It has been said that great cities need great universities, and it has long been one of Boise State University’s priorities to fulfill that need here in Idaho’s capitol.
Yes, a university must educate tomorrow’s workers, innovators and leaders, but the responsibility goes far beyond that. Great public universities advance society and the economy through cutting-edge research. They boost entrepreneurship and economic development with expertise and support. They become an essential part of the fabric that makes up a community, through partnerships, volunteerism and much, much more.
Engaging with the needs of our surrounding communities is one of Boise State’s overriding goals — an intrinsic part of our mission as a metropolitan research university of distinction.
In recent years, our efforts have been recognized on the national scale.
This month, Boise State was named a Community Engaged Institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching — a designation we first received in 2006 when we were among the inaugural list of 76 such community-centered universities. Last year, Boise State was one of just 16 universities in the country recognized by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities as inaugural Innovation & Economic Prosperity universities.
Our commitment can be seen in our partnerships with private industry and with state and local agencies; in programs like our Office of Technology Transfer, which helps turn Boise State research ideas into real-world innovations; and in our thousands of hours of volunteer and community work through initiatives like the Service-Learning Program, which connects real-life experiences with what is being taught in the classroom.
Our students help interpret language barriers at the Ada County Courthouse, provide free tax assistance to low-income and elderly Idahoans and help introduce science and technology to thousands of K-12 students around the state — and that is just scratching the surface.
All Boise State colleges have majors that integrate community engagement activities into coursework, and Boise State’s re-configured core curriculum — the Foundational Studies Program — means every undergraduate student will participate in a community engagement activity.
What all this means is that when you support one of our students through scholarships, you aren’t just securing their classroom success. Your investment has ramifications far beyond that. Your investment makes communities better in tangible ways.
Our recent commencement speaker Lauren Bramwell made the connection quite clear. The scholarships she earned freed her to focus her time on her passions — and she volunteered many hours to agencies including the American Red Cross, Idaho Food Bank, League of Women Voters.
“The scholarships have meant the world to me because they have allowed me to participate in the community and in campus life in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to without that financial support,” she says. “So I am incredibly appreciative. It’s amazing that people in the community make this opportunity possible.”
I couldn’t say it any better than that. Thanks for all that you do.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.