“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” —Vince Lombardi
The path to leadership and success for many of us takes hard work and sacrifices. We dedicate ourselves to the study of our professions, commit to the continuation of knowledge to expand our proficiency while dedicating additional time toward achieving professional and personal goals so we may live fulfilling lives.
We see examples of this kind of leadership daily at Boise State. It’s part of our culture here to foster leadership within our students as they are our future leaders, thinkers, and innovators of our state, region and nation. And as students begin a new academic year, we are committed to ensure that opportunities for students to develop and expand their leadership skills and world view are abundant.
One Boise State leader, whose dedication to both athletics and academics is legendary, is Lyle Smith who recently passed at the age of 101. While Coach Smith’s mark on athletics at Boise State is renowned, he also was an advocate for academic excellence. He generously supported the scholarship in his name established in 1985 by the Bronco Athletic Association as well as many other academic scholarships and university initiatives. He was a leader who worked tirelessly for our students to excel both on the field and in the classroom. Even until recently, Coach Smith frequently visited campus to offer words of encouragement and to attend football games.
Stories of his personal impact on the lives of our students were abundant at his recent memorial service on campus. Many of his former players paid tribute to Coach Smith with funny anecdotes, touching recollections, and even songs that demonstrated undying respect, admiration and gratitude. We honor his dedication to our students while we celebrate his life’s work and leadership that is forever cemented in the chronicles of our history.
Coach Smith is a stellar example of what I’m grateful to see and hear every day on campus and when I talk with our alumni. When our graduates share their memories and the reasons they’ve remained loyal to Boise State, most often it’s due to the impact of a faculty member whose influence helped to shape their futures. Sometimes the reason is a member of our staff who provided the right help or experience at the right time. It inevitably comes down to a relationship. One person can make a profound, lifelong difference.
All of us create and contribute to our university community on campus and that extends to all of the places across the globe where our alumni and friends reside. There’s a place and a role for multiple beliefs, orientations, colors, creeds — all of those things that make individuals unique. By treating all of our stakeholders with dignity and respect, we create a vibrant and diverse community that enhances the learning environment, and promotes awareness, critical thinking and engagement. We may never know the profound, lifelong difference each one of us makes.
As I write this, students are moving into the campus residence halls and parents are saying goodbye — with excitement, tearful reluctance and every emotion in between. All of us here are eager to put those students’ and parents’ minds as ease. Boise State faculty members, staff members, administrators, alumni and friends are dedicated to building a community for our students’ — and each other’s — success.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.