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From the Vice President

Student Philanthropy Builds Ties to the Future

Students are typically the beneficiaries of philanthropy at Boise State University. Generous donors fund scholarships, give to building projects and support academic programs, all of which ultimately make the learning experience of our students stronger and more meaningful.

But there are ever-increasing numbers of students who are much more engaged in Boise State’s growing culture of philanthropy. They work hard – giving their time, effort and, yes, money – to help build a foundation of philanthropic support for the generations of Boise State students that will follow them. And we love how their passion spreads among their peers because we know that involved students are more likely to be engaged as alumni and donors to the university later in life.

Many of you may have talked with some of these students through our telephone outreach program. Twenty-five very impressive Broncos work the phones in our call center talking with alumni, friends and others to update our alumni and donor records and invite them to support the university. The students are doing a great job helping our alumni understand that making annual gifts to Boise State – no matter the amount – is an increasingly important and sustainable source of funding for the university.

Members of our Boise State Student Foundation work to educate their peers on the importance of philanthropy to intentionally cultivate a culture of student philanthropy across campus. They recently established a “Students Helping Students” endowed scholarship and are raising money among their classmates. This group works closely with us on donor stewardship, especially with Blue, Orange and You (https://giving.boisestate.edu/ways-to-give/boise-state-employee-giving/), our campus fundraising campaign for faculty and staff.

Our Future Alumni Network – or FAN club – is another student group building awareness among their peers about the importance of engagement after graduation. They work to advance campus traditions while fostering a sense of loyalty and school pride among students, preparing them to be Broncos For Life through events and programs that enrich the Boise State experience. During the first week of school this fall, they helped hand out 2,300 sports bags to first year students, inside of which there was a letter welcoming them to campus from the Boise State Alumni Association. Those bags, slung over the shoulders of the Class of 2018, are a common site on the Quad – and, since this was the program’s first year, they are coveted by upperclassmen.

Our students are on campus for only a few years, but they are alumni for the rest of their lives. Building lifelong relationships and educating current students about opportunities for post-graduation involvement is perhaps the most important thing we can do for the future of this university. And with help from these engaged, passionate Broncos today, the Boise State of tomorrow is in very good hands.

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

Change, Innovation, Philanthropy and Success

One of the most remarkable things about Boise State is the pace at which it adapts to the ever-changing needs and challenges of offering a higher education in and for a world and workplace marked by transformation. Such flexibility is an uncommon trait among colleges and universities, especially at public higher education institutions that face dwindling state appropriations to fund their mission.

But at Boise State, we live in a unique culture of innovation and change that is helping to redesign higher education. We are trim and nimble, and always seeking out efficiencies and new ways of doing things – rather than repeatedly returning to the old ways.

It is an entrepreneurial mindset that seeks to diversify the university’s funding sources by building a growing culture of philanthropy and asking those closest to the university – its alumni, friends and corporate partners – to invest in and help guide its future. By its nature, this tradition of constant and essential reinvention makes us excellent partners and stewards of those investments. The heightened expectations among our donors for successful outcomes and accountability are a natural fit with our self-examining mindset. And as our success as a university grows, the importance of giving at all levels grows as well. Every gift makes a difference, no matter its size.

Evidence of Boise State’s versatility is everywhere. Our future College of Innovation and Design seeks to remove the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines, giving students and faculty new freedom to pursue cutting edge knowledge from multiple viewpoints. The Foundational Studies program infuses our curriculum with opportunities to develop the “soft skills” employers need. Even Boise State’s investment in new facilities – 19 projects with 1.5 million square feet of new classroom, laboratory, office and public space over the past 10 years – is pursued with a creative eye toward purpose, use, and tremendous return on the investment.

In partnership with the university’s trustees on the Idaho State Board of Education, Boise State recently undertook a massive examination of its operations to ensure its resources are being directed to areas that will help its long-term success. The results of this process, which are being implemented, defined strengths and weaknesses systematically, helping identify where future investments should be focused.

This tradition of change, as we call it, was originally borne of necessity to accommodate the rapid growth and complexity of our student body and the need for a more robust research agenda that would help our metropolitan and regional economy thrive – all in the face of dwindling state appropriations. Today, the dynamism of this engrained culture is embraced as a strength that drives innovation and breaks open confining boundaries, while also providing new metrics by which we, and our partners, can measure accountability and success.

How do we define success? By providing our students with every opportunity to become critical thinkers, inclusive collaborators, strong communicators and effective problem solvers, so that our graduates – tomorrow’s alumni – become not only productive employees and creative leaders, but also thoughtful and informed citizens.

