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From the Vice President

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.

Emeriti Dedication is Part of University’s Tradition of Pride

Last week – Homecoming week at Boise State – was full of a wide variety of great events, including a big football win against Nevada. One of my favorites was a luncheon gathering that included members of the Emeritus Guild – an association of former faculty and staff members whose devoted service to the university is an essential part of its growing success.

This group helped shepherd Boise State through extraordinary changes, as it first became a four-year college in 1969 and then a state university in 1974. As the football team began playing on blue turf in the 1980s, these faculty and staff members were laying the foundations of academic and research advances just as essential to today’s university identity. They witnessed or took part in establishing the College of Engineering in 1996 and the awarding of the university’s first doctoral degree a year later. And in recent years, their leadership and support has been essential to the astounding transformation and growth of Boise State as a metropolitan research university of distinction.

All through those years, as the university grew in size and sophistication, they devoted themselves to the university’s top priority – the success of our students. Even today, their commitment to student success can be seen in their strong philanthropic support of scholarships and other university priorities, as well as their desire to maintain an enduring connection with the university as volunteers, consultants, and mentors to today’s faculty and staff.

As Boise State continues to stride boldly into the future, this legacy of dedication among our emeriti faculty and staff is just part of the growing tradition of pride that propels this university toward tomorrow’s success. It is a continuum of commitment among each new generation of students, alumni, friends, donors, faculty and staff that continuously drives Boise State forward, so that yesterday’s milestones give way to new goals on tomorrow’s horizon.

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

Ph.D. Programs Transform the Entire University

This fall, Boise State University is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first doctoral degree and the introduction of three new doctoral programs in nursing, educational leadership and public policy. These are just the latest in a growing slate of Ph.D.-level programs that are putting Boise State’s advancement as a metropolitan research university of distinction on a new trajectory.

Now with ten degree programs, Boise State’s Ph.D.-level programming has bloomed through a strategic focus on deepening academic areas of excellence with the greatest potential for economic, societal and cultural benefit. As a result, these degree programs are transforming the entire university.

These programs attract top-flight faculty members whose research and teaching at the leading edge of their areas of expertise expose our students to the newest ideas and latest advances. These programs attract the brightest students – undergraduates to Ph.D. candidates – looking to learn and be challenged by the best scholars and curriculum possible. Doctoral programs spur cross-disciplinary creativity among our researchers, drive the university’s overall academic focus and posture, create more opportunities for partnerships with funding agencies, and attract businesses interested in our intellectual capital to the region.

Each of the individual programs provide extraordinary benefits to the students and programmatic success of their particular area of focus. But taken together, this rising critical mass of doctoral programming is lifting the intellectual, research and academic culture of the entire university. This success could soon earn Boise State a top-tier rating from the Carnegie Foundation’s classification of higher education institutions – a key framework for recognizing and describing an institution’s academic diversity. Such a rating would place Boise State in the company of the nation and world’s top research universities and open a variety of doors that will take the university’s rise in national stature to the next level.

In the end, why does it matter if we offer more doctoral degrees? Why should you care?

Because our students care. Our faculty cares. Our funding partners and donors care. Our community partners care. And so do our alumni. Because, with every Boise State success – whether in the classroom, in the laboratory or even on the playing field – every faculty opening becomes more prestigious, every scholarship becomes more meaningful and every Boise State degree increases in value.

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

New Arts Building Plans Reinforce Campus, Community Ties

Boise State’s role in the cultural and intellectual life of the local community is closely linked to the extraordinary partnerships we enjoy with the people and institutions that make Boise the gleaming city it is today. Those important ties will be reinforced and come into even sharper focus with our plans to create a new, high profile home for the arts, where the campus and community art worlds can deepen their connection, mingle and thrive.

Our aspiration – seen in this new building’s purpose, design and location – is to fashion a modern, innovative environment built specifically for the creation, study and display of art. A new architectural icon on the west side of campus on Capitol Boulevard , the building will compliment and extend the extraordinary offerings of Downtown Boise’s cultural district, including its neighbors, the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, the Boise Art Museum, and the Log Cabin Literary Center.

