Boise State University President Bob Kustra is the 2017 recipient of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Fame Award. He is the fifth Boisean to receive the distinction.
“No one has done more to shatter old images of Boise than Bob Kustra,” said Bill Connors, Chamber president and CEO. “That Boise State University has risen to international prominence in academics, athletics, research and innovation from its past role as a small junior college is just one of Bob’s remarkable makeover projects. For the Chamber, Bob’s commitment to integrating the business community and our urban landscape into the University’s DNA is equally impressive. Dr. Kustra’s dream of making Boise State a major metropolitan research university of distinction has come to fruition and has transformed a sleepy, western capitol city into a rising urban star of the American West.”
When Kustra arrived at Boise State in 2003, he challenged university faculty, staff and supporters to aspire to be a metropolitan research university of distinction. In 2016, Boise State was designated a doctoral research university in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education — and named one of 20 “rising stars” in the world best poised to challenge the higher education elite on a global scale.
The Chamber will honor Kustra at the 2017 Small Business of the Year & Chamber Excellence Awards Luncheon from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, at the Boise Centre. Chamber leaders said Kustra was selected for the award for “his sustained, positive contributions to the betterment of the chamber and support for its mission to advocate for a vibrant economy and outstanding quality of life.”
Past recipients of the award have been business leaders Dennis Johnson in 2016, Skip Oppenheimer in 2015, Nancy Vannorsdel in 2014, and Doug Armstrong in 2013.
During Kustra’s tenure, the university has grown to nearly 24,000 students with 4,000 graduates each year. Boise State now confers more than 46 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded by Idaho public colleges and universities. The university has more than doubled its graduate offerings and has become the fastest-growing research enterprise in Idaho — all while retaining an emphasis on maintaining and continually improving the undergraduate experience.
Before coming to Idaho, Kustra had a long and distinguished career in public service in Illinois, serving two terms as lieutenant governor and 10 years in the Illinois legislature. He chaired the Illinois Board of Higher Education, responsible for funding and oversight of the state’s nine public universities. He served as president of the Midwestern Higher Education Commission and of Eastern Kentucky University. He has held faculty positions at Northwestern University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago and the University of Illinois- Springfield. Kustra holds degrees from Benedictine College and Southern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
About the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce
Established in 1883, the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce strives to be the leading business advocacy organization in the Boise Valley. The Boise Metro Chamber is a private, nonprofit, membership-driven organization comprised of more than 1,800 business enterprises, civic organizations, education institutions and individuals. Its mission is to provide leadership that will help create regional economic prosperity and success for its members.