Boise State President Bob Kustra outlined the university’s efforts to manage – within financial limitations – its growing student population as well as the needs of the community and industry in Idaho’s capitol city during his presentation to lawmakers on the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) on Jan. 23.
Boise State served a total of 29,454 distinct students in fiscal year 2011, including the fall, spring and summer sessions, said Kustra, describing the number as a more accurate indicator of its increasingly metropolitan outreach. Customary enrollment numbers for all Idaho universities are derived from a count on the 10th day of the fall semester and do not reflect or include student enrollment at other times of the year.
Since 2006, 71 percent of the new students entering the state’s public university system have enrolled at Boise State. The university currently serves 43 percent of Idaho’s full-time resident university students.
Kustra explained that managing the growth and services for students has been an ongoing challenge for faculty and administrators. Boise State has eliminated or restructured programs, increased dual enrollment and distance education credits, hired part-time faculty members to meet peak demands, developed an Intersession between semesters, added more online offerings and combined small sections into fewer, larger classes.
“Mindful of serving our students and our community, Boise State is reinventing its academic and business practices, developing key competencies among our faculty and programs, and allocating resources that promote innovation, effectiveness and responsible risk-taking,” Kustra said.
The Boise State President advocated for Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal to fund the enrollment workload adjustment to support its growing enrollment. “We believe that Idaho students deserve a funding formula which follows each student to the public university of their choice —thereby defraying some of the cost of their education — and, most importantly, which is funded every year by the State.”
Kustra also strongly supported Gov. Otter’s higher education budget recommendations, including funding for the IGEM initiative. “IGEM is an outstanding common-sense initiative which melds the realities of the marketplace with the talents and resources of our universities, all to the great benefit of Idaho’s economy.”
“IGEM will enhance the competitiveness of Boise State and our industry partners on a national and international scale through the sharing of expertise and ideas, and in turn, strengthen Idaho’s economy with the creation of globally competitive technologies,” Kustra said. “We are excited about the possibilities to create and commercialize intellectual property resulting in jobs for Idahoans.”
In meeting the demands of an increasingly sophisticated economy, Kustra noted appreciation for SBOE approval of three new doctoral degrees to begin next fall in biomolecular sciences, materials science engineering, and a fully online doctorate in educational technology. For undergraduates, a new set of courses, known as the Foundational Studies Program, will replace the traditional core offerings with an emphasis on shared learning experiences which are relevant to the workplace and life and which are measurable as learning outcomes.
In his remarks, Kustra also described the university’s continuing efforts to align its teaching and research with community, state and national needs. He cited several examples, including breakthrough research on a method of detecting up to 250 diseases through a simple medical test, research that is funded by the prestigious Keck Foundation. He also applauded the accomplishments of Boise State students, highlighting the Greenspeed engineering team and the championship speech and debate team.
Finally, Kustra referred to a series of online podcasts, available on Boise State’s home page as Beyond the Blue, which highlights for the casual listener the research of Boise State faculty.