Importantly, the building brings all of the Department of Art’s visual art programs, currently housed in seven separate buildings around campus, under one roof – helping to cultivate a common sense of place, belonging and affinity for Boise State’s art programs among students, faculty and the community. Consolidating the university’s visual arts programming will create unique opportunities to foster new multidisciplinary perspectives and understandings among students and faculty. The building also will house the university’s Visual Arts Center, the Idaho Center for the Book and the Arts and Humanities Institute, forming a nexus for the arts and humanities on campus, in the community and throughout the region unmatched by any other public university in the state.

The building itself will be a monument to the significance of the visual arts and humanities at Boise State – a source of education and inspiration for those interested in design and visual literacy.

With a new arts showcase like this, the possibilities for creating deeper ties between the community and university art communities are exciting. We look forward to working with all of our partners to make this newest Boise State building a landmark and a point of pride for the entire community.

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

The Idaho Bird Observatory is an Educational Gem

Over the weekend, a group from our office took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand some of the amazing research being done at Boise State University.

The Idaho Bird Observatory (IBO) is an extraordinary research initiative that monitors migrating raptors and songbirds from a picturesque location perched atop nearby Lucky Peak in the Boise Front. Most remarkable is the IBO’s mission of maintaining one of the only research-based community education programs in the State of Idaho.

With a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire Treasure Valley as a backdrop, IBO crews trap, count and band thousands of birds – from tiny sparrows and kinglets to powerful, majestic hawks and eagles – from mid-July to early October each year. And, as Greg Kaltenecker, the IBO’s long-time director points out, this is truly world-class research as the IBO’s Lucky Peak field site supports one of the largest known raptor and songbird migration routes in the western U.S. – just a few miles from the heart of downtown Boise.

As they conduct their research, IBO staff members also cheerfully host and educate nearly 2,000 visitors annually – many of them wide-eyed children. Visiting children and families learn about the birds, their migrations and the importance of habitat by watching real science in action in a beautiful outdoor setting. Plans to acquire land for another IBO field site in the valley promise to make this educational opportunity available to visitors year-round.

Also, the IBO also relies heavily on donors and volunteers to help with its work – whether through philanthropic gifts, donations of food for staff and interns, or contributions of time and expertise to help with the research.

It’s rare to find such a harmonization of forces – nature, science, access, expertise and public interest – in a singular experience, but the Idaho Bird Observatory is one of those unique opportunities. It is truly a gem among the many ways Boise State enriches the intellectual, cultural and economic culture of this community.

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

Boise State Volunteers Are Everywhere

The value of Boise State’s volunteers is incalculable. And they are everywhere.

Whether community members and alumni involved on campus, or faculty, students and staff engaging with the community or their peers, a spirit of service and volunteerism is an essential part of the Boise State experience and character.

Opportunities to get involved are all around.

Each of our colleges relies upon a volunteer advisory board made up of alumni, community members and business leaders whose focus and expertise align with the college’s mission. Our deans depend on these stables of experts to provide counsel and help establish connections with the community, industry and potential donors who might be interested in supporting the college’s purpose.

The Boise State University Foundation, a non-profit entity that independently manages the university’sprivate funds and supports fundraising, also relies upon a volunteer board to guide its important work building financial resources for the university. I’m privileged to work closely with this group of important community leaders on advancing Boise State’s top priorities.

In addition, many of our departments also have their own boards that advocate and advise on their behalf. For example, the Friends of Nursing is an extraordinarily dedicated volunteer group of registered nurses, physicians, key hospital administrators, and others who support the university’s outstanding School of Nursing. Keep an eye out for more details about their annual gala on Nov. 7.

Literally thousands of our students volunteer in the community each year as part of their coursework or on their own, or on campus in support of their peers and important university events and programs. Whether through pro-bono tutoring, student clubs with a service objective or on their own, Boise State students give back to the community and their school at a prodigious level. The university’s Service-Learning program enhances student learning and citizenship by connecting classroom lessons with community needs and priorities. Many students also volunteer for a variety of events and causes on campus or in the community through the Student Involvement and Leadership Center – this group’s Service Saturday event is a campus favorite.

