Skip to Main Content
Mobile Menu

From the Vice President

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.

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.