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From the Vice President

Practicing “The Art of Fulfillment”

I’ll begin this note with a bit of good news. Thanks to the support of alumni and friends, and the hard work of the Alumni Association and volunteers, we set a new record for funds raised at our Alumni Auction Gala. At this time, it’s expected we will reach $650,000 net, and it’s quite moving to think of the many students who will benefit as a result.

Perhaps what’s even more inspiring, is that we also set a record in the “paddle up” for scholarships. These are pledges made by donors who raise their paddle to the auctioneer’s calls for cash donations. These gifts are particularly generous, because they’re without reciprocation (other than a tax deduction). In one night, donors raised their paddles pledging $167,000 in scholarships!

Now, while these gifts can be thought of as without reciprocation (in contrast to bids on items) we can also take a different view— that of making a difference in the quality of people’s lives.

One of the most popular TED Talks with more than 14 million views is one by an expert in leadership psychology, Tony Robbins. In it, he explores the “invisible forces” that motivate our actions—why we do what we do. He observes that we don’t work in our self-interest all of the time and examines what drives us.

Robbins poses the question, “what is it that shapes us?” And he challenges people to explore their personal world view and values today in order to contribute more in the future.

In exploring human needs essential to fulfillment, Robbins narrows in on significance, connection and the need to give. He explains how emotion is a great force that shapes our ability to contribute. He calls it “the art of fulfillment.” That’s how I see the act of giving to scholarships at Boise State—the art of fulfillment in practice when we decide to give—to shape someone’s destiny with the gift of scholarship.

At Boise State, we’re shaping destiny every day through scholarships. Our campaign “Extraordinary Times. Extraordinary Opportunities” has raised more than $15.8 million of our $25 million goal—evidence of many caring people practicing the art of fulfillment in support of Boise State.

Laura-Signature

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

Local Donor Impact Has Global Reach

It’s not every day that a gift to the university comes in the form of organisms thought to be among the oldest living things on earth. However, it did happen recently here at Boise State. It reminded us that gifts come in different shapes, sizes and forms, and that the impact of giving also can look very different, at least at first glance. Consider these two examples of impact:

  • Rejuvenating an entire ecosystem and making important discoveries in climate change and pollution rates.
  • Restoring and revitalizing a major national park in Mozambique, Africa.

These are actual outcomes—the impact of donors supporting Boise State in very different, yet related, life-changing work in partnership with the university’s department of biology. The two forward-thinking donors are Dr. Roger Rosentreter and Mr. Greg C. Carr.

Roger Rosentreter, amid thousands of samples in collection at Boise State University’s herbarium, holds Circinaria rogeri, lichen discovered by and named for him.

Roger Rosentreter, amid thousands of samples in collection at Boise State University’s herbarium, holds Circinaria rogeri, lichen discovered by and named for him.

9 May, 2015 - Greg C. Carr receives the honorary doctorate of humane letters at Boise State spring commencement for “generous contributions to the humanities and his commitment to the improvement of human welfare.”

9 May, 2015 – Greg C. Carr receives the honorary doctorate of humane letters at Boise State spring commencement for “generous contributions to the humanities and his commitment to the improvement of human welfare.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosentreter is a botanist retired from Idaho’s Bureau of Land Management. Now he lectures across the west on a variety of subjects from fire, rangelands and home protection, to sage-grouse habitat in Idaho.

In a manner he describes as more of a hobby, Dr. Rosentreter has collected lichens for more than 40 years. Now, they’re part of Boise State’s living, vibrant collection at the Snake River Plains (SRP) herbarium, serving researchers world-wide. You don’t even have to know what lichen or herbaria are to comprehend the importance and value of such a gift, because the actual impact comes through decades of research and discovery taking place here and around the world. Thanks to Rosentretter’s living collection, Boise State can contribute to the kind of research that’s protecting and healing our planet—tracking climate change, pollution rates, and more.

Idaho Falls native, Greg Carr is this year’s honorary doctorate of humane letters at Boise State. Known for his incredible entrepreneurial spirit and passion that inspired many successful business ventures, Carr is recognized for conservation projects across the United States and, internationally, to Africa.

Carr’s financial support of Intermountain Bird Observatory programs and his Gorongosa Restoration Project in Mozambique have opened up avenues for Boise State researchers and helped to elevate avian research to the international sphere. Boise State’s research techniques are needed in a part of the world where the study of bird migration reveals globally significant insights. And, the impact of supporting this research program translates into something of enormous importance—restoration and revitalization of one of the world’s greatest national parks.

Although these stories of donor support illustrate different forms of giving, both are wonderful examples of local philanthropy with significant global impact. When donors support Boise State’s department of biology they are, quite literally, changing the world.

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

Greg C. Carr acceptance speech May 9, 2015
Learn more about the herbarium collection at Boise State

Boise State Grads Ring a Bell for Commitment

It’s time for spring commencement and as the tassels turn, grads must choose if—and how—they stay in relationship with the university.