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

Alumni and Friends Center Starts New Era

Last Saturday – with kickoff for the Broncos’ victory against Louisiana Lafayette just a couple of hours away – a group of ardent alumni and friends gathered across the street from Albertsons Stadium to break ground for the new Boise State Alumni and Friends Center. The festive Homecoming atmosphere was perfect for the ceremonial beginning of a building that will celebrate and foster the connections between generations of Boise State alumni and their alma mater.

This building will be the new eastern gateway to campus and a home to build upon long-standing traditions and to create new ones. It will encourage the rekindling of lifelong friendships, ignite school spirit and create future memories.

Once complete in December 2015, this elegant, 38,000-square-foot building will become the welcoming central location for alumni and donor programs, services and events. Located on University Drive between Grant Avenue and Denver Avenue, it will be an instant and very visible community landmark. Just a stone’s throw away from the usual throng of Bronco-faithful tailgaters on game day, it will be a wonderful venue for reunions, graduation celebrations, and pre- and post-game festivities. And it will be home to offices directly related to the relationship between alumni and donors and their university, including the Division of University Advancement, the Boise State Alumni Association, the Boise State University Foundation, and the Office of Communications and Marketing.

One of the most exciting things about our new Alumni and Friends Center is that it will be built entirely by alumni and friends, from charitable donations – no student fees, state funds or public bonding are involved. Its funding will come from passionate, engaged Broncos – like lead donors Allen and Dixie Dykman – who understand the importance of their involvement and guidance to the Boise State of tomorrow. There still are plenty of opportunities to support its construction.

The new Boise State Alumni and Friends Center represents a celebration of the legacy of those who have come before and our forward evolution in building lifelong relationships with our alumni and friends

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

Distinguished Alumni Build a Better Boise State

Once a Bronco, always a Bronco – a no matter where life takes you.

This Friday, the Boise State Alumni Association will celebrate that sentiment and honor eight alumni whose accomplishments and service make their lives as Broncos shine particularly bright.

These 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award winners are humanitarians, public servants, business owners, educators and executives. Their work and lives as alumni are an inspiration that raises awareness among all of our alumni, friends and current students – tomorrow’s alumni – about the importance of being an engaged and dedicated Bronco for Life. With each success they enjoy, they advance the reputation of their alma mater and build on the value of every Boise State degree. And through their dedicated involvement with Boise State, they are helping their university build a network of alumni and friends that guide and support the university’s path into the future.

This is no accident. Alumni Association President Greg Chavez (BBA, Information Science, 1985), has made strengthening Boise State’s future by harnessing the passion of alumni a central focus of his presidency. He sees how Boise State’s 75,000 living graduates are becoming more and more influential in our community, state and region, and that many are looking for ways to be more involved in enhancing the future of their alma mater.

That happens in many ways – but two are very important for building Boise State’s future. The first is for alumni and friends to become members of the Boise State Alumni Association. Even more important is consistent annual giving to the university . No matter the amount, annual gifts have great impact.

Our alumni are Boise State’s greatest ambassadors, its most constructive critics and its most important donors. Through their growing networks and engagement, these Broncos continue to build momentum and influence and advance a dynamic Boise State.

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

Traditions of Change at Homecoming

Next week is Homecoming Week at Boise State – one of our favorite times of year. Broncos from all eras will descend on campus to celebrate their alma mater.

Alumni and friends will have a great opportunity to get to know today’s students, visit favorite old haunts, relive fond memories and reunite with friends and teachers. They also will take part in one of Boise State’s most prevalent modern alumni traditions: Exploring all the ways the university has changed in recent years.

Of course, the week will culminate with the Broncos football game against the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. But a week full of events leading up to the game – including a celebration of alumni success, an alumni and friends tailgate barbecue and a groundbreaking ceremony for our new Alumni and Friends Center – will give alumni and friends great opportunities to learn about and understand today’s Boise State, its future direction and their essential role in that future.

Each year, alumni who return to campus after a long absence are amazed at how the Boise State they knew has grown into a metropolitan research university of distinction. They learn that perhaps the one constant in the university’s recent history is a tradition of change. It’s a tradition of ongoing and essential evolution that not only highlights the extraordinary future awaiting this university and its students, but also ensures that their Boise State degree will continue to rise in its value and prestige.

Hopefully, they also understand their own essential role in this university’s continuous rise to prominence. Our alumni are Boise State’s greatest ambassadors, its most constructive critics and its most important donors – they are essential to the future of this university. Without their interest and involvement, without their engagement in its future and without their generosity, this university’s future certainly would be much less bright. Their Bronco spirit, their own personal success, and their consistent annual giving, regardless of amount, are the driving force of Boise State’s direction into tomorrow.

So please, join your fellow Broncos for part or all of this most unique celebration of Boise State’s past, present and future.

