Skip to Main Content

From the Vice President

Grateful Reflections of Our Collective Impact

For many Boise State alumni and friends, the fall season provides us an opportunity to review the year’s accomplishments and take stock in our success and lessons learned as we enter the holiday season. Together, we’ve had tremendous success in creating impact for our students, faculty, researchers, and the growth of Idaho’s metropolitan research university of distinction.

While contemplating this year’s activities, I’m grateful for the shared values we here at Boise State collectively use to guide our efforts – respect, responsibility, citizenship, trustworthiness, care, fairness and academic excellence. Using these values as our bedrock for achievement, we can address local problems from a global perspective, learn from our past to inform our future, and educate students for engaged citizenship.

I also smile with prolific gratitude knowing many of our successes are achieved thanks to the generous contributions of your time and talents, as well as your financial commitment. Your loyalty empowers us to enhance our educational programs, maintain a strong and distinguished faculty, and increase our students’ opportunities through education, research and outreach.

Today, Boise State programs rank among the nation’s best, discoveries in research advance the intellectual capital of the region, and a growing campus attracts student and faculty from across the nation.

It’s through your commitment to our success that our Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Opportunities scholarship campaign has created a lasting impact towards the merit- and needs-based scholarships so many of our students rely on for an accessible and affordable university education.

We know there is more to be accomplished to ensure our continued growth and success. In fact, we are pleased about current discussions, most recently in the Boise Weekly, about ways for the Idaho Legislature to increase investment in higher education, update state allocation formulas and equalize per-student funding to benefit all Idahoans. Your advocacy on behalf of Boise State and all of Idaho’s public higher education institutions is appreciated, as well.

Thank you for your role in our collective success, and best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.

With gratitude,


Laura Simic

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




Making Memories – 2017 Trips are Planned and Taking Reservations

No matter where in the world our alumni members go, our greatest journey is always the one we take together. I recently returned from an amazing and memorable alumni campus abroad trip to Spain with AHI, our Alumni Travel Program partner. This particular trip was designed especially for alumni to travel together to new places, learn about history and culture, get inspired, make new connections and bring our unique stories home to share.

My mother accompanied me and we traveled with a few more adventurous people from Marquette University, Douglass College and the National Trust. (It takes a minimum of 15 travelers from Boise State Alumni Association to have an exclusive Boise State trip.) We shared many “small world” moments with common connections and interests. And did we have fun!

Picture of Laura and Erdine Simic

San Sebastian: La Concha Beach Promenade, with my mom, Erdine.

Boise State alumni traveling together abroad is not only about discounts and convenience, though these are certainly added benefits for members. Our trips are planned to include incredible learning experiences including exclusive access to sites and experts with unique tours and engaging lectures. An exciting exchange takes place when we visit new places and participate in unfamiliar customs and cultures. We think differently, make new connections and grow new ideas and understanding.

Our group marveled at the Gaudi architecture of Barcelona, tasted wonderful wine in the vineyards of the Penedes region, explored the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, walked the route run by the bulls in Pamplona (no bulls this time), and enjoyed the beautiful beaches, promenades and public art in San Sebastian. We also learned, from local university professors, about the history and politics of Catalonia and the Basque Country, the inspiration and techniques of Antoni Gaudi, and Ernest Hemingway’s experience in and influence on Spain. We shared a meal with local residents who answered our questions about local life and customs. Of course, there was plenty of good wine, great food and delightful company.

Representing! From Barcelona, Port Olympic, fish sculpture "Peix" by Frank Gehry

Representing! From Barcelona, Port Olympic, fish sculpture “Peix” by Frank Gehry

Traveling on alumni association trips with AHI provides the perfect balance between optional group activities and free time to explore on one’s own. The best part is that everything is first class, yet affordable, and every detail is anticipated. For example, I asked our travel director, a young man who grew up in San Sabastian and attended college in Barcelona, where I might buy some camera batteries and he reached into his bag an handed me four fresh batteries. He recommended off-the-beaten-path places to eat fantastic local food and, when my mom and I were departing for home at the very early hour of 5 a.m., he met us in the hotel lobby with breakfast packed to go. Since all guides and lecturers are local, the experience is brought even closer – and it doesn’t hurt to have a multi-lingual translator close by.

The Boise State Alumni Association makes unforgettable journeys possible for members and their friends and families. Connect to the world and each other through our Alumni Travel Program. Join us on this delightful adventure in discovery!


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

2017 Trips

  • Chile and Argentina: March 18-30
  • Switzerland: June 7-17
  • Canada and New England: Oct. 3-13

For details visit our website or call 800-323-7373.


It’s Cancer Awareness Month. How Boise State is Helping The Cause

It’s a fitting time to celebrate the great work of someone who is making great strides in cancer research—Dr. Julia Oxford, a Boise State University professor of biology and director of the Biomolecular Research Center. October is Cancer Awareness month at Boise State; its purpose is to educate and raise support in several forms. Perhaps many of us are thinking of someone dear to us at this time. Surely, those who work in research at Boise State are thinking of everyone in need of advances in the field of cancer treatment and prevention.

Our alumni, donors and friends are stepping up in support of research not only now, but year-round. For example,  Duane and Lori Stueckle  made a $1.5 million gift to endow a chair in the department of biology. The Stueckles learned about Oxford’s research in 2005 and began investing in her work and faculty position, ensuring Oxford’s research would stay at Boise State. Their gift provides annual support for an existing faculty member involved in research and teaching with biomedical applications.

