Boise State University’s winter Commencement will honor graduates with a traditional ceremony and pay tribute to distinguished alumnus and Boise business leader Bill Ilett.
The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, in Taco Bell Arena. Arena doors open at 8:30 a.m. and attendees are encouraged to arrive early. Open seating will be on a first-come, first-seated basis.
About 1,000 students are expected to participate in the university’s 101st Commencement ceremony. In total, 1,872 students are eligible to receive 2,093 degrees and certificates. Of those, 377 are eligible for honors: 233 cum laude, 120 magna cum laude and 24 summa cum laude.
Boise State has Idaho’s largest graduate school and awards more degrees each year than any other Idaho university. Nine doctoral students will be hooded during this ceremony.
Bill Ilett will receive the Silver Medallion, Boise State’s highest recognition of service to the university. The Boise State Alumni Association celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, thanks in part to some early work by Ilett. Ilett graduated from Boise High School in 1962 and began attending Boise Junior College after serving in the Air Force Reserve. He graduated from Boise College in 1967 as a member of the first graduating class from the four-year school. He also served as its first student body president and, along with 11 other founding members, was the driving force behind the creation of the alumni association, a requirement for Boise State College to become an accredited four-year institution.
Since earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting, Ilett has gone on to positively impact his alma mater in many ways. He is a lifetime member of the Boise State Alumni Association, as well as an inductee of both the Chaffee Guild and the Barnwell Society, organizations that recognize charitable giving to the university. He was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. He also has served as chairman of the Boise State University Foundation Board, and the College of Business and Economics advisory council, is past president of the Boise State Alumni Association Board, and served on the Bronco Athletic Association board and the steering committee for the university’s Destination Distinction campaign.
Born and raised in Boise, Ilett also has had a tremendous impact on his community. After graduating with a degree in accounting, he worked for a national CPA firm and passed the CPA exam. Ilett worked for a truck dealership when he was in college, and returned to the truck dealership business in 1969 as an accountant. In 1972, he opened a business in retail truck sales and, in 1982, added a truck leasing company. This grew into the largest full-service truck leasing business in the Intermountain West. He sold the business to a Fortune 500 company in 1995, and has continued to operate a smaller finance lease truck business.
In 1996, Ilett led a group of investors to form the Idaho Stampede professional basketball team. They sold the team to a national sports figure in 1999, purchased it back in 2002, and as the managing investor, Ilett ran the team until 2015, when it was sold to the Utah Jazz. During that time, the team joined the NBA Development League.
Ilett currently is a founder and board member of a regional bank, involved with a number of real estate projects, and is a partner in a small venture capital firm. He and his wife Christina continue to call Boise home.
The winter Commencement student speaker is Kelly Larkin, who is graduating with a degree in radiologic sciences. Larkin moved from Minnesota to attend Boise State about four years ago and quickly carved out a busy life for herself within the Boise State community, balancing an on-campus job and two radiologic technologist positions – which involves performing X-rays and health screenings – all while maintaining a 4.0 departmental GPA. Larkin also was elected vice president of Boise State’s Student Association of Radiologic Technologists – an on-campus radiology club that helps radiology students get involved in the community. In addition, in her free time Larkin volunteered at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center as a call light volunteer, a position that had her responding to and interacting with the hospital’s most vulnerable patients – those in critical condition or who need constant monitoring and care.
The Pesky Awards for Inspirational Teaching will be presented to four outstanding teachers: Shelby Beck, Craig High School, Prince of Wales, Alaska; Melissa Bollinger, Victory Middle School, Meridian; Jodie Mink, Cambridge Jr./High School, Cambridge; and Jodi Wright, Adams Elementary School, Boise. Alan and Wendy Pesky, founders of the Lee Pesky Learning Center, created the Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching with Boise State University’s College of Education through a mutual vision to honor and recognize inspiring teachers. This is the only known award of its kind in the country.
The Commencement ceremony will include a processional and recessional, individual recognition of graduates and the hooding of doctoral candidates. Screens will be set up so family and friends can see the graduates up close as they are individually recognized.
For more information, visit academics.boisestate.edu/commencement.