At Boise State University these concepts ring true to our students who are arriving in record numbers to get a signature education, hands-on experience and opportunities that launch them into careers with the skills, abilities and knowledge to succeed.
They ring true to the civic and industry partners who turn to Boise State for world-class researchers, innovators and leaders of the future — the kind of can-do problem-solvers needed to navigate today’s changing economy.
And they ring true for a growing number of experts and education watchdogs who see in Boise State a university of the future. President Barack Obama took notice. So did the Chronicle of Higher Education — and the founding director of the Harvard Innovation Lab, who left Cambridge to become the inaugural dean of Boise State’s new College of Innovation and Design.
In fact, when the British strategic consulting firm Firetail set out to find those universities poised to become globally influential and “shake up the establishment” of higher ed, it concluded that Boise State University was one of 20 “Rising Stars” in the world.
Boise State has one of the fastest-growing graduate schools in the nation, and houses Idaho’s fastest-growing research enterprise. You know the Broncos win on the Blue Turf like few others, but they also are one of just five teams in the nation to have received the NCAA’s top academic award in each of the past five years — a focus on academics that pervades all of our sports.
We know only one thing about our future here: It won’t look like our past. But the spirit that drives us will live on.
– Boise State University President, Bob Kustra
CENTERED ON STUDENTS
Our students enjoy access to some of the world’s leaders in their fields, to state-of-the-art research opportunities and learning laboratories, and to campus facilities and academic support designed to ensure they achieve their graduation goals on time and on budget. They are all subject to at least one constant here at Boise State — a campus-wide willingness to change for the better.
In 2016 the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education promoted Boise State University to the level of doctoral research institution — a classification that not only marks a significant transformation of Boise State’s graduate and research efforts, but also confirms how these improvements serve our first and greatest mission — to provide a signature undergraduate education to students from around Idaho and beyond.
In 2003, Boise State President Bob Kustra set a goal to become a metropolitan research university of distinction. Since then, our growth and innovation have been rapid and constant:
growth in our student body, to 23,886
growth in graduate degree offerings, to 11 doctoral programs and 67 master’s degrees
in new research laboratories, classrooms, student housing and services, and athletic facilities
increase in the number of donors, to 25,001
increase in annual philanthropic giving, to $31,508,897
A NEW KIND OF SCHOOL
School of Public Service – Sometimes the name says it all. This new college-level school was created to inspire and equip students to be innovative, principled and effective public service leaders, to promote meaningful community engagement and civil discourse and to serve as an objective and unbiased resource for citizens and decision makers.
A NEW KIND OF COLLEGE
College of Innovation and Design – When the Ivy League- and Stanford-trained founding director of the Harvard Innovation Lab left Cambridge, Massachusetts, for Boise State University, the world of higher education took notice. Gordon Jones said his decision was based largely on one thing: “I like going to places that are trying to make history.” As dean of the College of Innovation and Design, Jones leads a division that may be unique in the nation — a degree-offering college with the specific charge to move swiftly and boldly in directions universities need to explore but often have been all too slow to attempt.
Boise State’s Materials Science and Engineering Department got a major boost from one of Idaho’s leading companies. The Micron Foundation announced a $25 million gift — the largest in Boise State history — to help fund a new Center for Materials Research. This gift comes after more than 20 years of close partnership with the foundation and Micron Technology Inc., one of the world’s leaders in semiconductors and one of Idaho’s leading businesses.
Micron employs more than 600 Boise State graduates — from the top echelons of leadership to the clean rooms creating the technologies of the future. Micron’s relationship with Boise State runs deep. The College of Business and Economics (below) is housed in a state-of-the-art facility that Micron helped build.
At the same time, IDEO partner Diego Rodriguez — a founding professor at Stanford’s d.school, a former entrepreneur-in-residence at Harvard Business School and a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab — joined Boise State as a Professor of the Practice, offering his expertise and experience to faculty and students through our College of Innovation and Design.
CULTIVATING THE ARTS
We are in the final stages of fundraising for a $42 million Fine Arts Building that will house the university’s acclaimed Department of Art as well as studio space, public galleries and more. We’ll welcome the public to a World Museum where visitors can be part of something new — an interactive space that will employ the latest virtual reality technology developed right here on campus.