The impact of the Stueckle’s support begins with Dr. Oxford, and is amplified through the work of her team. Her program recently received a $10 million research grant to establish a prestigious Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Matrix Biology at Boise State. Oxford’s program is one of several COBRE projects being conducted at the university. You can read about how Dr. Oxford’s work is addressing and solving major health issues in EXPLORE magazine.

We are incredibly grateful to the Stueckles for their support of cancer research at Boise State and for supporting athletics—the Stueckle Sky Center bares their name — in which they have invested and is now part of an enduring legacy.

Earlier this month, a panel of Boise State cancer researchers discussed their research at a free presentation at the Bronco Zone. Panel presenters were Cheryl Jorcyk, Daniel Fologea and Julia Oxford. You can listen online to the panel here.

We all can help cure cancer by turning sparks of exploration into burning flames of discovery through our gifts.  With great minds, like Julie Oxford’s and her colleagues’ at work, it’s only a matter of time.


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

Freshman Class Brings Excellence Home to Boise State

Homecoming is an exciting time for everyone—from new students just beginning their journey—to the most passionate, long-standing alumni. It’s a time to celebrate our accomplishments, welcome alumni back to campus and share traditions with our current students. And, with a record number of students living on campus this year, it may be the biggest Homecoming celebration to date.

Homecoming is visible evidence of lifelong relationships with Boise State. Our students are on campus for a relatively short time, but our alumni are part of the Bronco family for life. As our student body grows both in size and diversity more and more Broncos are carrying Boise State’s traditions and reputation farther and farther.  Our new freshmen are joining the ranks of distinguished alumni and supporters of Boise State across the nation and around the world.

Boise State has welcomed an outstanding freshman class portraying a rich and diverse profile:

3.45 – Average GPA of freshmen entering directly from high school.

3.5 to 4.0 – Unweighted high school GPAs of our Honors College students.

23.26 – Average composite ACT score of freshmen. Combined SAT is 1030.29.

2,800 – Number of students living on campus or in nearby university-controlled housing.

1,292 – New freshmen who are Idaho residents; 4 out of 5 are from the Treasure Valley.

919 New freshmen who are from other states or countries.

18 – Average age of this year’s freshmen.

Homecoming week this year has special significance, because we’re literally coming home to the new donor-funded Alumni and Friends Center Building . This addition to campus is among our most cherished spaces welcoming all Broncos—from the current freshman class, to alumni of decades past. Check out this schedule of Homecoming events including the ribbon cutting event on Oct. 15. We hope to see you there.

Thank you for your continued support to Boise State.

Go Broncos!


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

Boise State’s Message to the Business Community: You Need Us, And We Need You.

Boise State University was founded by a group of forward-thinking community members who understood the critical partnership between education and well-being, and that great cities have great universities. Today, Boise State can look back on a successful history characterized by a long and strong partnership with the local business community — a partnership propelling us into the future as well.

“Boise’s research university can work hand-in-hand with the business community to grow a vibrant economy into the future.” This was the key message at President Kustra’s State of the University Address to the business community last week, focusing on partnerships that connect Boise State to what matters to business leaders.

Our business community tells us that talent is in demand — they need skilled workers, thinkers, and leaders. President Kustra presented recent highlights with particular meaning to a business community interested and invested in the kind of talent that’s emerging from Boise State.

Boise State students are investing in their own futures, and taking their education seriously. Now, more students are choosing to live on campus — 400 more on-campus residents than last year. The vast majority of students are enrolled full-time. Boise State is a source of “brain gain” for Idaho. Among both in-state and out-of-state students, a majority stay in Idaho after graduation. Approximately 44 percent of students who come to Boise State from out-of-state remain here five years after graduation — as do a full 83 percent of Idaho students.

President Kustra shared several new ways that Boise State is preparing students for work and offering relevant and valuable continued learning after college. For example, Boise State is the first public university to collaborate with Harvard Business School, offering online instruction from Harvard faculty to Boise State students who will earn a credential of readiness from Harvard Business School. We’re also growing our online programs — currently offering 24 degrees and certifications, and in the process of adding 15 more.

The new College of Innovation and Design offers courses to provide basic business knowledge to non-business majors to support the transition between college and career. Programs like Bridge 2 Career and Work U Co-op will help students gain valuable experience to prepare for their future careers. President Kustra described Gen Z — the generation following the Millennials and the next to enter the workforce — a generation determined (and expected) to “show their credentials” and validate what they’ve accomplished as an undergrad. That is, to show what they know as they compete for jobs.

The president praised the new metro-centric location for Boise State’s computer science program now located in the Clearwater building downtown amidst Boise’s active and growing tech companies. The School of Public Service is establishing the Idaho Policy Institute, which will also operate from a new centrally-located hub.

Donors and alumni are incredibly important partners helping to build a vibrant economy — from providing scholarships and supporting programs, to sponsoring and hosting internship and networking opportunities, to hiring our graduates. One way to think about our investment in students preparing to enter the workplace is as an investment in wellbeing — a reinforcement of businesses and organizations striving to serve our communities.

There are many ways to partner with Boise State. From getting help to launch your idea or business, to sponsoring and collaborating on research. This Business and Industry Partnership portal helps guide partners through the types of opportunities that are out there for everyone.

If you were able to attend the State of the University Address this year, thank you for your presence and interest in Boise State. The presentation to Boise State faculty, staff and the community was recorded, and can be viewed here.


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

Bronze Seal Welcomes All to Boise State University’s New Alumni and Friends Center

Boise State alumni and friends are counting down to the grand opening of the new Alumni and Friends Center! Nearly two years ago, we broke ground at the site of a former ophthalmologist’s office turned alumni center on University Drive. Today, you’ll see a stunning, 40,000 square-foot brick and glass building providing cherished space that Broncos of all generations can call home.