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

Campus-wide Self-assessment Ensures Strong Stewardship

At Boise State University, our foremost focus is to create the best possible educational experience for our students. In doing this, we not only prepare them to lead happy and successful individual lives, but we also make this university an extraordinarily effective and irreplaceable partner in creating a community and society that’s more productive, healthy and happy.

Nothing, perhaps, better illustrates Boise State’s commitment to this goal than a recent year-long self-examination conducted across the entire campus. Called “program prioritization,” this rigorous and exhaustive assessment was launched at the direction of the university’s trustees on the Idaho State Board of Education – all of the state’s public colleges and universities undertook a similar process. But, for Boise State, the process’ value as a tool for self-reflection and improvement was unprecedented and embraced with vigor – the full participation of faculty and staff was integral to its success.

For the first time in Boise State’s 82-year history, every single program from every division was assessed using the same metrics: how does this program contribute to the university’s goals and success. Strengths and weaknesses – from top to bottom – were identified and plans for reinvesting resources by bolstering or, in some cases, eliminating ineffective programs were or are being made. Already, some of the findings are having a big impact on campus and plans are being developed for making this kind of reassessment a regular part of Boise State’s strategic planning process.

In the end, there is no question that this kind of self-reflection makes Boise State much more effective in delivering a top-flight education to its students.

Being effective also means being a good steward of university resources. Our students, state taxpayers, community partners and alumni deserve nothing less.

And in University Advancement, excellent stewardship is a cornerstone of our business. By practicing good stewardship we convey that we are competent and that our donors can trust us with their investment. Stewardship is more than an operational function of the advancement office:  It is indicative of transcendent values and proof of the institution’s integrity and trust.  Our donors deserve nothing less.

Laura-Signature

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

Opportunities Grow For Boise State Students

The opportunities for Boise State students to grow as tomorrow’s thinkers, innovators and citizens of the world – to expand their awareness of themselves, their abilities and how they might contribute to society’s improvement – continue to build.

Last week’s news about the university’s computer science program relocating to an exciting new location in downtown Boise is the newest example of Boise State’s strategic focus on making our graduates powerful agents of success for themselves and their future employers. This move not only gives the university greater visibility in the city’s newest talked-about address, it is a partnership with local industry that will meet the community’s needs with students ready for the challenge of the modern workplace – in this case, our local economy’s huge demand for more computer science professionals. Our students and faculty will work and study amid Boise’s greatest concentration of tech companies, creating extraordinary opportunities for creative collaborations, research and student internships, which often bloom into full-time job offers upon graduation.

But this is just one recent example of how Boise State students are given unique opportunities to broaden their horizons. For example, this rooftop garden experiment in sustainability is morphing into an extraordinary lesson in product development for students who may use that experience for their own entrepreneurial venture some day. And, of course, our partnerships with NASA continue to make the dreams of aspiring astronauts and scientists a reality.

Kem Gardner, chairman of the company developing our new downtown location, understands that providing students with opportunity is often much more fundamental than creating academic programs, internships and undergraduate research initiatives. That’s why he and his wife, Carolyn, recently made a very generous $1 million gift to Boise State’s greatest need and top philanthropic priority – student scholarships. He knows from his own experience as a student that scholarships are the best, most direct way to impact the lives of Boise State students – two-thirds of whom rely on financial aid to pay for school. Because of donors like Mr. and Mrs. Gardner, students who otherwise would be unable to afford college are able take advantage of all this university has to offer and earn their college degree.

Building opportunity for students is our everyday focus at Boise State. We listen to what they want their Boise State experience to be. We work with their future employers to ensure they are prepared to be successful contributors to our society and economy. And with our donors, we are building scholarship support for them to ensure they have the chance to make their mark as a Bronco.

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

A Better World One Graduate at a Time

“You can make the world a better place.”

With that one sentence, activist and Boise State University alumna Marilyn Shuler (M.A., public administration, 1978) summed up the hope and potential of the 1,637 graduates who participated in Saturday’s Commencement ceremony.

Few people could say such a thing with more authority. As the former director of the Idaho Human Rights Commission, Marilyn’s life work has been making the world a better place. She co-founded, built and promoted the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial just across the Boise River from campus and is a founding member of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment. She was involved in or led the development of the Idaho Black History Museum, the Peaceful Settlements Foundation and the John Shuler Fund at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in support of foster care.

And on Saturday, to recognize her remarkable accomplishments and hold her example high for its more than 75,000 living graduates, Boise State presented her with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Her address to a packed Taco Bell Arena was an inspiration.

It was a record-setting day, with more new graduates participating and more doctoral degree candidates receiving Ph.D.s and Ed.D.s (16 in all) than ever before. And if past trends remain true, nearly 70 percent of them will stay in Idaho to live, work and shape our state’s future – just as Marilyn did.