Why is it so important for grads to stay connected to Boise State?

Professional and personal growth is bolstered by affiliation. Being in a community of peers is empowering to recent graduates seeking career connections, networks, and opportunities shared through a peer community. In fact, our research shows that Boise State alumni are particularly interested in career-related alumni opportunities.

Newly formed bonds are strengthened. In commitment to a fraternity or sorority or through community service and outreach projects, students find strong connections to organizations that they wish to keep strong well beyond college years. Staying connected allows relationships and service opportunities to continue.

We know that Broncos feel the deepest connection to their academic schools, colleges and programs (and to Bronco football)! In keeping these connections, the learning process, and the Bronco pride, continues.

One very simple way for graduates to keep ties to the university is by joining the  Boise State Alumni Association. Encouraging grads to take this step is important because membership is not automatic, and it supports the university and its alumni in multiple ways. You can say “congratulations” to your favorite graduate with a gift of membership.

Very soon, alumni will have a wonderful place to call home. The new Alumni and Friends Center will be a place to build upon long-standing traditions, encourage the rekindling of lifelong friendships, provide alumni programs and services, ignite school spirit and create future memories. A lasting way for graduates to commemorate their years at Boise State, and for supporters to congratulate them, is to engrave a brick for the courtyard of the new Alumni and Friends Center.

It’s a new Boise State tradition at commencement to ring the “Bell of Excellence” signifying the transition from student to alumni life, and a commitment to carrying on excellence in support of the university. I look forward to watching this custom take hold and welcome the class of 2015 to the growing family of Boise State alumni.

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

New School of Public Service, WIIFM?

This month, Boise State announced the new School of Public Service (SPS) and its inaugural dean, Corey Cook. Current students as well as alumni, public servants and leaders are all touched by this change in some way. Also, supporters and alumni affiliated with the College of Social Science and Public affairs may wonder what this means to them. Why the change? What’s changing and what’s staying the same?

When there’s big change like this, people want to know, “What, exactly, does it mean to me?”

So what does the new School of Public Service mean to us? It means Boise State is deepening its commitment to the community with the goal to be an engine driving the Idaho economy and providing significant return on public investment. Basically, it’s our job as a public university to enhance the community in meaningful ways. This is manifest in creating this innovative and outward-focused school, building philanthropic opportunities to support it, and involving alumni and friends in the public service mission of the university.

As a supporter of Boise State, you can expect that changes like this are the result of the university’s strategy to stay nimbly relevant in ways that have real impact. This is good for students, faculty and the organizations we partner with in fields such as political and military science, public policy and administration and criminal justice. It’s also an opportunity to refresh the focus of our centers and institutes supporting these fields.

This change brings new dean Corey Cook, who joins us from the University of San Francisco, where for the past six years he has been the director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good Cook says he envisions Boise State’s new school as a training ground for future public servants across sectors—in government at all levels, in private businesses, and in nonprofits and philanthropies.

A new organizational structure will support the school’s vision. The College of Social Science and Public affairs will be dissolved. Most of its departments and centers will be migrated into the School of Public Service. Some others, mainly those disciplines traditionally and previously located in the College of Arts and Sciences, will move to that college.

As a donor, you can expect the gifts you’ve made to support departments and programs will stay with those departments and programs. If, perhaps, you’ve created a permanent gift fund to support a program that may no longer exist, you can expect a call from a Director of Development to discuss your wishes. As an alumnus/a, the degree you already have achieved does not change.

The new school is made up of rich and diverse academic programs that will prepare students, public servants and leaders to think both regionally and globally in an interdependent world. As is inherent in its name, it is a partnership – one that requires your engagement and support. There’s something in it for all of us. We look forward to the new opportunities.

See the School of Public Service Viewbook.

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

Growing Together For Boise State

From Easter egg hunts on the Blue to exclusive art gallery openings, we’re always hatching and shaping new ways to show our donors how much Boise State University appreciates them.

The annual Easter egg hunt is about being on the Blue together. The kids love it as much as the adults do. It’s special to be on the famed Lyle Smith Field in Albertsons Stadium where maybe the young ones will return as students one day. Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain—for all the blue and orange, Boise State alumni and donor Easter photos sure stand out on Facebook. See the photo album here.

Perhaps at another level of a theoretical spectrum of event sophistication, we’re opening the doors to a brand new art gallery on campus to President’s Club members at the annual Spring Celebration. This year, we’ll recognize and thank President’s Club donors in the gallery showcasing the work of Benjamin Victor, an artist in residence and professor of practice who’s known for his talent as the youngest artist ever to have a sculpture in the nation’s foremost collection, the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. Now, he is the only living artist to have two works in Statuary Hall. This is an opportunity for loyal donors to see and hear how we’re elevating the arts at Boise State and in the community.