We’re very excited to open the doors to this new donor-funded facility designed by LCA Architects, and built by Jordan-Wilcomb Construction Inc. Many aspects of this new eastern gateway to our growing campus reflect the Boise State spirit. A striking clock tower marks time across from the stadium. Engraved bricks line the courtyard to honor and celebrate supporters and Bronco fans. Attractive meeting rooms provide places for alumni and friends to gather and connect.  Gorgeous artwork of several esteemed current and emeriti faculty grace our walls and common areas, including a stunning bronze of our university seal created by a team of Boise State artisans along with our professor of the practice, renowned sculptor, Ben Victor, and made possible by a gift from alumna Diana Luoma. You can see Ben, student Madeline Fluharty and art professor Francis Fox and other and Boise State craftsmen and artists working together here in this brief video.

More than a decade of planning and work preceded the Alumni and Friends Center’s completion.  We are grateful to those who visualized a place that would welcome alumni back to campus, honor our donors and assist the university in building lifetime relationships and generating philanthropic support. Dedicated university staff, Boise State Alumni Association board members and Foundation board members shaped the facility from concept to reality inspired by the vision and impetus of Allen and Dixie Dykman.

The building will house all of the departments in the Division of University Advancement, the Boise State University Foundation, the Alumni Association, and the offices of Communications and Marketing and Trademark and Licensing.

We will have a brief celebratory program and open the doors to alumni and friends following the Homecoming parade on Saturday, Oct. 15.

When the lights go on and we welcome all inside, it will be a defining moment for Boise State.  This welcoming space is an emblematic addition to campus, signifying that we deeply value our alumni and friends and their dedication to the growth and success of this university.

I hope to see you there! Go Broncos!


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

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.

New Partnerships Forming with Basque Community Worldwide at Boise State

This July’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. featured “Basques: Innovation by Culture.” It was a great backdrop for making connections and starting conversations on how we can build on Boise State’s Basque-centered programs and grow our relationship with the Basque community worldwide.  Several Boise State colleagues and Boise government representatives joined Basque government officials for an exchange between the university and the Basque community here and worldwide.

Boise is home to the second largest population of Basque people outside of the Basque Country and we have a well-connected Basque mayor. So, our participation in education and economic development with the Basque community is incredibly fruitful. Boise State University is recognized for its role in the preservation of Basque culture. Boise State’s Basque Studies Program is a multi-disciplinary program of advanced study of the Basque people offering a minor and courses in Basque language, cinema and history. For students of engineering, the Basque government endows scholarships for graduate and Ph. D. students from the Basque Country who will study engineering at Boise State, providing a cultural and educational exchange.

I was at the festival to perform with Boise’s Biotzetik Basque Choir and was able to join the Boise delegation for a couple of the scheduled events. At one, we had the fortunate opportunity to meet U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (ID), U.S. Senator John Garmendi (CA), and prominent Basque American from Boise, David Jayo, senior advisor to the Director of the Interior. We also met several corporate leaders from around the world who do business with the Basque Country, the world-renowned painter Jesus Mari Lazkano (his work is featured on his website,, and Chef Jose Andres, who is internationally recognized for his culinary innovation, humanitarian work, books and television appearances.

Photo From left to right: Nic Miller, John Bieter, Corey Cook, Andrew Finstuen, Laura C. Simic and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

From left to right: Nic Miller, John Bieter, Corey Cook, Andrew Finstuen, Laura C. Simic and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

The conversations are leading to partnerships that will build bridges overseas and provide opportunities for students on many fronts, such as international internships, exposure to global business, educational exchange programs, language immersion and preserving the Basque culture.  These and other partnerships are sparking new ideas for things that bridge human and intellectual capital between Basque and Idaho communities and companies.

The worldly opportunities that Boise State provides are incredibly unique. I’m not Basque, but I am enriched by this cultural phenomenon in our region, one with a prominent presence shaping Boise alongside Micron, HP, Albertsons, Simplot and other important influences. Boise State University is honored to be at the center of the exchange of ideas and activities that bring new innovations alongside enduring traditions.


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

A Frequency of Generosity Connects Public Radio Supporters to The University

If you’re an Idaho resident and a long-time fan of NPR programming, you may recall that Boise — even as a growing city and the only major market in Idaho — didn’t have a clear signal until 1988. Today, Boise State Public Radio (BSPR) is our regional connection to the world of broadcast radio media organizations and syndicators including NPR, American Public Media, Public Radio International, BPR and the BBC, as well as locally produced news and information programming.

Boise State Public Radio, as part of Boise State University, is one of our most effective public services and ways to reach areas well outside of the Treasure Valley. A listener-supported NPR member station, BSPR began as an amateur radio club at Boise Junior College. In the 1970s and 1980s the station evolved from a student-run college station into a professionally-operated public radio station. Today, BSPR’s KBSX and KBSU broadcast from 18 locations, with staff headquarters at Boise State’s Yanke Family Research Park, and with the goal of building effective service that deepens the relationship between BSPR and its listeners.

Deepening the relationship with alumni and friends of Boise State also is primary to the mission of University Advancement. The university and BSPR help each other extend our reach. BSPR member contributions are the lifeline that enables the operation of the broadcast organization’s highly-valued cultural and educational service. Each gift to BSPR is important and appreciated, as are gifts to other university programs from all of our donors. Donors to all of our programs are recognized university-wide through membership in the President’s Club and related gift recognition groups. Events and communications extended to donors enable our community to hear about and participate in the wide variety of learning opportunities, cultural activities, athletic competitions and entertainment experiences the university has to offer. There’s something for every interest.