And, of course, the Boise State Alumni Association and its volunteer Board of Directors offers students, friends and alumni a variety of ways to be involved, whether on campus or thousands of miles away. Keep an eye out for opportunities around Homecoming next month and our alumni chapters and Bronco Contacts keep the blue and orange spirit alive all across the country.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, the Idaho Bird Observatory, the Bronco Athletic Association, Boise Public Radio, the Frank Church Institute the Women’s Center – the list of opportunities to get involved as a volunteer at Boise State are limitless, whether student, alumnus/a, faculty member, or interested community member. And the volunteers’ contributions to Boise State, its students and our community are too great to be measured.

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

University’s Strategic Self-Examination Essential To Student Success

A walk through the Quad on a typical day during the fall and spring semester is the best way to understand the broad diversity of our student body – and, perhaps, gain some perspective on the strategic planning required to ensure each of our students has a Boise State experience that is as rich and meaningful as possible.

On your walk, you’ll see traditional college students – 18-24 year olds whose first significant experience away from home was when they became undergraduates – as well as those who came to Boise State with more life experience. You see students whose parents and grandparents attended Boise State and those who are the first in their family to go to college. Some commute to school from their nearby family home while others come from the other side of the state, out of state or another country altogether, and live in our residence halls. There are graduate students, valedictorians, veterans, and student-athletes. Single moms, fraternity and sorority members, mid-career professionals and Ph.D. candidates.

Such diversity is one of Boise State’s greatest strengths. It is essential to our role as a comprehensive university focused on helping as many people as possible earn a college degree that is relevant to the needs of our students, region, state and nation.

Ensuring the efficient and effective use of the resources provided by our students and their families, our donors and partners, and the State of Idaho, requires constant vigilance and planning. As a result, Boise State is currently in the midst of a robust examination of its programmatic priorities and how it helps each and every student be as successful as possible. This deep look will help ensure we’re meeting their needs and help us shape our enrollment policies moving forward to ensure that our graduates are meeting the community’s needs as well. This strategic examination is deeply integrated with Boise State’s overall strategic plan, Focus on Effectiveness 2012-2017 and a statewide examination of higher education priorities initiated by Boise State’s board of directors, the Idaho State Board of Education.

The result will be more certainty that we are providing our broad array of students with the skills they need to be successful as employees in the modern workplace and as citizens of the world. We must help them not only master the knowledge base of their chosen profession, but also their ability to acquire new knowledge and skills throughout their life as critical thinkers, communicators and problem solvers.

Such self-examination is crucial to Boise State’s success in coming years – and we owe it to our students, donors and other partners to continually make certain that we are meeting the needs of our diverse student body and the communities we serve.

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

Alumni Leader Looks to Build Exciting Future

The energy building around the Boise State Alumni Association is very exciting. More than any other group, our alumni have the potential to be a truly transformative force for the future of this university. And Greg Chavez (BBA, Information Science, 1985) the new president of the alumni association, knows that the Bronco pride of this group – potentially 77,000-strong – might one day move mountains.

His vision of building the Boise State alumni community to tap into that potential starts long before a Bronco becomes an alumnus/a.

“The connection to Boise State is much more than just the years that our students are here earning a degree,” Greg recently told me. “We want them to feel and understand that we embrace them as a part of this this alumni community the moment they become Broncos – long before they leave the school as a graduate.”

Greg understands that enthusiastic alumni are cheerleaders, volunteers, and our university’s most important donors. He understands that their passion for Boise State makes them our most constructive critics and greatest ambassadors. He knows that their potential for impacting the fortunes of this university has no rival and that their engagement in its future is essential.

“I love this university,” Chavez said. “The growth and a national recognition that we have seen over the past several years are extraordinary. Everyone knows about our athletics, but the pace of academic and research growth is just as impressive. Keeping our alumni excited about the university – engaged and participating in its future – will drive that momentum forward.”

A key part of his vision is the plan to build the Boise State Alumni and Friends Center, a campus home for alumni and friends to gather and celebrate Boise State that reflects their importance to the university.

Greg is proud of Boise State and feels like the sky is the limit. I couldn’t agree more and look forward to partnering with him in advancing the Alumni Association’s and the University’s success.

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

Bronco Contacts Help Build Bronco Nation

I love when friends and alumni display their Boise State spirit, especially somewhere unexpected. A Broncos cap in an airport on the other side of the country, photos of a blue and orange bedecked work cubicle thousands of miles from campus, or accounts of the Boise State gnome and his travels – they all make me smile with my own Boise State pride.

