is a $10 fee for interested students and a $25 fee for the general public; teachers can attend the entire event for free. Register at or by calling Suzan Raney at 426-3784 or David Adler at 426-3777. Deadline for registration is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26.

The Meridian School District is naming one of its elementary schools for Boise State Distinguished Educator in Residence and former astronaut Barbara Morgan. Linder Elementary will become the Barbara Morgan STEM Academy next fall, when it becomes a school of choice for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Morgan was NASA’s first Teacher in Space and in August 2007 logged more than 300 hours in space aboard the shuttle Endeavour on a mission to the International Space Station. Today she champions STEM education both in Idaho and nationally. In addition to current students, the school will serve students in north Meridian. Morgan will help develop the STEM program for the school, which will receive updated science classroom facilities.