Regardless of which door you enter to become engaged with Boise State – whether through arts performances, classes, football games or BSPR – your participation and support is appreciated. Our donors enable these things to happen — things that enhance the community in which we live and work. It’s no wonder that Boise continues to appear on many “best places” lists. We are proud of our collective partnership. Thank you.


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

Fine Arts at Boise State Matters to More Than Boise State

“Nothing replaces the authenticity of the object presented with passionate scholarship. Bringing people face-to-face with our objects is a way of bringing them face-to-face with people across time, across space, whose lives may have been different from our own but who, like us, have hopes and dreams, frustrations and achievements in their lives.” These are the words of Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He speaks of how looking at art and learning about art is a process that helps us better understand ourselves and make better decisions about where we’re going. Picasso said “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Perhaps this is why summer vacation is such a good time to visit art museums — we are restored.

What Picasso and Campbell are suggesting is that art is good for us — good for the soul. According to the first large-scale randomized-control trial study to measure what students learn from school tours of an art museum, art is especially good for young students. Reported in Education Next, the study shows that students exposed to museums, galleries and performance arts centers display better critical thinking skills and education memory — along with greater tolerance, historical empathy and other attributes we all want instilled in our children and grandchildren.

Appreciation of the role art plays in a student’s decision-making skills comes at a time when there has been a steep drop in the arts in our schools.  In the Treasure Valley we are fortunate to have many fine galleries, the Boise Art Museum and other organizations that provide exposure to art for our young people – and all people.  Boise State is a valuable partner in the educational and creative endeavor.  We want to do more to augment and create opportunities so students may experience the educational value of art that spins the narrative of our civilization.

One of Boise State’s strongest connections with the community is its role as a center for artistic expression and creativity that inspires and delights. Through its academic programs in the arts, including a renowned master’s degree program in creative writing, numerous art galleries and deep ties to Boise’s museums, drama companies, theaters and galleries, Boise State is deeply proud of its role as a leader in Boise’s cultural scene.

Boise State’s Fine Arts Building — and the World Museum within — will ensure that students in elementary, secondary and college classrooms across the Treasure Valley will experience an abundance of art and what it teaches us about our world.

  • Low income students are five times more likely to graduate when they receive arts instruction.[1 – see source]
  • The key is opening doors to the arts. Only 28 percent of school districts in Idaho consider the arts a part of the core curriculum, yet approximately 70 percent of Idaho schools participate in arts field trips.[2 – see source]
  • Idaho students need concentrated exposure to make up for fewer hours focused on art in the classroom. Average minutes studying visual art each week: Montana: 87, Wyoming: 83, Utah: 51, Idaho: 40.[2 – see source]
  • A quality experience is needed to augment a shortage of specialists in Idaho schools. Of 106 elementary schools surveyed, only 41 have arts specialists.[2 – see source]

Photo of Fine Arts Building

Rendering of the Boise State Fine Arts Building

The World Museum will be an innovative vehicle to transport our students to art galleries across the globe so they can see first-hand the role art has played in civilization. This new high-tech and interactive space will employ the latest virtual reality technology developed on Boise State’s campus so students in the Treasure Valley can tour renowned museums such as the Louvre in Paris, France; the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain — all in one day. Special programs can complement exhibits and educational programs at other local venues.  Here, technology will truly intersect with the arts, and the experience we can provide to students of all ages will be richer for it.

Renderings of the World Museum

Renderings of the World Museum

The World Museum will be a popular destination within the new Fine Arts Building — an environment where art lives and a place for students of all ages, community members, faculty members, artists and scholars alike to be immersed in the creation, exploration and study of art. Our aspiration — seen in the building’s purpose, design and location — is to create a nationally and internationally recognized center for arts education at Boise State.

The building and its programs will offer our community a true cultural hub and world-class opportunities for students of all ages to improve their critical thinking skills and become the educated and thoughtful individuals who will value the role the arts play in our communities.

  • People who participate in the arts are 20 percent more likely to vote.[3 – see source]
  • Social capital grows. People get involved, through the connection of organizations and experiences, to work with local government and nonprofits.
  • The community image and status improves and more people participate.[4 – see source]
  • Tourists, businesses, skilled workers and investors partake in the creative milieu spurring economic growth in creative industries.

The time is right for this state-of-the-art space specifically designed for the creation, exploration and study of art. A work of art in its own right, Boise State’s new Fine Arts Building will establish the university’s arts and humanities programing in their literal and figurative place in our community and on campus.

The $42 million project will bring all of the Department of Art’s visual art programs —history of art and visual culture, art metals, art education, ceramics, drawing and painting, graphic design, illustration, photography, printmaking and sculpture — under one roof. Consolidation of these programs into a single building will create unique opportunities for new multidisciplinary perspectives, collaborations and understandings among students and faculty. It also will foster a common sense of place, belonging and affinity among students, faculty and the community for Boise State and its arts programs.

Just like other notable arts projects in the community, this building and its impact, is dependent upon philanthropy and generous leaders stepping forward. Through its purpose, innovative design and high-profile location on Capitol Boulevard, this building will showcase Boise State’s role in the community’s celebrated cultural scene and complement its growing success in research and STEM-related academics.  It will enhance partnerships with local arts organizations and create a new academic dynamic among Boise State’s art programs, fostering a deeper identity and affinity for those programs among students, faculty and members of the public.

The Fine Arts Building will set the course for Boise State becoming a national and internationally-recognized center of scholarship and public service in the visual arts, while continuing its leadership role in the creative economy and culture of our region.

Learn more about how you can support fine arts at Boise State.