Something special happens when we bring members of Bronco Nation together. We are reminded that we have a common commitment to Boise State, and we get to share that with each other. We get to experience amazing moments together keeping us connected in our professional work, our community involvement and even in our recreation (have you seen the trips planned for the Alumni Travel Program)? Being a Bronco is as fun as it is rewarding.

This year, we’re asking donors to grow their gifts to the premiere giving society level, the President’s Club, so that we can see everyone enjoying what it means to be deeply connected and committed to Boise State University.

Thank you for your continued support.

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

Our Commitment to Financial Stewardship

This time of year, we notice news headlines calling out for budget cutting exercises and reduced spending. Of course, as a state institution of higher education there are implications for us—the budget informs our program and operations plans for the year. That’s why we continually and conscientiously act as good financial stewards of our resources.

Being good financial stewards goes beyond compliance and accounting principles, though that is certainly part of our practice. The greater purpose is in our responsibility to donors in the ways that we prudently manage private support to Boise State University.

We know that our donors have made an investment that comes with certain expectations. We know that your gifts matter to you as much as they do to the people and programs that depend upon them. We also know that you give with the expectation that great good will come from your gifts. Responsible financial stewardship means that we use your donations effectively for their intended purposes.

This is why we value our personal and lifelong relationships with our alumni and donors: We want your passion, vision and interests to augment the education of students, the work of faculty, and the growth of programs at Boise State.

You can, and should, have expectations of us and our partners in the advancement enterprise, the Boise State University Alumni Association and the Foundation. You can expect prompt acknowledgement for gifts, for example, responsible investment strategy, safeguarding of confidential personal information, operational transparency and proper governance and oversight. And for any questions or concerns, you can expect open doors and prompt and forthright answers to the very best of our ability.

We are committed to excellence in financial stewardship because we must have the trust of every donor. We strive to earn it—and keep it—because without it, we cannot effectively serve this institution.

As budgets for the forthcoming year are set, of course we expect to be challenged. With public funding decreasing, we rely increasingly on private funding – your gifts – to make possible the teaching, research and public service of Boise State University. And we will make good decisions because we value the trust that alumni and donors place in us.

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

The importance of supporting research: Changing and saving lives.

Many people might like the opportunity to hear directly from someone who is working on cancer research, especially if they have good news to share.

This week at the first Bronco Discovery and Innovation breakfast we heard from Dr. Cheryl Jorcyk, Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Biomolecular Research Program at Boise State University. Dr. Jorcyk’s good news is that her team at Boise State is making great strides in discovering the role of the cellular factor Oncostatin M (OSM) and its function in tumor progression.

One thing you don’t often hear over breakfast is that someone you’ve just met is on the verge of breakthrough knowledge that would lead to the development of a new drug that would prevent breast cancer invasion and metastasis. Life changing. And actually in the near future, we can hope, life saving.

So it’s a short leap to wonder what we can do to support Dr. Jorcyk and others like her—the brightest “searching” minds in research today. Research labs and student researchers, technology, equipment—all need backing. Support for research turns into cures.

Through philanthropy, we foster a supportive environment for the research enterprise at Boise State University. University Advancement works closely with Research and Economic Development at Boise State to help faculty gain external funding, partner with businesses to promote innovation, and create new assets that are available for industry to utilize in starting new businesses or gaining competitive advantages.

Funded out-of-the-box ideas stimulate local growth and the benefits are mutual.

We know that research promotes connections. And that’s why we’ve initiated the Bronco Discovery and Innovation series. It’s a way to expose our community to the innovative research happening at Boise State, to stimulate thinking and to open doors to mutually beneficial partnerships and philanthropy that will advance our collective well-being and the greater good.

We relish every opportunity to make connections with our alumni and donors, like-minded discoverers and industry partners who want to “be the change.”

For more information about the Bronco Discovery and Innovation series, contact Virginia Pellegrini, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations (208) 426-3158.

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

Make Extraordinary Happen

This past Tuesday, in Boise State’s Student Union, more than 500 people caught a glimpse of something extraordinary—the power of philanthropy coming to life through Boise State students. It was an extraordinary moment for donors, students, faculty and friends gathered around the tables at the annual scholarship dinner. Let me tell you why I love celebrating our students and their biggest supporters.

For those of us who are committed to building relationships and support for student success, a night like this is incredibly affirming. We get to see how what we do matters—for the university, the students and the donors. But what I love most is the one moment when everyone in the room realizes the profundity of our collective impact

Together, we’ve made the extraordinary possible. Boise State students are living their passion and solving real problems. While gaining their education, they’re conducting research in space, leading biomedical research, working in public service and teaching music to young children. From their stories, we can see that the return on investment in an education is exponential. We can’t possibly count the number of people who are touched, taught, helped or healed.

The actual impact is bigger than all of us, and it continues to grow in so many ways. We’re succeeding at making extraordinary opportunities—the theme of our scholarship fundraising campaign—and to help us answer an urgent need to support worthy students, we’ve set a goal to raise $25 million dollars in scholarships. Right now, we’re more than half way to goal having raised more than $14 million dollars.

