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From the Vice President

Investment in Higher Education Pays off Locally and Nationally

I am sure you have heard about our recent distinguished visitor. Wherever you stand on national politics today, it is still exciting to think about the President of the United States coming to our Boise State University campus and praising the work we are doing to educate tomorrow’s leaders and boost Idaho’s economy.

Along with speaking to a campus crowd of more than 6,000 people this month, President Barack Obama toured Boise State’s New Product Development lab, which helps local entrepreneurs and businesses design and prototype new components and products, and gives Boise State students a unique chance to tackle these real-world problems alongside private-sector partners who often hire these students when they graduate.

“The work you do here is one of the reasons why Boise is one of our top cities for tech startups,” Obama said. “And that means we shouldn’t just be celebrating your work, we should be investing in it.  We should make sure our businesses have everything they need to innovate, expand in this 21st century economy.”

The President was talking about government investment, of course, but that is just a portion of Boise State’s valuable revenue. Our friends and alumni make sure we offer the scholarships and support the programs we need to attract this kind of national attention.

The payoff is swift and direct. As the President said, investment in higher education leads to new inventions and helps launch the manufacturers who can make those inventions here in America.

One of this “young generation of innovators and entrepreneurs” that he was talking about may very well be Boise State’s own Camille Eddy, a sophomore mechanical engineering major that introduced the President here on campus. Since, she has been featured in stories around the state and beyond as a great example of how providing access to higher education and support to more and more Americans can only boost our country’s prospects.

“She’s a great example of why we’re encouraging more women and more minorities to study in high-paying fields that traditionally they haven’t always participated in — in math and science and engineering and technology,” Obama said. “Camille has done research for NASA.  She’s gotten real job experience with industry partners. She’s the leader of your Microgravity Team. And, by the way, she’s a sophomore. So by the time she’s done — she might invent time travel by the time she’s done here at Boise.” (watch the clip)

“The point is, I want every American to have the kinds of chances that Camille has.”

The President himself did a fine job of outlining the importance of investing in our higher education institutions.

“Educating our young people, creating good jobs, being competitive, those things shouldn’t be controversial,” he said. “But where too often we run onto the rocks, where the debate starts getting difficult, is how do we pay for these investments. Because it requires dollars. The labs here and the infrastructure that we need, those things don’t just pop up for free.”

Students like Camille have opportunities here at Boise State because of donor investment. Camille is the recipient of the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation Scholarship – a scholarship that provides access and affordability. Investment that pays off on the local and national stage. Just ask the President.

Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.

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