If anyone represents a new graduate’s potential for changing the world, it is Jamie Lundergreen, who served as the student speaker  on Saturday. President of the Honors Student Association and deeply involved in campus life, Jamie graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in Spanish and psychology and plans to go into international education. I’m sure her future students will benefit from her talents.

Saturday’s ceremony was an exciting look into the possibilities awaiting our newest alumni and the direction of this university. Boise State awards more than 40 percent of all public university bachelor’s degrees in Idaho and each person who holds one of those degrees has the potential to do great things. Each of them was a student at Boise State for just a few short years. But they will all, like those who came before them, be a Bronco for Life. And every time they succeed, their alma mater succeeds.

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

Top Ten Scholars Embrace Life as Broncos

At a wonderful banquet last week, Boise State’s 2014 Top Ten Scholars were honored for their accomplishments as Broncos and given an important charge for their life as alumni of this university: do great things and stay in touch with your Boise State roots.

Delivered by alumnus Kevin Satterlee (B.S., political science, 1990), himself a past Top Ten Scholar and now vice president for campus operations and general counsel at Boise State, it was message full of understanding about how important these top students are to their alma mater.

“Boise State will confer 2,500 degrees next month at Commencement,” Kevin said in his keynote speech to the gathering of these top students, their family members, their favorite faculty and other members of the Bronco family. “But the ten degrees awarded to you are the ten I have the most faith in. They are the ten of which I am most proud and they are the ten I have the most hope in, because I believe you are going to go out and do great things.”

Our Top Ten Scholar award isn’t just about having the best grades. It’s also about being an inspiration to your peers and to future Boise State students through your character, leadership and accomplishments throughout life. As students at Boise State, these ten led by example by being involved in activism, community service, student clubs and student government. Each of them earned scholarships, fellowships or prestigious internships through their merit, abilities and the quality of their work. And because of their engagement as students, their appreciation for the opportunities they’ve been given as students and their love of Boise State, we know that we can count on them be among Boise State’s greatest advocates throughout their lives.

Kevin is a great example of this. He has chosen to make Boise State a focus of his career and this university’s future is advanced everyday by his work. But, as Kevin pointed out in his speech, one doesn’t need to work at Boise State to build its future. Our Top Ten Scholars go on to do an extraordinary array of work that shines a clear light on the opportunities of a Boise State education and builds its reputation every day.

For example, another former Top Ten Scholar, Jason Ellsworth (B.B.A., international business, 1996), credits his Boise State education with his career in a variety of industries all across Europe, Asia, and North America. Today, he runs Clēnera (http://www.clenera.com), a solar energy project development, construction, finance and management company based in nearby Eagle, Idaho.

Laura Johnson (B.B.A., marketing, 1990; B.A., accountancy, 1992) oversees domestic and export market development programs for the State of Idaho. She says her Boise State education was “instrumental” in building her career at the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, where she has organized and participated in 20 international trade missions to over a dozen countries.

A number of former Top Ten Scholars, perhaps inspired by their own gratitude for their past professors, have themselves become college professors, including Jakki Mohr (B.B.A., marketing, 1982), who is the Regents Professor of Marketing at the University of Montana. Jakki is the lead author of the only textbook on the marketing of high-technology products and innovations. She has taught in Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, India, Uruguay, Chile, Canada and France. A few years ago, she delivered a “TED talk” encouraging businesses to “bake biomimicry into their organizational DNA.”

And Tiffany Seeley-Case (B.A., communication/English, 1996; B.A., Spanish, 1997; M.A., education curriculum and instruction, 1999) was part of the university’s storied Talkin’ Broncos speech and debate team as a student and has taught public speaking, critical thinking, and digital and mass media at the College of Southern Idaho for 16 years. Long a supporter of the Talkin’ Broncos, she is a member of the Boise State Forensics Alumni Association Hall of Fame. Recently, she was thrilled to recently become adjunct faculty member at her alma mater, as well.

After they graduate in a few weeks, this year’s cohort of Top Ten Scholars will leave Boise State to go into medicine, become educators and scientists, and aspiring university professors. They will continue to strive for racial, economic and social justice. A few will go overseas to pursue careers in international development and science. Others will go on to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees here at Boise State, in the Ivy League and at other top universities.

And like those who came before them, their success and pride in Boise State will serve as an inspiration to those who will follow them. Through their example and lifelong engagement with Boise State, they help build on its momentum of success.

“If you stay with us we can move mountains,” Kevin told them at last week’s banquet. “Every time you succeed, your university succeeds and every Boise State degree becomes more valuable. Never forget that you earned your degree, that you earned this Top Ten Scholar award and that you are a proud member of the Bronco family.”

