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From the Vice President

Philanthropy’s Impact on High Tech and Business

Boise State students arriving (or returning) this fall will notice some changes to campus.

One that we are particularly excited about, is the new location for our computer science department in the Clearwater Building on The Grove in downtown Boise. Students and faculty  now have the opportunity to learn and work in the heart of Boise’s technology ecosystem among dozens of companies that are clamoring to collaborate with researchers and hire skilled and innovative students.

Our home in this unique facility is enabled by very favorable terms from Gardner Company and gifts to the university including a $250,000 donation from Eileen Barber, a member of the Boise State University Foundation Board of Directors. Barber’s gift established the Kount Tutoring Center that provides students with state-of-the-art technology and academic support.

Barber is co-founder of Kount’s parent company, Keynetics. Barber also has established a number of scholarship opportunities for women in computer science, including the Keynetics Inc. Computer Science Scholarship for Women, a Presidential (full tuition) endowed scholarship, and the Ada Lovelace Computer Science Scholarship for Women to provide recognition of the world’s first computer scientist. Additionally, Barber supports the E-Girls summer engineering program for high school students.

Eight local tech companies funded nearly $275,000 in new computer science scholarships which leveraged a $1 million grant from the Idaho Department of Labor to double the number of Boise State computer science graduates.  This increase is helping to meet demand for human capital in this rapidly growing industry sector.

In 2014, TIME Magazine described Boise as “A Techy Boomtown”. Since then, Boise State has played a pivotal role in the high-tech community with initiatives involving state agencies, private companies and other institutions such as the Technology Council’s Software Alliance.  Forming a coalition of private and public interests is key to nurturing the economic vitality of the state, growing the number of skilled professionals and connecting them to the available opportunities.

The impact of philanthropy also is evident in the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI), a program of our College of Business and Economics (COBE). Wells Fargo has provided funding and thought leadership over the last three years to develop and run the initiative. The outcomes of Wells Fargo’s support have taken many forms through education, research and community collaboration.

The partnership has allowed COBE students and faculty to embark on a mission to catalyze leaders to solve “wicked business problems.” The RBI aims to build the commitment and capacity of our students, faculty and community to understand and manage business ethics, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, corporate governance and diversity.

Two ways that the RBI already is making persistent impact is in helping businesses create inclusive workplaces. Wells Fargo is a local, national and global leader in growing and leveraging diversity in business practices with women comprising more than 40 percent of its board of directors and people of color comprising more than 30 percent. Through this partnership Boise State students and future corporate leaders learn and develop best practices in business.

In November, Boise State is hosting the second diversity summit with Wells Fargo and extending the collaboration to include the City of Boise and Boise Valley Economic Partners as well as others, to create a bridge between campus, businesses and the community.

The support that Eileen Barber, Wells Fargo and corporate leaders provide is exemplary of the many ways individuals and organizations partner with Boise State to provide valuable experiences for students and strengthen the impact on our community.


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

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