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

[1] National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts and Achievement to At-Risk Youth (2012) and American’s for the Arts Public Opinion Poll (2016)
[2] Report on the Status of Arts Education in Idaho, A joint project of the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the Idaho State Department of Education.
[3] National Endowment for the Arts, The Arts and Achievement to At-Risk Youth (2012) and American’s for the Arts Public Opinion Poll (2016)
[4] Mechanisms of Arts Impact, a typology. Kevin McCarthy (2002)


Take a Look at the Ripple Effect of Giving at Boise State

Philanthropic endowments have been known since ancient times. The Greek philosopher Plato bequeathed valuable land to his disciples so they could maintain his Academy.

The ripple effect of endowment funds is powerful and real. We see it every day at Boise State – scholarships enable students from all backgrounds, more students are pursuing graduate degrees on campus, classrooms are equipped for the best instruction, empowered learners and leaders enter the world ready to make a difference.

And it all begins with donors.

Taking a deep look at all of the great things happening at Boise State is like looking into a constant stream of discoveries with endless ripples resonating on the surface. Endowment gifts grow innovation, research, knowledge and experiences that take students beyond classrooms, labs and lecture halls out into the world. Endowment earnings provide perpetual streams of support and sustainability, allowing the university to plan for the future. And it all begins with the donor – setting in motion a ripple effect that continues without end.

A donor’s gift is, first, a gift of opportunity that becomes (in many forms) empowered learning, leading to positive transformation of the world we live in.  The impact illustrates how much our alumni and friends truly embrace the promise of a Boise State education.

Donors move the power of knowledge forward. They are the very force necessary to grow a tradition of excellence. We are extremely grateful for the support of our donors. For inspirational stories about how giving makes a difference to the lives of students, faculty and donors, take a look at this year’s endowment report and other examples on our website.

Cover of the 2016 Endowment Report: The Ripple Effect of Giving at Boise State University

Click here to see The Ripple Effect of Giving at Boise State University



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

“Our Voice“ Video Segment Speaks Volumes in Six Minutes

I welcome any opportunity to talk about the great things happening at Boise State. So when I got the call from the host of “Our Voice”— a show that hosts musicians, chefs, writers, scholars and people who are making a difference in the community — I accepted.  The team at “Our Voice” had heard about Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Opportunities, the campaign for scholarships at Boise State, and wanted to know what it means for Boise State students and our community.  The interview gave me the chance to talk about how Boise State is making a huge difference in educating our community and state.

As a supporter of Boise State, you are a part of the effort to advance the mission of this great university. This six-minute interview conveys how Boise State is on a path to enable students, provide the benefits of higher education to our citizens, and meet the needs of the community. I had a great time on the “Our Voice” set thanks to host Kim Peake, a Boise State alumna and parent, and appreciated the opportunity to promote Boise State University.


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

Tracing Lifelong Learning Enabled by Philanthropy to a Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

What started out as an idea and a $700 start-up grant is now the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Boise State, a cherished program that recently received its second $1 million endowment from the Osher Foundation in the form of a personal gift from Bernard Osher.

What this gift enables is easy to see through the growing number of OLLI members, who at 50 years of age and better, have access to affordable, high-quality experiences in learning. The Osher Foundation also has supported Boise State scholarships for adult learners who are re-entering college.

For the lifelong learners, what the Osher Foundation enables is learning for the sake of learning via social engagement and intellectual stimulation. A recent New York Times report on Osher programs around the country cites medical research showing the impact of intellectual stimulation and social interaction on healthy minds, and correlations to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Further research supports this, and as the demand for learning increases, the institute works to expand its services.

The current programming offered by the institute at Boise State is both reflective —and worthy — of the kind of investment it takes to provide such offerings. Osher members enjoy a wide variety of high-quality programming including trips (last fall members traveled to Cuba as well as other locations), retreats focused on subjects like health and wellness, dozens of short courses on dozens of topics, lectures featuring internationally recognized expert speakers, and an array of rewarding events and volunteer opportunities.

In its evolution over a period of more than 13 years, the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning continues to grow and thrive. The Osher Foundation’s support goes back more than a decade with an initial investment of more than $400,000. Through robust annual fundraising, membership and program growth, the institute met strict benchmarks required for applicants to the Osher Foundation, and received its first $1 million endowed gift in 2010. Since then, membership has grown from 500 to 1,300 members, and the program offerings have grown to more than 100 educational activities per year.

The impact of the institute reaches deep into the community as the knowledge gained by lifelong learners is applied and put to use where Osher members live and serve in many capacities.

Thanks to philanthropist, Bernard Osher, seasoned learners in the Treasure Valley continue to benefit from his vision and generosity.

Learn more about the $1 million endowment
Learn more about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State
Learn more about Bernard Osher Foundation


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

Broncos Go Places (and Make the Most of an Amazing Travel Program)!

Boise State alumni and friends can take advantage of a fantastic travel benefit through the Boise State Alumni Association. And this year, we’re going places! (See the itineraries below).

I’ve been traveling with our travel program partner, AHI Travel, since 1997. The first time I went to Europe was with AHI and I’ve been with the company to Rome, Florence, Venice, the Italian Riviera, Paris, Prague, Budapest and Greece. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities to see the world, meet new people, and share experiences with familiar faces. And I’ve relished AHI’s outstanding service. No detail is left unattended. AHI’s excursions provide the security, ease and value of group travel with plenty of opportunities to explore on one’s own.