Each and every display of Bronco spirit, no matter how small, means a lot to this university. By flying the Boise State flag around the world, our friends and alumni remind those who come in contact with them just how special this university is. Every time someone witnesses the passionate character of a Boise State fan, the growing reputation of our university benefits.

There’s a particularly fervent group of alumni – our Bronco Contacts – who are particularly effective Boise State ambassadors. For them, ordinary displays of blue and orange just aren’t enough, so each year these special Broncos work closely with our Office of Alumni Relations to host one or two events for other Boise State alumni and friends in their area. The events can be anything from Bronco football viewing parties, to new student barbeques, to representing Boise State at new student recruitment events, to putting together community service teams.

Less formal than traditional alumni chapters with officers, by-laws and event requirements, and responsive to today’s alumni and how they want to engage with the university, our Bronco Contact model allows alumni volunteers a flexible way to determine their personal level of involvement, find a fit for the local demand, and decide what type of activities they want to plan. All we ask is that each Bronco Contact is a dues-paying alumni association member and they coordinate at least one event in their area each year. Alumni chapters are still an important part of Bronco Nation, but Bronco Contacts allow more ways for more people to get involved.

Last year, our Bronco Contacts and official alumni chapters hosted almost 200 events for Boise State alumni and friends in 29 cities across the nation. These events are often the main connection between Broncos in a particular area and the university. As alumni ambassadors, each Bronco Contact is armed with the tools needed to stay abreast of what’s happening on campus, find and connect with other Broncos in their area, and contribute to Boise State’s progress – all while doing what they love and inviting other Broncos to join them in their hometown.

Through the leadership of our Bronco Contacts, communities of Boise State supporters are growing and thriving all over the country. And, as a result, one day those random displays of Boise State pride in far-flung places won’t be nearly as unexpected.

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

Extraordinary Gift Reflects Couple’s Life Passions

The reasons and ways people donate to Boise State University are as varied and unique as each individual donor.

We recently received a substantial bequest from the estate of an alumna who received her associate degree in the 1940s. It was a planned gift to scholarships for archeology students and women’s athletics on campus – the life interests of her and her husband, an alumnus who received his associate degree just one year before his wife.

With careers that offered a relatively modest income, they gave to Boise State what they could when they could throughout their lives. But through charitable gift planning she was able to express how much they, as a couple, valued the education they received here and their belief in the university’s mission.

This generous estate gift supports the viability of one of modern America’s most important and noble civil aspirations – equal opportunity for female athletes to get a college education. It also supports scholarships for students interested in archeology, ensuring that a student, who may not otherwise be able to afford a college degree, , can still earn one. Building support for scholarships at Boise State is a top priority for the university and, through this gift, more deserving students will have the resources they need to reach their fullest potential.

Great for our donors now and very fortunate for Boise State and its students later, planned giving offers a wide variety of flexible opportunities for donors of all ages. Smart tax advantages, the ability to make substantial future gifts with modest current cost, the opportunity to plan for heirs and leaving a legacy at Boise State that will last long after you are gone – these are all very real reasons our donors pursue gift planning with Boise State.

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

Pooling Gifts and Employer Matches Leverage Donor Impact

A group of five very smart Boise State alumni donors recently came together to great benefit for our students. Graduates of our highly-esteemed geosciences program, these alumni pooled their gifts to the university, leveraged their employer’s matching gift program and created a touching tribute to a college professor who greatly influenced each of them.

The result was the creation of the Claude Spinosa Presidential Endowed Scholarship – a new full-tuition scholarship for some deserving geosciences student that honors Dr. Spinosa’s long career as a faculty member teaching stratigraphy and paleontology at Boise State.

Led by John Foudy, a regular annual donor to Boise State, this group of donor alumni – all employees of Exxon Mobil in Houston – were able to do something extraordinary as a group that they couldn’t have done individually. By combining their individual gifts and applying for Exxon Mobil’s 3-to-1 match for employee giving to higher education, these Broncos cobbled together an endowment of about $210,000 for the scholarship. The earnings from the endowment will be more than enough to pay current in-state tuition and fees for one student in perpetuity.

It’s quite a legacy for Dr. Spinosa and these five alumni.

