At Boise State University, we strive to provide our undergraduate and graduate students academic excellence that prepares them to become leaders in their communities, lifelong learners, and engaged colleagues inspired by innovation and creativity in their respective fields. We know that providing access to high-quality education provides personal and professional growth that engages students to focus on their success. And to ensure our students are receiving the best possible education to enter today’s challenging workforce, we’ve made it a priority to increase access to graduate education as well.
This year, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of doctoral education at Boise State. Boise State has seen significant growth in its graduate programs in recent years, particularly with the addition of doctoral programs in biomolecular sciences, materials science and engineering, education technology, ecology and public policy and administration. The growth of these programs offered through the Graduate College contributes to more than 75 distinct offerings leading to master’s and doctoral degrees.
Graduate students at Boise State are mentored and collaborate with top-flight faculty to solve today’s critical problems, while gaining insights to become the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators. The successful growth of graduate programs certainly contributed to Boise State’s 2016 designation as a doctoral research institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
In addition, the university has seen an increase in graduates in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math — awarding more Ph.Ds. in 2015 than any other Idaho university.
While the Carnegie classification helps researchers secure additional funding from agencies like the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, other opportunities for collaboration and support have emerged. For example, Micron Foundation, a longtime supporter of Boise State, helped establish and grow the materials science and engineering bachelor’s degree and electrical engineering Ph.D. programs. The foundation also has supported teacher education, science and engineering outreach programs for K-12 students, scholarships, buildings and research activities. This long relationship culminated in the largest philanthropic donation in the university’s more than 80-year history: a $25 million gift that will help build a new Micron Center for Materials Research on campus. Partnerships with leading industry such as Micron, Boeing and the Idaho National Laboratory provide opportunities that prepare our graduates to be sought after colleagues in their respective fields.
Preparing the nearly 2,500 graduate students to be tomorrow’s leaders is one of our top priorities at Boise State. We also want to ensure students enter the workforce without significant financial restraints due to pursuing graduate education.
Funding for scholarships, fellowships and other support allows students to explore future opportunities to their fullest potential. Due to reductions in federal financial aid, and the increases in student loan debt, we continue to look to the private sector to help support the education, research and other expenses needed to earn an advanced degree.
Take for example the Stephen R. Kustra Fellowship for the Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing. Established by President Bob Kustra and his wife Kathy in honor of their late son, the fellowship provides assistance for tuition, fees, books and more for students pursuing an MFA degree in creative writing.
Support of graduate education comes in many forms such as the Alfred M. Dufty, Jr. Award. Created to honor the memory of Dr. Al Dufty, a much-loved friend and mentor to many at Boise State, funds from this award are used to pay the travel expenses of one or two outstanding graduate students each year, enabling them to present their research results at a professional meeting.
The Wendy and Alan Pesky Fellowship supports graduate students earning a master’s in teaching in special education through the College of Education by providing funding for supervised teaching opportunities with the Lee Pesky Learning Center.
These are just a few examples of how donor support enhances the lives and academic careers of Boise State students engaged in graduate education. It is through these donor and industry partnerships that we can ensure that the great potential of our students is not left unrealized due to the inability to bear the cost of graduate education.
Your support of our graduate programs over the past 20 years and into the future is deeply appreciated.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.