This year, I’m going to Spain and would love for you to join me.  AHI trips have become a favorite Simic family activity — my mother is coming with me on this excursion and I’d love for her to meet fellow Bronco friends and alumni! Barcelona and San Sebastian are two of the most beautiful and unique cities in Spain. Together, with fellow Broncos, we’ll explore the history of Catalonia, Gaudi architecture, the Penedes wine country, Pamplona and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. The journey also immerses us in the culture and food of the Basques, whose culture is well established in the Boise community.

This tour features a strong educational component to foster a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and natural phenomena by putting travelers in touch with local people and cultures. You don’t have to be a Boise State graduate to join us — just have a Bronco sense of adventure.

The trip dates are September 25 – October 4, 2016. Just long enough to relax and explore, but not so long that you don’t want to return! Please make your arrangements soon, to facilitate planning.

The Alumni Relations staff (208-426-1698) and I are happy to answer any questions you might have.

I hope to see you in Spain. Go Broncos!!

View 2016 and 2017 itineraries including trips to Alaska, Eastern Europe, Italy, Cuba and more!


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

“The Difference Between a Pebble and a Mountain Lies in Whom You Ask To Move It”

Developing our strengths will get us closer to “doing what we do best every day” than if we try to fix our shortcomings. This is the basic premise of StandOut 2.0 by international headliner speaker and author, Marcus Buckingham. Buckingham joined us on campus last month for a special event presented by Boise State College of Business and Economics and our partners at KeyBank.

It was an honor to hear from one of the business world’s leading experts on teams and performance, especially given the relevance of Buckingham’s work to philanthropy. Buckingham bases his work on The Gallup Organization and Donald Clifton’s StrengthFinders, and applies the concepts to the workplace, leadership and fulfilling the quest for long-lasting personal success. He says that when we pay attention to our strengths as individuals, what we’re doing is finding out how we can most successfully rely on each other. Considering the kinds of partnerships we form with alumni and donors, “how can we most successfully rely on each other” is a very important question to answer.

If we define the strengths of Boise State University based on known traits such as “visionary, risk-taking, forward-thinking and innovative,” how would we best leverage these strengths with supporters of the university? Our University Advancement team also must consider how we play to individual strengths that are important for fundraising, such as strategic, connectedness, empathy, ideation, responsibility and more.

Buckingham teaches us that we are at our best when we are working in teams of individuals with diverse strengths, and when we know how to leverage our differences. When teams engage the best of each person, they are much more productive, engaged and effective. So when strengths are in play between our team, donors and alumni, the impact is much greater—and more meaningful to everyone.

I am committed to building a team with diverse strengths, growing our understanding of how strengths enable us, and using our strengths to maximize mutually beneficial relationships with our alumni, friends and community. This is how we discover how to most rely on each other. Buckingham says that innovation and best practices can be sown throughout an organization, but only when they fall on fertile ground. He also says, “the difference between a pebble and a mountain lies in whom you ask to move it.” Understanding our strengths gives us the power to align possibility with fulfillment and, together with your help, advance the mission of Boise State.

StandOut2.0 and Now Discover Your Strengths offer assessments to identify your strengths

Laura Simic’s Top 5 Strengths:

  1. “Strategic”
  2. “Futuristic”
  3. “Maximizer”
  4. “Connectedness”
  5. “Individualization”



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

Change, Growth and Connection at Boise State and Beyond

Heraclitus said, “Ever-new waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.” Boise State is like this — a river that remains a river, but changes with what it contains. Stepping into Boise State, like stepping into a river, would reveal many ways our university is changing.

Research is changing at Boise State. Recent news of recognition as a doctoral research institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is evidence that we’re transforming our graduate and research efforts. Boise State was one of only three universities to rank nationally among the top five percent for growth in enrollment in graduate programs in each of the past two decades. Carnegie classification speaks to a strengthening current in research and doctoral production in recent years at Boise State.

Alumni engagement also is building momentum. Our Bronco network reaches from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. with many points in between. Not only are we growing our presence academically, our network of alumni and friends is growing, too. New regional, professional and social chapters are launching. We are soon to welcome two new clubs, Denver and Phoenix, and three new chapters including the College of Business and Economics, Honors College and Criminal Justice.

Our other active chapters continue to connect us to our fellow Broncos around the world, as far away as Viet Nam.

A recent visit with alumni and friends at IDEO, an internationally renowned and award-winning global design firm in San Francisco, showcased a new partnership between IDEO and our College of Innovation and Design in the creation of new hybrid courses at Boise State. Earlier this month we joined Phoenix area alumni and President Kustra for a special gathering at a Mariners spring training game..

In Washington DC we introduced Dean Corey Cook, the inaugural dean of Boise State’s newly formed School of Public Service. With Dean Cook we will continue to build a presence in DC, where we value our connections to this community in all aspects of education, policy- making and public service.

Wherever we carry the Boise State flag an energetic and interested Bronco presence can be found. We invite you to get involved, find a community, show your support or volunteer. No matter where you are in the world, whether you’re an alumnus/a or friend you can connect to Boise State through the Alumni Association activities and offerings. We look forward to seeing you.


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

Award-winning Boise State Research Shows Relationships Matter for Giving

Award-winning research in the human anthropology lab at Boise State University recently explored motivations and predictors in generosity — How does the social relationship between a donor and solicitor influence donation amounts? What individual characteristics explain decisions? What motivates people to be generous?

To find out, two undergraduate anthropology majors, Shane Scaggs and Delaney Glass, rolled out a nine-month research project involving volunteers in a charitable giving game where they could make choices with their money — where to give and how much to donate. The overwhelming theme of the study was that people’s expectations and life experiences determined where they gave, to whom and how much.