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

Listening to Our Alumni and Responding

Enriching the alumni experience at Boise State University is one of our top priorities. By building stronger, lifelong ties with our alumni and graduates, we can engage and unleash a passion that has extraordinary potential for the future of this university.

We know that, as a group, our living graduates and alumni are relatively young – a majority attended or graduated from Boise State since 1990. As a result, they have much of their professional career still in front of them. And with each new semester and commencement ceremony, their ranks swell, giving them even greater potential for impacting the future direction and success of their alma mater.

As part of our effort to build an increasingly robust alumni experience and network, we recently conducted a survey to gauge our graduates’ perspectives about Boise State and their preferred involvement with the university.

What we found was that Boise State alumni have an overwhelmingly positive attitude toward the university and the value of the education they received here – and that their affinity and respect grows as time goes by. Of course, the results showed that our successful athletic programs are a big part of alumni identity. The survey also revealed that alumni feelings about the university are closely tied to a specific college, academic program or, even, a particular faculty member.

The survey also told us that alumni are deeply interested in career-related opportunities for engagement such as networking, seminars and other services that build on their connections to the university and their fellow alumni through the lens of their work. This isn’t a surprising result, given the large number of alumni still in the relatively early stages of their careers and work lives.

From a philanthropic perspective, the survey gave us very interesting insight as well. Overwhelmingly, our alumni agree with our current focus on building private support for student scholarships – the university’s greatest need and top philanthropic priority. However, despite their positive attitude toward Boise State and their support of raising money for student scholarships, Boise State alumni, generally, do not currently make philanthropic giving to their alma mater a priority at the levels seen at other universities around the nation.

So, what does all of this mean? It means that the full weight of our alumni influence and impact on this university will grow in the years ahead. Already we’re working on developing fun, meaningful ways for alumni to engage career-related discussions, enrichment and networking. We’re working with our college deans and others on campus to find ways to create more active interaction between alumni, their former academic programs and their favorite faculty members. And increasingly, you’ll be hearing more from us about exactly how important consistent, regular giving to Boise State at all levels transforms the lives and campus experience of our students.

In the end, there is no question that all who attended Boise State are crucial to the future success of this university. As we listen to their feedback and, accordingly, create more meaningful opportunities for them to be part of the Boise State community and experience, their role as the university’s greatest ambassadors, most constructive critics and most important philanthropic partners will grow as well.

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

Philanthropy Comes in All Sizes and Forms

Everyone likes the idea of being a philanthropist – to advance a cause that they’re passionate about or to help others with the challenges in their lives. It’s noble. It gives purpose. And it makes the world a better place.

But what is often forgotten about philanthropy is that it doesn’t require vast financial resources. A philanthropist is someone who takes voluntary action for the public good — whether that’s giving their own money, helping their chosen cause raise money, or advocating and volunteering on its behalf.

Exceedingly generous monetary gifts are, of course, extraordinarily important to organizations like Boise State that rely on philanthropy. These gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations and others form the framework upon which the university builds a broad, versatile and sustainable philanthropic culture among its supporters. By working closely with the generous donors interested in making these kinds of gifts, Boise State develops its vision for what is possible to achieve through private support on behalf of our students.

But just as important to the viability of any structure are the elements that fill in its framework. Consistent, regular support from donors willing to give whatever amount their situation allows is the real lifeblood of sustaining Boise State’s advancement over time. A large number of donors who regularly give – no matter the amount – can have an incredible impact. A wonderful example of this is the Boise State Alumni Association’s Legacy Scholarship, which is supported in part by the dues paid by association members. Since its inception a decade ago, the fund has generated more than $1.25 million in scholarship funding and every year it provides crucial scholarship support to students, which is Boise State’s greatest need and top philanthropic priority. Consistent, stable support, year after year, at all levels of giving fills in the framework and strengthens Boise State’s long-term potential.

Ultimately, a healthy and sustainable philanthropic culture rests on a foundation of supporters eager to help in any way they can. At Boise State, we offer alumni, donors, friends, faculty and staff, students and their families a variety of ways to help Boise State move forward. Many of our donors also are very giving of their time, serving on advisory boards for our Boise State University Foundation, the alumni association, or one of our colleges. Others, especially if they live in another region, may serve as Bronco Contacts or as members of an alumni association chapter in their city.

We are especially eager to engage students and young alumni because we know that those who are engaged with Boise State early on – no matter what form that takes – are more likely to be engaged for a lifetime. And ideas like giving circles or pooled giving are perfect for those with fewer resources who want to make an extraordinary impact.

So, if you like the idea of being a philanthropist, there are many ways of making that happen, especially at Boise State. Give us a call. I bet we can find a philanthropic avenue that is just perfect for you.