As president Kustra praised the evening’s student speakers, he also spoke for the many students who were not present to tell their stories. “But if they were, they’d tell you they were struggling,” he said. 

Four ways you can help us grow giving to support our scholarships.

  1. Share the urgency for funding scholarships.
  2. Increase your gift.
  3. Set up Employer Gift Matching.
  4. Start your own gift now.
    1. Learn how.
    2. Give online.

See student stories from this year’s scholarship dinner.

Maddie

Maddie Scholarship student profile

Riley

Riley Hunt, Engineering student for Scholar Donor, John Kelly photo

Edgar

Edgar Scholarship student profile

Camille

Camille-Eddy-Slider

The growing cost of an education is an impediment. Seventy-five percent of students at Boise State require financial aid. To keep students engaged in their studies and to attract the brightest students from all backgrounds, we have made scholarships our most urgent philanthropic priority.

The average scholarship covers about one quarter of the cost of tuition and most awards are only for the first two years. Students who are already receiving financial aid need more help from us.

“The right people are here in this room,” said president Kustra. “You’re making a big difference in the lives of these students. Now we need to push to get people we know to join in our cause.”

Nothing really speaks to what’s possible in the same spirit as our students—they are the evidence that donor gifts are making a very real difference in the world. I’d like to say “thank you” to the students for sharing their personal stories, and to the faculty and donors who joined us for a special evening.

The campaign for scholarships will continue through June 2017, which means we will continue to talk with you about the ways we can “Make Extraordinary Opportunities” happen together.

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

Newest Recruit to Focus on Innovation and Design

Here’s a headline from a Boston-based magazine that should get every Bronco excited: “Harvard I-Lab Leader Leaving for Boise State to Revamp Education.”

The Boise State fan site BroncoCountry tweeted out the news the night before football’s National Signing Day: “Now this is a recruiting victory that deserves as much recognition as anyone we’ve landed in recent years. Great get!”

Bringing on Gordon Jones, the founding director of the Harvard Innovation Lab, to be the first Dean of Boise State’s College of Innovation and Design, may have raised the bar — and attracted attention around Idaho and the nation.

Jones turned the I-Lab into a gathering place that brings students and faculty with big ideas together across disciplinary boundaries to launch businesses, hone innovations and more. The college he will run at Boise State is envisioned as a university-wide hub that will leverage the speed, collaboration and risk-taking of a start-up to re-imagine the way the university teaches, learns and conducts research. It will be a lab to generate and implement big ideas.

A study by Eduventures, an organization that researches higher education best practices, shows that big ideas inspire transformational philanthropy. Ideas that set out to address global concerns, have world impact, drive innovation, or shape the university’s national role and reputation involve students, faculty and donors in collaborative ways from their inception. In fact, the research shows that a third of the successful big ideas come from the donors themselves. The findings highlight the importance of the collaborative process.

One of the College of Innovation and Design’s kick-off programs will be Boise State’s “Vertically Integrated Projects” — VIPs — launched with a consortium of research heavyweights like Purdue University, Georgia Tech, Rice University and others.

VIPs unite large teams of undergraduates with graduate students and faculty to work together on long-term research projects, in response to a community or industry-based need.

Boise State is piloting its first VIP program, titled “The Science of Art: Preservation and Reverse Engineering of Cultural Heritage.” Led by Dr. Darryl Butt, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering and associate director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, it will include students from both art and materials science who will study the science, history and psychology of color in art.

“This VIP course transcends academic borders and offers a unique opportunity for students — from all academic backgrounds — to collaborate together to overcome an identified problem,” said Brittany Cannon, a graduate student in materials science. “The union of the sciences and humanities allows issues, which may have otherwise been too difficult to address from a single perspective, to become manageable.”

Jones, will work with advancement and academic leaders on campus and Eduventures to create a university-wide collaborative process to generate and green-light more big ideas. An inclusive process that includes, students, faculty, administrators and donors who will help fund the bold visions that will propel the university – and society – forward.

Stay tuned.

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

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.

Investment in Students Makes Stronger, More Engaged Communities

It has been said that great cities need great universities, and it has long been one of Boise State University’s priorities to fulfill that need here in Idaho’s capitol.

Yes, a university must educate tomorrow’s workers, innovators and leaders, but the responsibility goes far beyond that. Great public universities advance society and the economy through cutting-edge research. They boost entrepreneurship and economic development with expertise and support. They become an essential part of the fabric that makes up a community, through partnerships, volunteerism and much, much more.

Engaging with the needs of our surrounding communities is one of Boise State’s overriding goals — an intrinsic part of our mission as a metropolitan research university of distinction.

In recent years, our efforts have been recognized on the national scale.

This month, Boise State was named a Community Engaged Institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching — a designation we first received in 2006 when we were among the inaugural list of 76 such community-centered universities. Last year, Boise State was one of just 16 universities in the country recognized by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities as inaugural Innovation & Economic Prosperity universities.