Scaggs and Glass formed a research cohort, set up a lab, plotted their research, wrote their abstract and designed an experiment involving volunteers to test their hypotheses. First, volunteers filled out a questionnaire gathering socioeconomic, demographic, and personal experiences, then they played games modeled for the experiment. Participants were given $10. They could choose to give some, all or none of their money, and they could choose where to give based on who was asking—a close family member, close friend, local nonprofit or local celebrity.

Conclusions showed that social relationships do matter. For example, an individual gave more to a close relative (than to a friend, local nonprofit or celebrity) when s/he felt his or her involvement in community affairs was unimportant for improving outcomes. People who donated less often to charity were more likely to donate if a relative solicited them for money. Life experiences and expectations also predicted donation patterns. People who volunteered on a regular basis gave more when a non-profit solicited them. The key here is relationships. Without them, there would have been no action to give (or less generosity).

What this tells us is really two things: It’s very important for us to show our community, alumni, donors and friends how their involvement is important. This builds trust and relationships that can reach a level of familial camaraderie that inspires giving. It also tells us that volunteers are not only extremely valuable for their time, but also that the relationship between volunteers and beneficiaries lends to charitable giving as well.

Findings of the research also included:

  • It’s still important to ask. 86% of the time charitable donations occur after some sort of solicitation.
  • Personal and tangible methods of solicitation are preferred.
  • Trust (in an organization) plays a role in people’s donations to a non-profit member, particularly in getting collective action started.
  • If an individual expected others to give a lot, they gave more themselves.

This study earned Scaggs and Glass a special award at the American Anthropological Association—the nation’s oldest and the world’s largest anthropology conference. And while the team receives recognition around the country, it is certainly notable that this work which has been described as “on par with that of some grad student and faculty presentations” has taken place right in our own backyard. Congratulations to the team and professor, John Ziker.


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

Learn more about the team and their research project titled “Four Pathways to Generosity: Evolutionary Mechanisms Deferentially Affect Charitable Donations,” overseen by department chair and professor, John Ziker.

Boise State Beats $25 Million Scholarship Goal

More than 500 students and donors gathered at the annual Scholarship Dinner to celebrate a major milestone yesterday: $29 million raised for scholarships! This exceeds the Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Opportunities scholarship campaign goal of $25 million and is a testament to the dedication and generosity of supporters of this university.

It was a dramatic reveal announcing the total dollars raised. Scholarship students stood before the audience and turned over large cards revealing eight figures right to left: zero, zero, zero…all the way to 29 followed by fanfare and resounding applause.


“Even though we beat our goal, we will never stop raising money for scholarships,” said President Kustra, in a statement renewing our commitment to students. “This is the best investment you can make,” he said. “Donors are like teachers. You never know where your influence is going to stop.”

Speaking from the heart, students shared their extraordinary gratitude to donors. Each had a unique and touching story to tell—their backgrounds, chosen fields of study, who inspired them most, their plans for advanced degrees or dreams of their first career. But there was one common theme among them—a desire to give the gift of scholarships themselves one day.

Boise State alumnus and scholarship donor Dave Wali, executive vice president of Gardner Company, shared why he and Kathy Wali choose to support students. “It’s very different times than what it was like for me when I was a student. It’s harder for students to afford tuition by working” he said, citing the increasing costs of tuition and living expenses and the growing burden of debt. Wali encouraged all donors to consider new scholarship opportunities to meet the needs of students today. The Walis are a great example of how the giving cycle continues and grows.

Beyond the hundreds in attendance at the celebration, there are thousands more giving to scholarships—and it’s a wide range of people who give. Faculty, staff, and students themselves are among scholarship donors.

We have many to thank for helping us surpass the goal. Donors such as Kem & Carolyn Gardner among them. At the groundbreaking for the City Center Plaza location of Boise State’s Department of Computer Science, Mr. Gardner announced a $1 million personal gift to fund scholarships for refugees, minorities and women pursuing degrees in technology related fields. The Kem C. and Carolyn B. Gardner Scholarship will enabled hundreds of deserving students at Boise State.

An investment in scholarships is an investment in student success, and in the future—a future glimpsed through the stories of students like Sarah Rehn, a senior studying chemistry at Boise State with plans to pursue a doctoral degree in the chemistry of nanomaterials. In Sarah’s words, “all of the life-changing experiences I’ve had throughout my time here have only been possible because of philanthropy and the endless opportunities that can be found at Boise State.”

Perhaps the power of scholarships is most evident if we dare to ask, what would be lost without them? Thankfully, we have donors and champions who are deeply committed to Boise State students seizing every opportunity their scholarships afford them.

Thank you to our donors who continue to enable the futures of Boise State’s stellar scholars.


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

Inspired Philanthropy: Creating a Giving Plan

You have $1 million to give. What would you do?

Many people shy away from planned giving thinking, “I’m not old enough,” or “I don’t have an estate,” or “There’s plenty of time for that.” If you have a house, a retirement plan, a life insurance policy — you have an estate. Thoughtful charitable gift planning ensures your role in shaping the future. I’m a big fan of philanthropist Tracy Gary’s book, Inspired Philanthropy.* Gary walks you through the reasons and process of creating a giving plan with impact. I love to share with people her work and how simple and meaningful creating an effective plan can be.

First, think about your values, because that’s what philanthropy is — an expression of values. Author and fundraising expert Si Seymour said, “Giving is prompted emotionally, and then rationalized. The heart has to prompt the mind to go where logic points the way.” I couldn’t agree more.

If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about your values, it helps to answer a few questions, like: What experiences and people have been key in shaping your core values and passions? With what have you been troubled? What brings you joy? What is your heart saying?

