Every fall the Campus Read committee at Boise State chooses which book will next be handed out to incoming students at orientation. Campus Read was an initiative started by President Bob Kustra in the early 2000s. It’s meant to create a common thread for new students and to pose societal questions that a college student should be thinking about.
“It has to be something that provides enduring lessons and yet is readable and at an intellectual level that would fit a college audience. It’s kind of hard to find those types of books,” said Ross Burkhart of the Political Science Department who joined the Campus Read committee in 2010.
Between the Office of the Provost and New Student Family Programs, both of which provide the funding for Campus Read, there is an average of 3,600 books purchased each year to be distributed. The costs rake up to around $15,000, with most of that being spent on bringing the authors to Boise State campus. When students attend orientation the cost of the book is included in orientation cost. If a student misses orientation, copies of the book will be for sale in the bookstore and usually cost around $9 or $10.
Throughout the years the committee has used different tactics in picking the campus read. Sometimes the committee compiles a giant list of books and go over them together or other times they ask students to send in submissions online.
“Many times the books that the students came up with were the books that they read in high school, so they were books that they loved, but they were already a part of that high school list so they didn’t fit,” said Sharon McGuire, vice provost for undergraduate studies. Either way the committee goes about choosing it, it’s a very time-consuming process.
After being distributed to incoming students, the book is then meant to be implemented throughout certain courses. The logistics of this have changed recently with the new university foundation courses which are required for all students. Along with being implemented in the university foundation courses, there will now be a new online summer course offered to new students to introduce them to Blackboard and guide them through the book.
“We’re trying to have them (incoming students) be more connected with the book during the summer,” McGuire said.
Samantha Walker, a freshman chemistry major with a secondary education emphasis, joined the Campus Read committee in the fall of 2013. With her involvement in the Honors College, Walker knew some students who were previously involved in the committee and encouraged her to attend a meeting.
“I didn’t realize how many people were involved with the Campus Read committee,” Walker said. “(There were) a lot of really important people, like deans and people that are really involved in different parts of the college that I wouldn’t of thought would be involved.”
As a student, the committee turns to people like Walker to judge the success of the Campus Read.
“I didn’t see it as much in my UF class yet, but in my Honors 198 course we spent two weeks just talking about what were the questions asked and how can we apply them to campus,” Walker said.
McGuire doesn’t feel the Campus Read has reached its full potential yet.
“The vision of what does success look like is imagining people saying ‘I love that part of that book,’ ‘have you heard of this book?’” McGuire said. “And kind of having it snowball, so that people, while they’re in college, will read something that they’re not required to.”