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

Students Highlight Extraordinary Scholarship Opportunities

Earlier this week, nearly 400 donors to student scholarships were celebrated at a special evening event featuring many of the Boise State scholarship recipients that they support. Without question, this annual event has become one of my favorite evenings of the year.

It’s a chance to highlight the extraordinary opportunities opened to students through scholarships. It’s also a chance for those students to express their gratitude for the philanthropic gifts that enable and enhance their lives as Broncos – as these students did in this special video that premiered at the event.

I never fail to be amazed and inspired by the extraordinary things our students achieve as Broncos. And our donors, through their support of Boise State and its students, help make these extraordinary achievements possible.

That’s why scholarships is Boise State’s greatest need and top philanthropic priority. With the support of our donors, our students are able to explore their potential to the fullest lessening their need to work long hours at a job or to go into debt to pay for school. They are able to enrich their Boise State experience with research pursuits, community or campus service, student clubs and an active campus life. Through their philanthropy, our donors motivate these students in their studies and demonstrate that they are coveted, lifelong members of the Bronco family.

So to all of our donors, thank you. Your support ensures that our students’ extraordinary potential is not left unrealized.

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

Boise State’s Untraditional Traditions

Traditions – the customs and characteristics passed from one generation to the next – are a huge part of any university’s sense of identity. But as a relatively young university, Boise State celebrates traditions that often are a bit, well, untraditional.

At Boise State, we look forward for inspirationWe know our brightest moments still lie ahead of us amid new ideas and new ways of doing things. We aren’t afraid to try the unexpected, yet we expect to succeed. We revel in what many see as overachievement and understand that innovation is the driver of our past, present and future accomplishments. And at the center of it all are our students – their education is our motivation for pushing forward.

A great example of this ‘tradition’ of challenging the status quo with innovation is our new Professor of the Practice program. This initiative identifies talented and accomplished business, scientific and artistic leaders from around the country and beyond, and invites them to bring their world-class experience and excitement to Boise State students. The unique ideas and perspectives offered by these real-world experts will provide invaluable insight for our students as they develop into strong critical thinkers, creative communicators and eager life-long learners.

So far, three Professors of the Practice have been named: Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market; Academy Award-winning documentarian Ben Shedd; and NASA astronaut Steve Swanson. Each brings unique life accomplishments and expertise in important fields of endeavor that will engage and inspire students to reach beyond what they think possible or what others may expect of them – in keeping with our Boise State traditions.

Finding new approaches that take the education we offer beyond ‘business as usual’ often leads Boise State down untraditional paths. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

Join Us for a Lifetime of Learning Experiences

On Saturday hundreds of children and their families will come to campus for STEM Exploration, Boise State’s annual all-day learning event that gives K-12 students a chance to delve into all kinds of fun and engaging hands-on concepts in science, technology, engineering and math.

It’s a great event and a fantastic example of one of Boise State’s most important roles in our community – being a touchstone for exploring our world and universe, whether through a scientific experiment, an exhibition of thought-provoking art, a stimulating lecture about current events or an exhilarating live performance.

This weekend, kids – both young and old – will be enthralled by rocket launches, concrete canoes, race cars that run on vegetable oil and meeting Barbara Morgan, our distinguished educator in residence and former NASA astronaut. And while they are here, they could see an interesting exhibit by a local artist in the Student Union Building.

Next week, those interested in the intertwined beauty of nature and science can come to a talk presented by our visiting artist and scholar program or, on Feb. 12, take in the opening session of this spring’s “The Idea of Nature” lecture series.

There’s always something happening on campus for music lovers – whether they are looking for jazz, classical, or something a bit more contemporary. And, of course, a musical theater production is always just around the corner.

Practically every day, something is happening – sports, ballet, something for young expanding minds, or vital older ones. Our venues for these events – art galleries, the fantastic Morrison Center for Performing Arts, Taco Bell Arena , the Yanke Research Park, the Special Events Center, or our Student Union Building – are hard to beat.

Boise State’s role at the center of the community’s intellectual and cultural life takes many forms far beyond our classrooms and laboratories. Higher education isn’t just about college degrees – it’s about a lifelong relationship with exploring new ideas and seeking out new experiences. Keep an eye out, and I know you’ll find something that interests you.

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

Introducing New Executive Director of Alumni Relations

With the start of the New Year, Boise State and its alumni have a new champion on campus.

Estevan Andrade, the new executive director of University Advancement’s Office of Alumni Relations and the Boise State Alumni Association, brings a new and focused perspective to our efforts to make each and every Bronco a Bronco for life. I’m excited about how his 20 years of experience as an engagement professional will take our efforts to build lifelong relationships with our alumni – including nearly 75,000 living graduates – to new levels.