Seven questions to help you start thinking about your values

  • What experiences and people have been key in shaping your core values and passions?
  • What do you notice about your values when you consider your choices, such as life directions, career, free time, lifestyle, donations and spending?
  • When you hear of world events or witness an injustice, what moves you most?
  • With what have you been troubled?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • With what have you been most delighted?
  • What brings you joy?

Getting back in touch with your values will make you feel pretty good. But it gets even better. Now you get to dream a little, and do some visioning. From your list of values outline some key issues that you care about. Think of a problem or need you would really like to help resolve. People often think of homelessness, access to healthcare, conservation, or access to education as examples.

Now imagine that you have just been given $1 million to give away or invest in solving that problem or meeting that need. No strings attached. What would you do? Let your values and the issues you care about guide your ideas. What stirs your heart? It probably feels easier to imagine all this with a hypothetical million dollars on the table. But hold on to the ideas that come to you, because you don’t need a million dollars to practice inspired philanthropy.

Six questions to guide your visioning

  • Who would you convene or hire to support your efforts?
  • What institutional partners would you choose?
  • What outcomes would you hope for in what time frame?
  • How would you be involved to maximize impact?
  • How would you share your vision with others?
  • What is holding you back from starting some of this work, even without $1 million?

For those of you who are more likely to lead with your head as opposed to your heart, another way to think about putting together your plan is “Four Ps”. First is people — who you want to take care of (children, aging parents, students, the homeless, etc.). Second is property — what assets you have to work with (savings, a retirement plan, real estate, a life insurance policy). Third is plan — the goals you want to accomplish or problem you want to solve (a secure retirement, providing arts education for kids). Fourth is partners — who will help you implement your ideas. This one is important. Estate attorneys, financial planners, the donee organization, etc., are critical in making sure what you want to happen really happens.

Often, people get held back by one of three barriers to effective giving: Informational, emotional or strategic. Things like a lack of information about organizations and activities to get involved in, lack of confidence that you can make a difference, or not knowing how to get started — these are hurdles ready to be jumped by inspired philanthropists, and the visioning exercise will help you get over the hurdles.

Three major barriers to effective giving

  • Informational – Lack of information about organizations and activities you might get involved in.
  • Emotional – Lack of confidence as a donor, volunteer or activist; that you can make a difference.
  • Strategic – Lack of the time, focus or support that would help you push through the other barriers.

What does a giving plan do for you? Among other things, it enables you to be thoughtful and purposeful in your action and gives you a pathway into the future.

Giving plans: WIIFM?

  • Gives you a chance to express yourself and your passion as well as your goals and reasons for giving.
  • Enables thoughtful and purposeful action.
  • Allows you to take care of future needs.
  • Fosters more enjoyment, integrity and effectiveness than automatic, reactive giving.
  • Has benefits, even transforming power, for both the giver and the receiver.

Thoughtful giving plans (including estate planning) are not, surprisingly, a one-time task, but an ongoing process. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you get started:

  • Is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.
  • Identifies your goals (perpetuating a legacy, minimizing taxes, providing for family).
  • Identifies your beneficiaries (to whom do you want to make gifts).
  • Identifies your assets (cash, appreciated securities, appreciated property, retirement accounts, life insurance).
  • Determines your liquidity needs (the amount of money you need to live on now and in the future, including emergency expenses).
  • Helps you organize your records.
  • Ensures your wishes are carried out.
  • Creates a plan that has the impact that fulfills your goals.

And I hope you pick up Gary’s book. There are so many rewards in return.


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

*Gary, Tracy. Inspired Philanthropy. Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy. Third Edition. Jossey-Bass. 2008.

A True Blue Promise to Idaho Students

Idaho’s college bound high-performers may have another good reason to stay in their home state and become Boise State University Broncos.

This week Boise State announced a new financial aid package — the biggest in Boise State’s history: the True Blue Promise scholarship, designed for Idaho residents applying as freshmen entering college. This is very exciting news for incoming students, alumni and donors.

It’s especially great news for Idaho’s college bound high-school seniors who, although they’ve worked hard to show a strong academic performance, would not be able to attend college without financial support. The True Blue Promise scholarship provides Pell grant-eligible students with four years of scholarship support — $2,000 a year for four years. Combined with a Pell grant, the True Blue Promise scholarship could cover the full cost of tuition.

The “True Blue Promise” as a name says it all for these students who are ready to make their college dreams a reality. It says they can worry less about how to pay for college, get more involved in student life and take full advantage of their educational opportunities at Boise State, and they’re more likely to graduate on time.

College affordability is a concern for many Idahoans. President Bob Kustra said at the announcement of the new scholarship, that it is” aimed at opening doors to higher education for Idaho students who want to attend Boise State University.”

Proud alumni and friends of Boise State often say that they “bleed blue.” What better way to demonstrate pride and commitment than to give to The True Blue Promise Scholarship fund?

Scholarships remain the university’s highest philanthropic priority. Donors can make a powerful and immediate impact on academically strong Idaho students who demonstrate both financial need and merit. There are three ways donors can support the True Blue Promise scholarships:

  • Donors can endow a named True Blue Promise scholarship with a gift of $52,500 (with an option to pay this over a five-year pledge). Incentive funds are available so the scholarship can be made available immediately.
  • Donors can make a four-year commitment of $2,125 annually totaling $8,500, and a donor-named scholarship will be immediately disbursed to a talented Idaho high school student who meets the True Blue criteria.
  • Donors can make gifts of any size to the True Blue Promise Fund from which annual awards will be made.

The True Blue Promise scholarships will help Idaho students go on to college, and meet the State’s higher education goals. Please contact our development officers with any questions you may have, or visit


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