As you can see, collective philanthropy and employee giving match programs are very effective ways of leveraging the impact donors can have with their gifts.  To see if your employer offers a matching gift program click here.

So on behalf of the students of Boise State, I’d like to thank Mr. Foudy and his colleagues – Lucas Buchanan, Michael Farley, Vijay Gottumkkula and Dana Hutchison – for their generosity and loyalty to their alma mater. And congratulations to Dr. Spinosa, now an emeritus faculty member, for his long career at Boise State and this recognition of his influence on students through the years.

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

Yesterday’s Graduates Are Today’s Accomplished Alumni

The ritual of graduation is truly inspiring.

Over the weekend, more than 2,200 Broncos began their new life as alumni of Boise State University. Appropriately, it was a celebration of accomplishment – parents, spouses, children, friends and other loved ones proudly posing for photos with the beaming graduates wearing their mortar boards, tassels and robes.

For those of us in higher education, the semi-annual Commencement ceremony is always an uplifting reminder of what we do and why we do it. The creation and dissemination of knowledge – year after year, generation after generation – is a trust that ensures society’s improvement and progression. It is an investment in individuals who will guide their communities with what they have learned in our classrooms and what life will teach them after they leave.

These newest alumni join nearly 75,000 Boise State graduates making their way in the world. Their accomplishments in life are Boise State’s most important mark of success as a university – and the most influential factor in the value of a Boise State degree.

And as successful alumni, their involvement with their alma mater is one of Boise State’s most important resources for building the future. As the university’s most ardent fans, critics and ambassadors – and its most faithful and generous donors – they have the opportunity to shape Boise State in the years to come like no other force.

So, it was with heartfelt inspiration that we joined this weekend’s graduates in celebrating not only their accomplishments during their time at Boise State, but also what they will accomplish as alumni.

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

Donors, Scholarships Are Essential to Boise State Students

Our donors are more important to Boise State University than ever. Over the past several years, the State’s decreasing support for public universities has forced students to shoulder more and more of the financial burden of their education.

At Boise State, we are asking our donors to partner with us to ease the financial burden and encourage meritorious students by supporting student scholarships.

The generosity of our donors has been increasingly important in recent years. With their help, Boise State now has built new classrooms, laboratories and public spaces. Their generosity helps to grow the dynamic research programs, creating knowledge and spinning off exciting intellectual property and patents to advance the economic development of our region. Private gifts help the university develop dozens of new degrees – baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs – resulting in a more educated citizenry and helping Idaho reach its educational attainment goals.

Now, through their support of scholarships, they directly help our students with the costs of college. Many donors already give generously to scholarships and for this we are truly grateful. But the need is huge. Each year, despite millions of dollars in financial aid awarded by Boise State, most students who require financial assistance to attend school have thousands of dollars in unmet financial needs.

As a result, many are relying on loans to pay for school, taking on debt they cannot afford. Others must work through school, often forcing them to forgo important, fulfilling learning opportunities as they hectically concentrate on the bare minimum of academic achievement. Financial concerns cause others to only attend school part-time leaving them no choice but to achieve their goal over several years, instead of just a few. And unfortunately, too many will either leave school before they graduate or not attend at all because of the costs of going to college. Scholarships make college affordable and accessible.

There is no question about the impact scholarships have on the lives of our students. Instead, the question is how much we will be able to help them.

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

Sustainable Giving Provides Stable Foundation

Sustainability is a watchword in modern society. It evokes notions of balance – stewarding resources in a way that ensures their availability for generations, if not forever.

Ecological sustainability is behind degree programs and research initiatives at Boise State investigating topics like energy (, how water moves through our environment, business practices, urban planning and raptor biology, a fascinating example of which can be found in our Photo of the Week link above.

For a university advancing as quickly as Boise State, sustainability also means ensuring a solid foundation of resources underpins whatever you build – whether academic programs, student initiatives, faculty support, or bricks and mortar. And philanthropy is essential to that sustained, long-term support.

Just yesterday evening, generous donors who regularly give $1,000 or more each year to Boise State gathered on campus at the special invitation of President and Mrs. Bob Kustra. This giving society, the President’s Club, provides essential philanthropic support to Boise State year after year after year. The members’ consistent generosity – including support of student scholarships, our top philanthropic priority – provides the sustainable foundation of giving upon which Boise State builds its future as a rising metropolitan research university of distinction.