Our commitment can be seen in our partnerships with private industry and with state and local agencies; in programs like our Office of Technology Transfer, which helps turn Boise State research ideas into real-world innovations; and in our thousands of hours of volunteer and community work through initiatives like the Service-Learning Program, which connects real-life experiences with what is being taught in the classroom.

Our students help interpret language barriers at the Ada County Courthouse, provide free tax assistance to low-income and elderly Idahoans and help introduce science and technology to thousands of K-12 students around the state — and that is just scratching the surface.

All Boise State colleges have majors that integrate community engagement activities into coursework, and Boise State’s re-configured core curriculum — the Foundational Studies Program — means every undergraduate student will participate in a community engagement activity.

What all this means is that when you support one of our students through scholarships, you aren’t just securing their classroom success. Your investment has ramifications far beyond that. Your investment makes communities better in tangible ways.

Our recent commencement speaker Lauren Bramwell made the connection quite clear. The scholarships she earned freed her to focus her time on her passions — and she volunteered many hours to agencies including the American Red Cross, Idaho Food Bank, League of Women Voters.

“The scholarships have meant the world to me because they have allowed me to participate in the community and in campus life in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to without that financial support,” she says. “So I am incredibly appreciative. It’s amazing that people in the community make this opportunity possible.”

I couldn’t say it any better than that. Thanks for all that you do.

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

Our Tradition of Innovation Continues

What a happy New Year we are having at Boise State University!

Like so many of you, I rang in 2015 among friends and family down in the Phoenix area for Boise State’s third Fiesta Bowl victory in less than a decade. It was wonderful to see so many Bronco fans and Boise State alumni celebrating the week with class and joy and that unique brand of excitement that makes this university so special.

It is so heartening to hear — as many of us did many times in Arizona — how fun, respectable, polite and enjoyable the Boise State crowd is. Of course, we know that here at home, but it is always nice to hear it elsewhere!

I think for many of us here on campus, this victory was extra-special because it was engineered by one of our own. Coach Bryan Harsin isn’t just a former quarterback for the Broncos, he is a graduate of the College of Business and Economics — that is where he learned to manage a large organization and prepare it for success.

As you all know, Boise State doesn’t simply exhibit innovation and excitement on the football field (but could you believe they ran another Statue of Liberty play!). Across campus, innovation is our tradition, and we have plenty of developments in store for 2015.

A team of deans and other leaders are launching a new program called “Bridge to Career” that will identify the skills, experiences and competencies that graduates from all majors need to develop to be successful in the workplace, and then deliver them in hands-on, practical ways.

We are joining a consortium of some of the top research universities in the nation in creating “vertically integrated projects,” or VIPs, which give undergraduate, master’s level and doctoral students a chance to work with our top-notch faculty and community and industry partners to solve real-world problems in real time.

We are putting the finishing touches on our School of Public Service, which officially launches this summer to better train tomorrow’s leaders at all levels, and you will soon be hearing even more about our College of Innovation and Design, which will ensure that we continually reimagine teaching, learning and research to ensure that our students are getting the right skills at the right time and in ways that will make them successful long after their receive their Boise State diplomas.

Boise State’s ongoing success is possible only with your continued advocacy and financial support. Our alumni and donors fund athletic programs, new academic initiatives, student scholarships and other innovations that advance Boise State’s forward progress. You are part of our team on and off the field. Go Broncos and Happy New Year!

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

Boise State Graduates are Broncos for Life

This week, Boise State University celebrates the graduation of some 1,700 Broncos at our annual winter Commencement. That sets another record for us, and it looks like these bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree recipients, along with our graduates this past spring, are going to be part of the largest graduating class – the class of 2014 – in Boise State history — a record we gleefully break on a regular basis.

Last year, we conferred degrees to more than 3,800 people — more than any other university in the state. We now award more than 40 percent of all bachelor’s degrees conferred by public universities in Idaho.

These students are making one of the most significant transformations in modern life. They are “commencing” into their future, equipped with the experiences, skills and competencies that will help them succeed.

They are only university students for a few years. But they are alumni and part of the Bronco family for the rest of their lives. How our alumni and those of us who are otherwise affiliated with Boise State choose to maintain that relationship and exercise both its privileges and responsibilities can have major impact on generations of future students.

I am gratified frequently by stories of the generosity of our students. Their student organizations take volunteerism seriously. Their service-learning courses serve nonprofits, community groups and many others throughout the year. Service and charity truly are parts of the student experience at Boise State.

But for recent graduates, life can catch up fast. New experiences in the workplace — those starting salaries! Good intentions and even instilled habits of service and philanthropy can slip away before you know it.

That is why it is so important for new alumni to remain connected. To give back. To volunteer.