Our alumni engagement efforts are extraordinarily important to the future of this university. We look to our alumni to be Boise State’s greatest ambassadors, most constructive critics and important donors. Estevan’s leadership and experience will help our alumni bring their vision for the future of their alma mater to bear. With his guidance, our growing networks of passionate, engaged alumni will continue to build momentum and influence to propel Boise State’s dynamic mission forward.

Estevan will work closely with the members of the Boise State Alumni Association and its leaders to build that organization’s programming and alumni networking opportunities, including the more than $114,000 in student scholarships it provides and growing its membership rolls. He also will oversee the final planning stages for the university’s new Alumni and Friends Center, a very exciting new home for Broncos from all generations.

Estevan comes to us from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he worked as director of alumni engagement and was successful in building a strong alumni network, creating new web-based tools for alumni leaders and working closely with alumni donors.

This is also a homecoming of sorts for Estevan and his family. During the 1990s, he and his wife were local business owners and started their family here; and he began his career as an advancement professional through a local faith-based organization.

These are exciting times for this university and I’m very pleased that our alumni have a new advocate who will help them build the Boise State of tomorrow.

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

An Alumni Football Fan Dream Come True

The success of our students and alumni is Boise Sate’s most important measure of success as a university – and we love to tell their stories when the opportunity arises. And news of alumnus Bryan Harsin’s return to his hometown and alma mater as head football coach is a very special story now on the lips of every Bronco fan. In fact, despite that it came late in the year, the announcement of his hiring was the most popular news story posted on the Boise State website during all of 2013.

As one of the chief architects of the Broncos’ rise to national prominence in athletics over the last decade, Coach Harsin is steeped in recent Boise State history. After all, he designed and called three of the most famous football plays in college football history.

While his record as a coach stands on its own, Coach Harsin came of age professionally under the wing of Chris Petersen, whose standards and reputation across the nation became such an important part of Boise State’s image in recent years. As a key part of that team, Coach Harsin helped set that standard of excellence, which quickly became a model for what is possible all across campus. I’m certain that example will only shine brighter in the Harsin Era.

Our alumni are very excited to have him back – especially those from the College of Business and Economics, where the coach earned his degree in business management in 2000. After all, few major universities can claim to have a passionate alumnus at the helm of their powerhouse football program. And like many of our alumni, Coach Harsin is from the Boise area and is relatively young with years of professional achievements ahead of him.

One thing I particularly admire about Coach Harsin and his family is how they dared to leave the place they love, their home, so he could gain the experience he knew he would need for his dream job –the chance to come back to Boise State. Just like his style of Bronco football, it was a well-calculated risk that paid off tremendously.

So, on behalf of every Bronco fan, I’d like to wish Coach Harsin good luck – and welcome home to Boise State.

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

Commencement Celebrates Individual, University Success

At this Friday’s winter Commencement ceremony, more than 800 graduates will receive their degrees and ceremoniously start of a new phase of their lives.

As a university, Commencement is a celebration of our top priority and reason for being – the success of our students. The goals set by these erstwhile students before enduring countless late nights, lectures and exams have been met. A college degree in hand means that years of hard work have paid off. These Broncos have risen to the challenge.

Moving forward, as these new alumni begin to make their mark on the world, they will represent Boise State’s greatest potential for building the future. Our alumni are this university’s most passionate fans, its most constructive critics and its most faithful and generous donors. And just as their academic success as students defines our success as a university, their accomplishments in life will define the value of the Boise State degree that is now theirs.

Friday’s ceremony will include two extraordinary examples of the potential all Boise State alumni represent.

Student speaker Tiara Thompson, who will graduate Friday with degrees in theatre arts and English, is an inspiration. I know we’ll be hearing more about her success in coming years.

And Debra K. Riedel, who exemplifies what it means to be a Bronco, will be awarded with the Silver Medallion, Boise State’s highest recognition for service to Boise State. Deb holds a bachelor’s degree in music education (1977) and a master’s degree in music/performance (1999). She is a dedicated alumna, investing deeply in the university, its growth and its students. And her successful career in the finance industry – she is a first vice president and wealth management portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley – is matched only by her commitment and dedicated service to the community.

Also, just 20 years after Boise State offered its first doctoral degree, Friday’s ceremony will include the awarding of a record number of 16 doctoral degrees to new graduates, 13 of whom will be hooded at the ceremony. These extraordinary scholars represent a rising critical mass of doctoral programming that is the result of a strategic focus on deepening academic areas of excellence with the greatest potential for economic, societal and cultural benefit. Today, we now have 10 doctoral-level programs that are transforming the entire university.

There will be plenty to celebrate Friday. Join me in congratulating all of those whose accomplishments will be recognized. But also, as we celebrate, know that our new graduates’ lifelong alumni relationships with the university are just beginning, and each individual triumph is an important contribution to Boise State’s continuing growth and success as a university.

