Anyone who has attended a Boise State University commencement ceremony for the past several years has seen just a bit of the energy, excitement and zeal that define Milford Terrell.
His booming voice has filled the arena with his heartfelt message to graduates: Be proud of what you have accomplished, he would tell them. And look forward to what is next.
“Is this a great day or what?” he would ask. Loudly. And then he’d repeat it — even more loudly — never satisfied with the initial murmuring reaction of the few thousand graduating students and their family and friends who generally fill the remaining 10,000 or so seats. If any distant relative of a graduate thought they could doze through these ceremonies, Milford disabused them of that notion.
Milford was the first Boise State alumnus in decades to be named to the Idaho State Board of Education, which serves as the board of trustees for Boise State and the other state universities. The decorated Vietnam veteran is the longtime president and owner of the incredibly successful DeBest Plumbing and Mechanical, but he has always found the time to give back to his state and community.
When he announced that he would step down from the State Board after a decade of service, he said he was planning to spend more time with his wife and family. It will be time well-deserved — Milford has served as a volunteer for the State of Idaho and for six Idaho governors in one capacity or another for more than 30 years.
During that time, he remained devoted to Boise State, where he had attended vocational-technical programs for his plumbing apprenticeship. He is past president of the Bronco Athletic Association and served on the Boise State Foundation Board, and was selected as the 2012 Boise State Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal.
Few have had the opportunity to be witness to Boise State’s remarkable trajectory from as clear a vantage point as Milford. During his service to Boise State and the governors, he helped lead the university beyond the community college mission that he knew so well from his own experience to a metropolitan research university of distinction with a national reputation and a fast-growing research mission.
We are honored that Milford is this year’s recipient of the university’s Silver Medallion Award – which he will receive at commencement on December 19. The Silver Medallion is Boise State’s highest recognition of service to the university. He has truly led a life of service, and one that can inspire and guide us all. We will miss his larger-than-life presence at future commencements, though we know his love for Boise State will mean he will remain a vibrant and vital part of our campus life.
I will sign off as Milford would today (and believe me, he would say it loudly and he would mean every word of it): Go Broncos!
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.