Boise State University President Bob Kustra presented his 15th annual State of the University Address at the Morrison Center on Wednesday, Aug. 16th. The speech was peppered with shout outs and public appreciation for an extensive list of faculty, students, and departments at Boise State. When not sharing personal success stories of Boise State students and alumni, Kustra illustrated several key accomplishments by Boise State, commented on the politics of the First Amendment and human rights, as well as the need to focus on skills rather than majors.
Kustra highlighted several statstics for the new year about enrollment and donations. He first mentioned that Boise State has a 78 to 80% first year student retention rate and that 1 out of 3 students enrolled in higher education in Idaho attend Boise State. Both the 2017-2018 freshman class and graduate numbers are on track to be the largest in Boise State history. Similarly, there are a record number of students living on campus. With this increase in students, Boise State is welcoming three new buildings: the Honors College and Sawtooth Hall, the Center for Fine Arts and the Micron Center for Material Research, with a building for the School of Public Affairs in the works.
Additionally, Boise State generated $50 million for research grants and contracts, and 17,819 donors raised $52 million for the scholarship campaign.
One aspect many people noticed was the address had a political tone. Kustra condemned President Trump and Representative Raul Labrador’s remarks about the events in Charlottesville and University of Virginia. With an emphasis on tolerance, Kustra introduced the creation of the Marilyn Shuler Human Rights Initiative and Inclusive Excellence Council to create open dialogue about the inclusion and freedom of expression on college campuses.
“One thing is for sure, this is not the time to retreat to our private and protected spaces, and instead I will argue it’s the time to come together as a community. It’s the time to celebrate diversity, but to be inclusive in doing so,” Kustra said.
Beyond the politically charged commentary, Kustra stressed the importance of preserving the future of the liberal arts, building a stronger enrollment base and preparing students with skills for the workforce. The potential of a transdisciplinary education and providing students with experience and a diploma remains one of Kustra’s main goals.
The address was overall a straightforward and relevant reaction to the current state of the United States in relation to Boise State University.
“Here at Boise State we also have to be committed to fostering continued dialogue and education to combat ignorance and hatred,” said Kustra.