Some graduates may not realize they don’t automatically become members of the Boise State Alumni Association when they are handed their diploma on stage. But they can join as a new graduate for as little as $15 a year. That may not sound like much (even at the bottom of the career ladder), but it has an immediate impact on the lives of future Broncos. Together, the members of the Boise State Alumni Association have distributed more than $1.25 million in just 12 years through Alumni Legacy Scholarships — renewable, four-year awards that make sure a high-quality and innovative education is accessible at Boise State.

Every gift makes a difference at Boise State. So does every alumnus and alumna who stays connected and involved and engaged.

But don’t take my word for it. This year’s winter commencement speaker, Lauren Bramwell, is an inspirational woman who grew up in St. Anthony and has earned degrees in both communication and political science. She is thankful for the scholarships that allowed her this opportunity. This year alone, she has been the recipient of the Boise State Political Science/English Scholarship, the Stephanie Witt Political Science Scholarship, the Harvey and Eleanor Pitman Communications Endowed Scholarship and the Dr. John Keiser Public Affairs Scholarship. Lauren is a great example of the value of the return on this investment: She is applying to law school and hopes to fight for women’s rights and gender equity.

Here is a video about Lauren and her experiences to encourage you to learn more about her and see why we were so excited to hear from her at commencement.

Best wishes for a very happy holiday season!

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

Partnerships Provide Unprecedented Student Opportunities

If you have been through downtown Boise lately you may have seen the major construction project that has overtaken half of The Grove and started to dig a new hole around the U.S. Bank building in the heart of the city.

Boiseans are wary of downtown holes, because our famous one at the corner of 8th and Main streets was empty and ugly for so many years. But we are pretty happy with this one — and not in small part because the very people who filled that longtime eyesore with the beautiful Zions Bank building are, in fact, in charge of digging this one.

The Gardner Company is working with a host of public and private partners to create an important hub of transportation, technology and commerce that will help poise Idaho’s capitol city for a strong future — and we at Boise State University are incredibly pleased to be part of this effort.

When these buildings and the below-ground transit center are completed, Boise State will move its entire computer science department to a building shared by one of the largest tech companies in town, Clearwater Analytics, and within walking distance of some 20 or more of the city’s software developers and related technology businesses.

This will present an unprecedented opportunity for these students to intern and connect with the very businesses that are clamoring for their skills. In fact, Boise State’s computer science graduates are in such demand, a consortium of eight tech companies last year gave more than $280,000 in private dollars to secure a $1 million state grant that will help double the number of these sought-after graduates.

Partnerships like these offer the kind of unique, high-quality undergraduate experiences that are among Boise State’s hallmarks. When students get a chance to learn from hands-on research or real-world internships, they start to better piece together the hard skills they have learned in their fields of study with the so-called “soft” skills of teamwork, communications and problem-solving they will need to be successful in their chosen career paths.

Boise State strives to create these opportunities at every level, and we have reimagined our general education programs around a pathway that develops and builds on these skills and connections. We are taking this to a whole new level with our new College of Innovation and Design, which will launch new ways to teach, research and learn, like the developing a “Bridge to Career” program that is being designed to help students from all majors hone the competencies their future employers value the most.

We know this model works — we built our renowned College of Engineering over the course of two decades with the close partnership and generosity of Micron Technology, and that college’s world-class research, commitment to Idaho’s tech community, and devotion to boosting science, technology, engineering and math instruction at all levels delivers on Micron’s investment every day.

University faculty and administrators are reaching out more and more to our community’s and region’s businesses and industries for partnerships and insights to best prepare the workforce and the innovators needed for Idaho’s future. The university’s doors and minds are open —  we need leaders like you to help us make these next great steps.

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

Milford Terrell, a Paragon of Service

Anyone who has attended a Boise State University commencement ceremony for the past several years has seen just a bit of the energy, excitement and zeal that define Milford Terrell.

His booming voice has filled the arena with his heartfelt message to graduates: Be proud of what you have accomplished, he would tell them. And look forward to what is next.

“Is this a great day or what?” he would ask. Loudly. And then he’d repeat it — even more loudly — never satisfied with the initial murmuring reaction of the few thousand graduating students and their family and friends who generally fill the remaining 10,000 or so seats. If any distant relative of a graduate thought they could doze through these ceremonies, Milford disabused them of that notion.

Milford was the first Boise State alumnus in decades to be named to the Idaho State Board of Education, which serves as the board of trustees for Boise State and the other state universities. The decorated Vietnam veteran is the longtime president and owner of the incredibly successful DeBest Plumbing and Mechanical, but he has always found the time to give back to his state and community.

When he announced that he would step down from the State Board after a decade of service, he said he was planning to spend more time with his wife and family. It will be time well-deserved — Milford has served as a volunteer for the State of Idaho and for six Idaho governors in one capacity or another for more than 30 years.

During that time, he remained devoted to Boise State, where he had attended vocational-technical programs for his plumbing apprenticeship. He is past president of the Bronco Athletic Association and served on the Boise State Foundation Board, and was selected as the 2012 Boise State Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal.