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

Generosity Makes An Extraordinary Difference

We all know generous people – those who inspire us by always finding ways to help others. This time of year, especially, examples of generosity are practically everywhere you look. It’s part of the reason the holidays are such a special time.

One of my favorite places to see the effect of generosity first-hand is right here on the Boise State campus. In between classes on a typical day, the Quad fills with students hurrying from one class or lab to the next. They come from an extraordinary array of backgrounds, represent a wide range of ambitions and abilities, and nearly three-quarters of them rely on some form of financial aid to pay for school. And thanks to the generosity of our donors, many are thriving at Boise State because of the opportunity provided by scholarships.

Support for student scholarships is Boise State’s greatest need and top philanthropic priority. We know that financial concerns are the top reason students drop out of Boise State. Scholarship support helps to keep Boise State affordable and accessible to the brightest students from all backgrounds. With scholarship assistance, our students can afford to pursue and complete their degrees.

By supporting scholarships, our donors allow students to explore their potential to the fullest with less worry about how to pay for school. Through their philanthropy, our donors help to motivate students in their studies and demonstrate to them that they are coveted, lifelong members of the Bronco family. With the help of our donors, we can ensure that great potential is not left unrealized because of an inability to bear the cost of a university education.

Our donors understand that a single gift can make an extraordinary difference. In this season of giving, their generosity is an inspiration to us all.

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

You Make It All Possible

Without you – the dedicated and passionate alumni, friends and donors of Boise State – this university’s remarkable strides on behalf of its students would not be possible.

Your investment of time, treasure and emotion. Your desire to drive Boise State’s achievements as high as possible. Your commitment to the success of our students. These are all irreplaceable elements of Boise State’s progress and growing stature as a metropolitan research university of distinction.

So as we approach the season of gratitude and thanks, I’d like to personally thank you for all that you help us do.

Because of your support, the more than 20,000 students at Boise State represent Idaho’s largest and most selective public university. And with each new freshman class, our student body becomes more diverse, better prepared, more focused on earning a degree and more likely to stay in school and graduate in a timely manner than ever before.

With your help, Boise State now has millions of square feet of new classrooms, laboratories, public areas and offices. Your generosity helps to grow dynamic research programs creating knowledge that spins off exciting intellectual property and patents and makes our world a better place. and. Your support helps the university develop new degrees – baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs – dozens of which have bloomed in departments all across campus in recent years.

And through your generous commitments to student scholarships almost $ 4 million has been raised this year to help our students with the growing costs of college. Developing more donor support for scholarships remains Boise State’s top philanthropic priority and this is a fantastic start for addressing this huge need.

Thank you! Your unwavering support and commitment to this university and its students is what makes our success as a university possible. Warmest regards for a joyful Thanksgiving holiday.

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

Student Callers Make Connections

There’s a great group of Boise State students doing wonderful things for this university – and they want to talk to you.

About three-dozen enthusiastic students are part of a team that reaches out to the university’s alumni and friends through our telephone outreach program. There are many reasons they make these calls – and, yes, one of them is to ask for a gift that will help propel Boise State forward. But as Maya Davis – one of our lead callers – will tell you, these calls are about a lot more than asking for donations.

“Some of my best conversations have been with people who haven’t given any money at all,” Maya recently told us. Instead, these calls are about making connections – connections between herself and the person she’s talking with, connections between alumni and their alma mater, and connections between Maya and her university.

She’s a junior education major that transferred to Boise State from a university in her home state of Colorado.

“I’m not from the area and never really had the traditional freshman year orientation experience, so I learn a lot about Boise State and the area from the people I call. I love talking with them and hearing about their experiences, the programs and activities they were involved in, and how much Boise State has changed over the years.”

She particularly likes learning what our alumni have done with their lives since they graduated – and picking up tips about what she can expect when she becomes an alumna.

“I’ve gotten a lot of really good advice,” she said.

Maya said it’s obvious that the alumni she talks to are very proud of the university’s amazing growth in recent years. She said they often mention the new buildings that have gone up recently and love hearing about those we’re planning, like the new Alumni and Friends Center. But, Maya said, it’s really the impact of the things you cannot see that excite them, and her, most – especially raising money for student scholarships.

“We have helped so many more students graduate because of what we do. We are making Boise State a better place with the support we are getting from our alumni and other supporters. It’s important and we wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

I couldn’t agree more.

So, if you happen to get a call from one of our students one day, keep this sentiment from Maya, speaking on behalf of her fellow student callers, in mind:

“We really do care about Boise State. When we reach out to alumni and others we are doing what we can to help the university. We are doing everything we can for Boise State.”

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