Imagine touring the Louvre in Paris, France, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain — all in one day. Imagine students taking a virtual tour of Michelangelo’s Pieta as though they were in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Here, technology will truly intersect with the arts, and the experience we can provide to students of all ages will be richer for it.
A WILDLY SUCCESSFUL ACADEMIC START-UP
One of the first ideas launched by the College of Innovation and Design has quickly proven to be in high demand among students and employers. More than 200 students have enrolled in our new Gaming, Interactive Media and Mobile degree program — in just its second year.
These students know that employers from health care to technology and far beyond are clamoring for workers skilled in virtual and augmented reality programming skills. Here they can learn the technology, the arts and the narrative skills they’ll need for some of the fastest-growing job sectors in the country.
BRIDGE TO CAREER
Colleges hear it all the time — liberal arts graduates also need some technical skills. STEM majors have to be able to better communicate and work in teams. Everybody could stand to learn some basic coding. At Boise State, we built a new set of offerings to tackle these concerns. Business skills for non-business majors, computer programming, negotiating, turning creativity into innovation — these and many more courses are offered through our Bridge to Career program. The concept is one of many ways the university is working to answer the call of so many students, parents and community members to better prepare graduates for a changing workforce, while continuing to prioritize and maintain our nearly century-old devotion to a full and rounded liberal arts education.
BLUE SKY INSTITUTE
When the deans of Boise State’s College of Business and Economics and College of Health Sciences spent some time talking about the need for truly innovative and inventive thinking in the health care industry, they realized that a problem like this couldn’t be solved just by health sciences experts or by business experts. Truly “wicked problems” have to be tackled across disciplines — and by people unafraid to aim high. So Dean Ken Petersen and Dean Tim Dunnagan built the framework to make something like this possible — the Blue Sky Institute. Already, the institute is working with hospital and medical leaders from Boise and beyond to envision how to transition how our health care system looks at mental and behavioral health, from the traditional individual-focused fee-for-service model to one that embraces the tenets of “population health,” which aims to improve health outcomes for entire communities and populations. Many partners in the project are entities the university has long worked with to place student interns and graduates and for individual research projects, but the new lofty and shared goal promises to strengthen the relationships even more.
Boise State University was selected to host Shakespeare’s First Folio, a nearly 400-year-old book containing 18 Shakespearean plays. It is a book so rare, it was almost lost to the ages.
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., chose Boise State as Idaho’s only host for the national traveling exhibition. More than 9,000 visitors came to campus to see the folio for themselves and to participate in this celebration of the arts.
When Boise State was named a doctoral research institution in 2016, we paused to celebrate the distinction — briefly. The designation was just the beginning and we have no intention of resting now. We will continue to create the doctoral and master’s degree programs our region’s economy demands, to conduct the research
that is changing our world every day, and to build partnerships with universities, agencies and private enterprise that connect our students and our work to the questions that need to be answered.
Award-winning undergrad research
Boise State University materials science undergraduate student Jennifer Domanowski has been recognized as one of the Top 20 aerospace-bound engineering students in the country by Aviation Week and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The “Tomorrow’s Engineering Leaders: The 20 Twenties” program recognizes the accomplishments and drive of 20 science, technology, engineering and math students in their 20s. Open to students around the globe, the program selects the best of the best, based on their academic record, service to the community at large and the value of their research projects.
Marshall Scholar sets sights on solar tech
Kelly Schutt earned a Marshall Scholarship for his work researching solar energy in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. His goals are ambitious: “To reduce poverty and improve sustainability.” He joins just 31 other students from universities like Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Johns Hopkins in earning the scholarship, which statistics say is harder to get than a Rhodes. He is continuing his work at the University of Oxford.
Is quantum entanglement the secret to unbreakable codes?
Recent NSF CAREER Award-winner Paul Simmonds — who came to Boise State via Cambridge, Yale and UCLA — is working to answer whether the mysterious and nearly instantaneous connection between subatomic particles that Einstein called “spooky action at a distance” may be the key to continuing the ever-increasing speed of computer processing.
Science and the school lunch
Many of us can remember what is wrong with school lunches. Work by Lindsey Turner, research associate professor in the College of Education, is helping the nation figure out what to do about it. Turner has become a national leader in this field, which affects the health and nutrition of more than 30 million American youth. Already, schools have used strategies from Turner’s research to meet lunch standards while maintaining good taste and appealing choices, such as adding salad bars, and using different types of seasonings and frozen vegetables instead of canned to reduce sodium content.