Few have had the opportunity to be witness to Boise State’s remarkable trajectory from as clear a vantage point as Milford. During his service to Boise State and the governors, he helped lead the university beyond the community college mission that he knew so well from his own experience to a metropolitan research university of distinction with a national reputation and a fast-growing research mission.

We are honored that Milford is this year’s recipient of the university’s Silver Medallion Award – which he will receive at commencement on December 19. The Silver Medallion is Boise State’s highest recognition of service to the university. He has truly led a life of service, and one that can inspire and guide us all. We will miss his larger-than-life presence at future commencements, though we know his love for Boise State will mean he will remain a vibrant and vital part of our campus life.

I will sign off as Milford would today (and believe me, he would say it loudly and he would mean every word of it): Go Broncos!

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

Thank You for all That You do for Boise State

On this Thanksgiving week, I am pleased not only to have a chance to express my gratitude— but to have an avenue to reach the very people it concerns.

Here at Boise State, we are thankful for you.

We are thankful for our alumni, who boost the perception of Boise State and the value of a Boise State degree every day as they inspire and succeed in their personal and professional lives.

We are thankful for our community and industry partners, who join with us to improve the world in which we live and to help ensure that our students are getting the real-world skills and experiences they need to succeed in the modern workforce.

And we are thankful for our donors at every level, because every gift makes a difference to our students and their future, no matter the size.

If you haven’t made a commitment to make a gift every year, the holidays are a great time to start a new tradition. Your support of Boise State drives this university and makes it possible to continue to provide a high-quality and affordable higher education to students in Idaho and beyond.

If you would like your support to have the greatest impact on the lives of our students, direct it toward scholarships, the most direct way to give a meaningful and long-lasting gift to the next generation. Scholarships are our greatest need and our top philanthropic priority, and for good reason — they improve the lives of our students, and prepare them for success long after the diploma.

Scholarships allow students to explore future opportunities to their fullest potential, unhindered by financial uncertainty. Scholarships help motivate students in their studies and demonstrate to them that they are coveted, lifelong members of the Bronco family. Scholarships help ensure that great potential is not left unrealized.

So to all of you alumni, partners and donors, let me speak for this university and our current and future students when I say thank you, sincerely, for all that you do.

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

Giving is Living

As the holiday season approaches, we all hear a great amount about the needs that exist in our community.

Struggling families need help putting food on their tables. Many need help providing holiday joy and care for their children or their elderly. We all will be asked to donate our change, to buy extra presents, to volunteer at a free holiday meal or a food bank.

We will want to give, and that is good — philanthropy creates healthy, robust and dynamic communities.

But here is something to consider as well: This act of giving can help the giver, perhaps more than you think.

Dr. Douglas Lawson examined this connection in his book, “Give to Live: How Giving Can Change Your Life.”

A successful life, he found, is full of meaning, cooperation and compassion. Americans know this — and through lean and prosperous years alike, we always have given more to charity than we did the year before.

There are emotional and spiritual rewards for helping others. Some see increase in self-acceptance, better concentration or an improved ability to cope with stress and crisis. Giving, to others, brings clarity, peace of mind, a greater connection to one’s faith.

And these rewards have been shown to manifest physically in longer lives, stronger health, better sleep, improved cardiovascular and immune system functioning and much more.

Much like stress can accumulate over time and cause negative effects, love and gratitude can add up as well. As Dr. Lawson concludes, giving can change America, but it can also change your life — and the lives of everyone in the community and far beyond.

These are the benefits when you make philanthropy a way of life, when you realize that the only way to live fully is to give fully. Giving, in a very real sense, IS living, because through giving we make our lives better in countless ways.

When we build this culture of giving, we build it to last for generations. Modern medical and social sciences agree that a person’s patterns of generosity are formed during the first four or five years of life. What we do as parents is especially important in determining whether our children become adults who share easily and support others.

As Dr. Lawson writes, when we give to others — when we share our time, our talents and our treasure — we do not end up with less in our accounts, but more.

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

The Changing Face of Philanthropy

The face of philanthropy is changing — and that is creating opportunities for both institutions and donors that will help all of us reach our goals to leave our communities, our nation and our world stronger and more vibrant than ever before.

Take, for example, the ever-increasing role of women in higher education and philanthropy.

This may not surprise you (or at least half of you!) — but women volunteer at a higher rate than men across all age groups and all educational levels. Female-headed households are more likely to give to charity than male-headed homes.

Women have a keen interest in programs for girls and women, but they are leaders in funding all causes. Surveys show that they are more likely than men to be motivated by helping those with less. They are more likely to give because they believe it makes a difference.

Women look closely to be sure the organizations they support are run efficiently, but they desire to “give back” to their communities.

And they have a lot to give — not just in time, but in financial support. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women are surpassing men in terms of educational attainment, representing 67 percent of college graduates and 51 percent of the nation’s PhDs.

American women age 50 and over control $19 trillion in net worth and own more than three-fourth’s of the nation’s total wealth.

