While sitting at the Starbucks in the Student Union Building during the fall 2019 semester, Vice President of Inclusive Excellence Lydia Hernandez sat down with the new associate vice president for Student Affairs, Eric Scott, to discuss initiatives for the future.
“He’s very receptive to the ideas that students have, which has been, I guess, it’s been refreshing to not only hear from him that he supports us but having him actually show up and be in spaces that students are in has been refreshing,” Hernandez said. “And not only myself, but I know that there are other students on campus who definitely feel his support.”
Waking up at 7:30 a.m. is not the ideal way to spend a Friday morning, but for Hernandez, it is her routine. During a regular executive team meeting for the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU), Scott attended to see what he could do to help them serve the student body.
“He’s been such a great help when it comes to learning how to navigate those [cultural]conversations because he has been in a culture and a campus culture where that has been prioritized,” Hernandez said. “So in a way, it keeps us grounded in how to approach certain settings with land acknowledgment in mind. But as always, he wants to recognize the fact that it’s important to build relationships far beyond just acknowledging land; it’s about education.”
Traveling on the Alaska Marine Highway with his wife, dog and personal items on a barge sailing to meet him and his family in Seattle, Wa., Scott moved from Juneau, Ala. to Boise, Idaho in five days. In Alaska, he spent time with the 3,000 students enrolled as the dean of Students and Campus Life for the University of Alaska Southeast.
“It was a truly unique setting to be engaged in higher education work, and probably one of the experiences that I have the most gratitude for in my life,” Scott said. “It changed who I am. [It] changed everything about me, changed how I do the work, but probably most significantly, it made me really see the value of community.”
The position of associate vice president for student affairs had not been vacant for 10 years, according to Leslie Webb, the vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. The position’s entailments have adapted to compensate for the growing student population and now has a lens towards student success, according to Webb.
With Scott filling this role, Webb has seen firsthand how he interacts with students and understands the processes of making changes for the better.
“All the final candidates had lunch with a group of students and we had to go interrupt [them]during Eric’s visit. They were so deep in conversation, talking about their experiences at Boise State,” Webb said. “That, to me, was an indication of how he was going to be part of this campus community.”
Building relationships with students and within the Boise State community is something Scott has prioritized and brought with him to campus. When meeting someone for the first time, Scott wants to understand them and the way they view the world so he can better serve the students.
The first thing Scott recognized when coming to campus was the strong work ethic people have for what they do. Scott’s father was a plumber and his grandfather was a steelworker, and hard work is something that he aligns with his personal philosophy.
“I think it begs the question, and I think our students are asking the question, ‘How do we take that growth and build on it to be even better?’ The entire field of higher education is in flux and it’s changing, changing rapidly,” Scott said.
By training the leaders of the future, Scott believes a difference can be made in the work being done as long as students are being heard. Boise State’s growth from a community college to a strong, innovative research institute in less than 100 years shows and challenges students to be better and grow further, according to Scott.
“I think that we’re poised to be on the leading edge of that,” Scott said. “One of the ways that I hope to be on the leading edge is by having a world-class student experience at Boise State where every student feels welcomed, acknowledged, seen and included.”