Nanotechnology with mega possibilities
David Estrada is an Idaho native who joined the Navy, became interested in materials science, trained at some of the finest programs in the country and then returned home to become one of the world’s leading experts on graphene. Graphene consists of just one layer of atoms from the graphite molecule. It is a nanoscopic slice of carbon so thin it is considered two-dimensional. But it is flexible, light and conductive, and may — as a study Estrada worked on recently shows — be a viable scaffold for growing functional muscle tissue. He is understandably optimistic about what could come next. “We think we can build on these results to investigate the fundamental chemistry of life while advancing toward clinical applications,” Estrada said. “Graphene has just begun to flex its muscles in the bioengineering domain.”
Answers for a 50-year-old tragedy
Geoscientist Lee Liberty and a team of fellow scientists recently pinpointed the cause of the massive 1964 underwater earthquake that killed 23 of the Alaskan coastal village of Chenega’s 75 residents. The team determined it may have been so deadly because of a series of conditions that could exist today in fjords around the world. As coastal populations grow, knowing how to recognize these danger signs may one day save lives.
Will Hughes, associate professor of materials science and engineering and associate dean of the College of Innovation and Design, helps coordinate the “VIP” programs that engage students in long-term research projects. He conducts his own research through Boise State’s Nanoscale Materials and Device Research Group, where he strives to use DNA as a programmable building block for manufacturing biomedical tools.
We are part of a consortium of top-notch research institutions like Purdue and Georgia Tech that offers “Vertically Integrated Projects.” Students join teams of graduate students, faculty and private researchers tackling immediate problems that take more than a few weeks or a semester to suss out.
So far, Boise State teams are tackling the potential of plasma medicine, exploring virtual reality, developing shelters for housing-challenged third-world countries and more.
Boise State students have enjoyed a special relationship with space since former Distinguished Educator in Residence, space shuttle astronaut and Teacher in Space Barbara Morgan came to campus.
These “Space Broncos” have participated in NASA’s Micro-Gravity University for nine years. They have built robots and rovers designed for the extreme environments of space. They worked with International Space Station Commander Steve Swanson on experiments in space and even talked to him and his crew in a live up-link from campus. Today, many graduates work in space-related jobs or graduate studies.
Today, Morgan’s legacy continues with NASA astronaut and Professor of the Practice Steve Swanson, the former commander of the International Space Station who joined Boise State in 2015.
When Idaho’s growing software industry came to Boise State with an urgent need for more developers, we reacted. The companies themselves funded scholarships and the State Department of Labor kicked in a grant to jump-start growth in the Computer Science Department. Within a few short years, enrollment ballooned by 70 percent. The next step was even more radical — when one of the largest local companies planned a new facility in the heart of downtown, Boise State became a partner in the project, moving the entire program off campus and across the Boise River.
Our computer science students are within steps of the very companies clamoring to hire them as interns and full-time, highly paid technology workers.
In recent months, these visitors have included:
A winner of many international literary awards, including the prestigious Booker Prize
Award-winning author and New York Times columnist
Pulitzer Prize winner
Australia’s first woman Prime Minister
Sir Elton John
Acclaimed singer, songwriter and musician
National Book Award winner
Former President of the United States
Former Secretary of Defense and director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author
Former Whole Foods co-CEO and Professor of the Practice
Sir Salman Rushdie
Writer and noted public intellectual who has won many of the world’s top literary prizes
Artist in Residence and Professor of the Practice (the only living artist with two pieces in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol)
— and many, many others.
“Straight A’s and NCAAS: Allie Ostrander is America’s Next Running Phenom.”
– Newsweek, on Boise State’s cross country star who placed second at nationals in her freshman year.
Boise State student-athletes are scoring big in the classroom as well as on the field. Last year, 10 Bronco teams earned a perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate score — the NCAA’s highest measure of academic success.
Our football team is one of only five in the country to receive a Public Recognition Award in each of the past five years. The “Boise State Way” was summed up by swimming and diving head coach Jeremy Kipp recently in Swimming World magazine: “The entire environment around the Boise State University athletic program has been about pushing every metric of student-athlete performance. From the beginning of the year, our captains committed the team to a 3.5 GPA. This academic goal was set on day one, along with our swimming performance and community service goals.”
Boise State has “by far” the most football wins per dollar spent in college sports.