You may want to read that sentence again. I know I did when I first read it.

Women today have incredible power to do good — and here is the best part: They quite often want to do it together. These same surveys indicate that women philanthropists value collective experiences, community and connection.

All of these factors have major implications on philanthropy at Boise State, across our nation and in the world. Something to think about.

At Boise State, it means that meaningful lifetime engagement with our alumni and friends is critical. Opportunities where donors work together to compound the reach and influence of their individual contributions are more and more important. Joining the Boise State Alumni Association, for example, is an easy and effective way to pool resources with other Broncos to help future Broncos get a great start. Others have united together and leveraged their employers’ matching gift programs to endow scholarships that each may not have been able to afford alone.

It also means being excellent stewards. Showing donors the impact of their gifts is paramount.

Every gift makes a difference, no matter its size or scope. The face of philanthropy is changing. More and more people are finding ways to make possible what otherwise may be impossible. They empower, and they inspire.

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

Boise State Still Growing, Improving Each Year

Last week we announced that Boise State’s student body has climbed 1.2 percent this year to 22,259.

We are excited about this increase because it counters the trend around Idaho and the country — the total number of college students in the United States had been dropping for two years in a row.

We have welcomed more in-state students, seen an even bigger jump in out-of-state students, and, importantly, there have been great improvements among some of the key groups of potential students we know we need to reach and engage. The number of Hispanic and Latino students on campus increased by 14 percent, for example.

This ethnic, socio-economic and geographical diversity is important on campus. Having students from different backgrounds, locations and family experiences boosts the education of all Boise State students. Not only do the students learn from and challenge each other, but their habits and expectations can help change the culture of a campus.

More and more of our students and parents — especially those paying out-of-state tuition — expect that they and their Boise State students will complete their degrees on time and on budget. Fewer students and parents want to amass the expense of taking extra years to finish. That attitude is spreading.

Our first-time freshmen are more likely to stay on track as sophomores, and then as juniors and seniors. In less than a decade, our four-year graduation rate has more than doubled and the six-year rate has increased by more than two-thirds.

Assuring the timely completion of degrees is just a part of how Boise State keeps college affordable and attainable. For example, we offer Finish in Four Program to help students with academic planning, course registration and career guidance. If a student sticks with the program, Boise State guarantees the courses needed for degree completion.

Scholarships, our greatest need and our top philanthropic priority, remain the most direct way that we can impact the lives of students. When students stay focused on earning their diplomas and staying on track to graduate on time, these scholarship dollars are even more valuable.

When you look at our trajectory in enrollment, retention and graduation, you realize that improvements like these are exactly why Boise State has gone through such a dramatic transformation, and expended the incredible effort needed to more than double our graduate offerings, boost research efforts and become a metropolitan research university of distinction.

It is paying off — for students, families and the employers of Idaho.

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

Learning Goes Far Beyond One’s Major

What is a college education worth?

It’s an often-asked question that implies a simple, quantitative – even monetary – answer. And while it’s easy to respond to this question in that way, especially given the unquestioned rising cost of going to college, such an answer belies the true opportunities that a college education offers to those truly willing and able to embrace the experience.

First, the easy answer. As study after study has shown those with a college degree earn higher wages – about $1 million more over their working lives. Nationally, the median salary for those with a bachelor’s degree is around $45,000, while those with a high school diploma earn about $28,000. The calculation is pretty simple when done this way. But it misses, I think, the real value of the college experience.

Being able to go to college, or attending a specific university, or even choosing a major in college is about more than getting a job. It’s about seeking out every opportunity, both inside and outside of the classroom, to learn about yourself, your peers, your community and your world. It’s about engaging with the issues of the day, gaining the confidence to understand what you can contribute to any effort and learning as much from your classmates as you do from your professor.

Certainly, learning a trade and getting a job is very valuable. Learning to build upon those hard skills by establishing collaborative relationships, effectively communicating your ideas, actively solving problems and thinking critically is invaluable. Those are the soft skills, insights and flexible competencies that will apply to a lifetime of work and citizenship, no matter what profession you pursue.

Everyone capable of succeeding in college should be given that opportunity. But for many, the ability to focus on their education in this way – to get the most value from it possible – is a luxury they just cannot afford. Many work or borrow money just to make ends meet while going to school. Time not spent in class or studying is often spent making a living or raising a family.

That’s why building private support for student scholarships is Boise State’s greatest need and top philanthropic priority. Scholarships allow students to focus on gaining the most from their Boise State experience. Rather than worrying about job to a pay the bills, well-supported students can spend their time studying, working at internships, conducting undergraduate research or volunteering on campus or in the community. They engage with peers and learn more deeply from faculty mentors. They find a much deeper satisfaction from their Boise State experience.

So what is a college education worth? It’s worth whatever someone can or is willing to put into it. The boundaries of learning stretch far beyond the curriculum of one’s chosen major. And if the lessons are learned right, they continue long after one’s degree is earned.

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