“Besides an early fascination with martial arts it was an undergrad course I took on the history of China and Japan that really cemented my interest in Asia,” Marr said. “At the time, China seemed like the road less traveled. It had just recently opened up again to foreign students so I saved up, packed my bags and started studying Chinese in Beijing.”
Marr connects the Boise State community to Asia in many ways, by encouraging recruiting in Asia, working with international students and by advising university leaders on building partnerships abroad, including reaching out to various universities across China.
The students in Marr’s classes are able to build on his experiences and take his lessons with them into the international workforce.
“In the courses I teach, there’s an experiential component so when we talk about various aspects of the impact of culture or the impact of political economy or how supply chains work or how foreign investment works, I’ve had deep, practical experiences in all of these areas in a number of countries, including China and Japan, which are major players in international business.”
Marr doesn’t stop with Asia, though. He said his goal is to bring more students to Boise State and form partnerships across the globe, bringing Bronco Nation to the world.
“In addition to helping create opportunities for Boise State students here and abroad, I would love to see a larger and more diverse population of students from all corners of the world here on campus, whether for short- or long-term stays,” Marr said. “All of these activities help to create a more diverse and connected experience for students, generate long-term friendships and partnerships, and help make Boise State’s name known to employers and other partners around the globe.”
Marr recently helped connect Boise State to the east by organizing the first-ever Idaho China Town Hall, a joint event between the National Committee on U.S. China Relations and Boise State.
“China’s rapid emergence as a global player and potential partner on many U.S. policy priorities has ensured that the Sino-American relationship will have a direct impact on the lives of nearly everyone in both countries,” said Marr. “These issues include both the big, such as security and the environment, as well as the local, such as consumer product standards and prices.”
The local event, part of a national town hall, featured a Q and A with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Events like this help bring the Boise State name to the forefront of international business, affording students more opportunities.
“Boise State isn’t a small island. It’s actually plugged into this massive global community and this is a great way for students to start their journey.”
Fluent in Chinese and able to speak Japanese, it’s easy to see why Marr has the unique ability to connect the university to Asia. His LinkedIn page reads like a guidebook to international business, including stints at New York University’s Shanghai Center, City University of Hong Kong, the US Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai and more.
Recently, the Idaho State Board of Education approved a new Global Studies undergraduate program at Boise State that aligns with Marr’s vision for the university. The program will offer students a competitive avenue in a rapidly globalizing world by emphasizing world language proficiency, global literacy and study abroad. The program, under the School of Public Service, officially will launch in fall 2017 and will include courses from several colleges on campus.
“One of the things I love about Boise State is there’s a very interdisciplinary spirit here. So we’re able to look at how business affects politics and how it affects society and how it affects culture and policy,” said Marr.