At last night’s gathering members spent time mingling with each other, President and Mrs. Kustra and other university leaders, as well as our impressive Top Ten Scholars. They also received an inside perspective on our plans for deepening student scholarship support at Boise State.

Without these generous donors, Boise State’s ability to sustain its remarkable growth and advancement would be left out of balance and on shaky ground. We thank and appreciate all of our donors and, particularly the sustainability of our President’s Club members.

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

Alumni Association Members Build Boise State’s Future

Alumni can energize a university like nothing else.

They are their alma mater’s most passionate fans, most constructive critics and greatest ambassadors. They are their university’s most faithful and generous donors. And their contagious excitement kindles an esprit de corps that unites the university’s entire community of friends, neighbors and partners – what we at Boise State University affectionately call the Bronco Nation.

Later this month, we celebrate Boise State’s most dedicated and involved core of alumni – the more than 3,500 members of the Boise State Alumni Association. Their membership and engagement is critical to the success of this university and we want to thank them for everything they do for Boise State.

In many ways, these Broncos are the keeper of the Boise State flame. They guard its traditions, spread the word about its accomplishments, and through their own success they define Boise State’s success as a university. Their membership provides essential support for the alumni association’s broad array of activities – each designed to enhance and build a network of alumni worthy of Boise State.

Through their Legacy Scholars program, alumni association members expect to provide more than $100,000 in student scholarships next year. Each year, association members support more than 130 events around the nation, including Bronco Bash tailgate parties at away football games, homecoming events, class and academic program reunions, commencement activities and a wide range of other celebrations.

The Bronco Action Network provides association members an opportunity to influence public policy decisions important to Boise State and its future. And the Future Alumni Network works to build loyalty and pride among current Boise State students.

But membership in the Boise State Alumni Association isn’t a one-way street. Members also enjoy special privileges, including invitations to exclusive university events, discounted membership to the Boise State Recreation Center, Albertsons Library and the Bronco Zone in Bronco Stadium, and a wide range of promotional discounts from more than 40 local and national companies and retailers. Membership in the Boise State Alumni Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is also tax deductible.

Perhaps more than any other arrow in Boise State’s quiver, our alumni – and particularly our alumni association members — represent this university’s greatest potential for building Boise State’s future. Association members are actively increasing the value of their degrees by supporting the growing distinction of our university. And from this, all alumni benefit. As we prepare to celebrate the role our alumni association members play later this month, we hope that you get more involved and be there to join us for next year’s recognition. We need you.

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

Boise State Students Get a Leg Up

Boise State students in need of help to pay for school received a recent leg up from two of the university’s most important and unique scholarship partnerships. These timely contributions from the Beat Coach Pete Scholarship Run/Walk and the foundation behind our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute support Boise State’s greatest philanthropic need and top funding priority –scholarships.

On Saturday, 2,298 Boise State friends, fans and alumni tried to “Beat Coach Pete” and raised about $35,000 for the Boise State General Scholarship Fund . This generous annual event – a 5K footrace headlined by Broncos football coach Chris Petersen – has provided more than $173,000 for student scholarships over six years. This year, as always, Coach Pete generously contributed for every runner who finished before him – $5 each for more than 1,000 participants who did indeed “Beat Pete.”

And just last week, the Bernard Osher Foundation awarded $1 million to Boise State to create an endowment for scholarships for students re-entering college. Because the funds are invested with the Boise State University Foundation and annual scholarships are awarded from investment earnings, the scholarships will be available in perpetuityIt’s a wonderful expansion of a previous agreement with the Osher Foundation that provided annual funding for scholarships through a $50,000 grant.,

We know that concern about money is the top reason students leave Boise State before earning their degree. Others rely on student loans, amassing on average more than $27,000 in debt by the time they graduate. And still more never even consider applying to Boise State because of the ever-increasing costs of a college education.

Through contributions like those mentioned above, our donors help students explore their individual college experiences and future life paths unhindered by financial uncertainty. Scholarships assure our most talented, most deserving students understand that they are a coveted part of the Bronco family, creating a life-long bond with their alma mater that often develops into a philanthropic relationship later in life. By supporting student scholarships our donors help ensure that great potential is not left unrealized

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