In 2003, we set out to transform Boise State University into a metropolitan research university of distinction.

I say “we” because while it may have been me standing at the podium to declare that mission, I knew as clearly then as I do today that it would take a campus community of faculty, staff, alumni, donors, partners, friends and students to accomplish a goal that seemed so lofty and aspirational at the time.

Fifteen years later, I am proud and honored to say we have done just that. Don’t take my word for it, however. Take the word of the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education, which recognized Boise State as a doctoral research institution in 2016. Take the word of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, which recently named Boise State one of five universities in the country boosting retention and graduation rates in the most innovative ways.

You can see the difference in our $400 million investment in world-class classrooms, laboratories and student-centered facilities that have transformed our metropolitan campus. You can see the difference in our flourishing partnerships with Idaho’s leading companies across industry, from high-tech to agriculture and beyond.

Perhaps most meaningfully, you can see the difference every single day in the students who call our campus home. When I arrived on campus, the Quad outside the Administration Building was largely empty at all hours. Today, I’ve joked that you need traffic lights to find your way through the crowd. And it is a crowd of high-achieving, dedicated students from across Idaho, the American West and around the world.

Boise State now has Idaho’s largest graduate school, confers nearly half of all the bachelor’s degrees awarded by Idaho’s public universities, and enrolls one in every three students in Idaho’s entire public higher education system, including community and technical colleges and our four-year institutions.

Between our own growth in undergraduate and graduate enrollment and the rapid expansion of our educational partner, the College of Western Idaho, more than twice as many people have access to higher education in the Treasure Valley than before we helped launch CWI with the gift of land and Boise State’s Selland College of Applied Science. The creation of that community college helped Boise State flourish as the doctoral research university that our state’s economic, political and cultural center needed, while expanding access and opportunity for all students across the valley and elsewhere in Idaho.

I am stepping down this summer but will continue my work and focus on higher education and on my radio show, Reader’s Corner. But I know — and the stories in this issue of Focus demonstrate — that Boise State’s trajectory is showing no signs of slowing. That is due to you, our alumni and friends, as well as our faculty, staff and students.

Kathy and I are deeply and profoundly grateful for the way we have been welcomed into the community and the Boise State family. The opportunity to serve as the president of Boise State University, and for Kathy to serve as my true partner throughout these years, has been the privilege of a lifetime.

Thank you — and, of course, Go Broncos!

From the Editors:

This is a bittersweet issue of Focus for those of us at Boise State University, commemorating the 15-year tenure of President Bob Kustra. Instead of filling the pages with accolades, appreciations and remembrances of Dr. Kustra and Kathy (which we wouldn’t have the space to accommodate under any circumstances), we decided to focus on some of the transformative innovations that have made Boise State University a leader in Idaho and across the country in shaping the future of public higher education in America.

Cover photo inspired by Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza’s photograph of President Barack Obama running with his dog in the East Wing hallway, as well as Chapman University and others’ adaptations. Photo by John Kelly